The human gut is home to a vast number of bacteria, the microbiota, whose genomes complement our own set of genes. The gut microbiota functions at the intersection between host genotype and diet to modulate host physiology and metabolism, and recent data have revealed that the gut microbiota can affect obesity. The gut microbiota contributes to host metabolism by several mechanisms including increased energy harvest from the diet, modulation of lipid metabolism, altered endocrine function, and increased inflammatory tone. The gut microbiota could thus be considered to be an environmental factor that modulates obesity and other metabolic diseases.
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