Science

You could brush your teeth with milkshakes!

So, there are things living in your stomach. Tiny little things, not entirely unlike the thing that exploded out of that guy’s stomach in Alien. If you’ve ever eated a cup of yogurt, you’ve put more living things in. It’s like your stomach is a little garden you tend. A garden of bacteria.

According to Nature, one of those little bastards may be trying to make you fat. Methanobrevibacter smithii is a waste-removal microbe. It picks up the byproducts of other microbes and transforms it into all-natural methane, ie., farts. According to the article, only 85% of the population has M. Smithii in their guts, though there’s no word on how the other 15% toot. Hee, “toot.” Ahem, anyway.

This research suggests that my body might process a slice of cake in a way that produces more calories than the way your body might process it, which explains why you can keep eating all that cake and still stay so thin, you god damned skinny bitch. Er, sorry . . .

I can’t wait to see what the diet industry will do with this news. I envision special dietary bug bombs designed to kill off all traces of smithii, damned the intestinal consequences. I wonder about the 15% of the population without the microbe in their systems, and how well they get along without it. Would it be possible to reduce or eliminate the microbe in the other 85%, and do it in a healthy manner? I tried to answer my own question by Googling around, but most of the links had to do with human feces, and that’s really just too much for me to take in right before lunch. How about you biologists — anybody heard of this?

Sorry for reusing an earlier blog photo, but me eating cake is just too appropriate, particularly since the Nature article also includes a photo of someone eating cake who probably shouldn’t.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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11 Comments

  1. Well, I'll be damned if *I* fall for quackery gut-bug bombs– I love to fart, and as dear old Ben Franklin once advised, I fart proudly!

    Seriously, though– Will the quacks really pick up on this? Knowing what getting rid of our symbiotic gut-bacteria woud do to us?

  2. I suppose this means that one can't really have one's cake and eat it too. Or eat one's cake and have it too, or toot. Something like that.

    Sorry, that was so stupid, but it was funny for a moment.

    Not every thought can be profound.

  3. If M. Smithii turns byproducts of other bacteria into methane, how does it make people fat? Methane is just gas, which passes through the digestive system untouched I guess. Unless it's actually turning something into fat or cholesterol, it's not going to have any effect on your belt size, only on what happens below the belt.

  4. The methane is not what makes you fat :-P The methane is a byproduct of the chemical process the smithii use to break down complex carbohydrates, thereby increasing your caloric absorption.

    Yah.

  5. But breaking down complex carbohydrates is exactly what the human body already does to create energy. If something is not broken down, it either passes through unused, or it gets stored somewhere, like fat deposits for example. If complex carbohydrates are now being broken down into bits that can be used, how is it making people fat?

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