Our intestinal bacteria perform numerous tasks, including food digestion. The intestinal bacteria can be divided into two major groups, known as Bacteroides and Firmicutes. In a healthy intestinal flora, these two groups are present in an optimal ratio of 1:1 to each other, which means that there are approximately the same number of bacteria from both groups in the intestine.
In overweight people, however, it often happens that the intestinal flora is out of balance and the bacterial group of the Firmicutes strongly predominates. The ratio can be shifted up to 2.000 : 1. The intestine then contains 2.000 times more Firmicutes than Bacteroidetes!
Firmicutes have the special property of being able to break down food constituents that humans are actually unable to digest (namely the so-called dietary fibres and complex carbohydrates). This creates many easily digestible carbohydrates in the intestine – many more than in an intestine with an optimal bacteria ratio – which are absorbed in addition to the calories eaten. This “hidden” intake can easily add up to 200 calories more – every day!
In addition, the shift in bacterial ratios – towards the Firmicutes – can take on a life of its own: The more carbohydrates (e.g. sugar, pasta, etc.) are eaten, the more comfortable the Firmicutes feel and the better they can multiply in the intestine – a vicious circle has begun!