In the 1950s began the widespread use of low-dose antibiotics as growth promoters in the agricultural industry. The discovery was much by accident, but ended up quite profitable: Farmers gave cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, and turkeys low doses of antibiotics and watched them grow (along with profits).

Livestock are still given this sub-therapeutic antibiotic therapy (STAT) today, although there is concern that it contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. In a new study published in the journal Nature, researchers studied STAT use with the hypothesis that the resulting weight gain was due to alterations in the composition and function of gut bacteria.

Imagine that! It looks like the scientists are getting on board with those of us in the natural health industry, who have been saying all along that gut function is the foundation of total-body health. Let’s take a look at what they found, shall we?

In the animal model, mice receiving low doses of antibiotics experienced increased fat mass and percent body fat and gained about 10 to 15 percent more fat mass when compared to those mice not given antibiotics. The researchers also found increased bone density and a change in hormones involved in metabolism, all related to changes in the gut.

“By using antibiotics, we found we can actually manipulate the population of bacteria and alter how they metabolize certain nutrients,” noted one of the authors. “This work shows the importance of the early life microbiome in conditions like obesity,” stated another author. “The rise of obesity around the world is coincident with widespread antibiotic use, and our studies provide an experimental linkage. It is possible that early exposure to antibiotics primes children for obesity later in life.”

Studies like these are exciting—yet again we have a great example of the gut connection to total-body health. Who would have thought that what happens in your gut can result in obesity? If you have been following me for a while, I hope you understand the importance of building your gut health. And if you’re new to my site, dig in. I’ve been talking about the gut connection to health for a long time.