Food transit through the small intestine affects our health and consequently, the body's absorption of nutrients.
The discovery that food transit time is regulated by a hormone, which indicates new ways to increase the intestinal absorption of nutrients and thus potentially treat malnutrition.
One of the tasks of the gut microbiota is to break down essential nutrients from our diet to provide a usable energy source in the colon.
Importantly, they also showed that the released GLP-1 regulates how quickly food passes through the small intestine. These findings may open up new possibilities to treat malnutrition and malnutrition-related diseases.
"Food transit through the small intestine is a complex balancing act, in which the gut lining must be given time to absorb nutrients but without allowing pathogenic bacteria sufficient time to colonize the small intestine. We have discovered that food transit through the small intestine is regulated by a specific hormone called GLP-1, which is linked to our glucose metabolism and appetite," says Anita Wichmann, postdoctoral researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy and the study's lead author.
The study, published in the prestigious journal Cell Host & Microbe, was led by Professor Fredrik Bäckhed, who heads an internationally recognized research group that investigates the links between the gut microbiota and regulation of the body's metabolism.
"We are continuously discovering new functions that are regulated by the gut microbiota, which highlight its incredibly important function for health and development of diseases," he says.
The article Microbial Modulation of Energy Availability in the Colon Regulates Intestinal Transit was published in Cell Host & Microbe on the 13 November.