Vegetables displayed in Souk al-Tayeb, Lebanon. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Manipulating what kinds of bacteria live in the gut might lead to a new way to treat millions of children suffering chronic malnutrition, says new research that suggests the right microbes can help get the most out of a poor diet.Tweaking those gut microbes improved growth – even though the animals didn't eat more, or more nutritiously.Gut bacteria do more than simply break down food for digestion.This time, working with more than 250 healthy or undernourished children, Gordon's team defined how a healthy gut microbiome normally develops – and found that the chronically malnourished tots harbored an immature one, too young for their age.Despite eating the same calories, mice with the healthy gut bacteria gained more lean body mass, and showed healthier bone development and better metabolism in the liver, brain and muscles, the team reported in Science.It's not extra calories, Gordon stressed. Different strains of bacteria were interacting at different stages of the sugars' digestion, pointing to what he calls a complex food web in the gut.
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