Can Bad Bacteria and Parasites Make You Fat? Infectobesity Examined

You may have seen the shocking adverts online about bacterial infection being the reason you are overweight or obese. The adverts seem very far-fetched, and designed to scare desperate people into buying a new product or service to help them lose weight.

One advert even goes as far to claim that “99.8% of most doctors would rather you get sick and stay sick, as that’s how they earn their living!” (this is the claim of Dr Suzanne Gudakunst, who sells her ‘secret’ about parasites making us fat. Really she is just selling a detox cleanse package that you can make yourself – although it is mostly a waste of time!).

Is there any truth in it? And if there is, what can be done about it? Well, as it happens the scientific community has been researching the link between obesity and bacteria (parasites) in our digestive tract. The results do show that there could well be a connection and a dietary solution, more importantly, their information is provided for free!

We are Riddled with Bacteria

We are riddled with bacteria. From the moment we are born, bacteria start to grow and spread within us and compete for the prime real estate that is the human body. Some of these bacteria are good for us, we evolved with them, and maintaining this relationship is essential for our survival.

Some bacteria in the stomach help us to digest our food. However, there are bad bacteria too, and some people claim that this can interrupt our digestive system, cause digestive problems such as IBS, Chrone’s disease, and weight problems. The good and bad bacteria are in a constant battle with each other to control our bodies.

If bad bacteria take over, this is when we suffer from health problems, including obesity. So, is there any real scientific evidence for this? What research is being done? What are the results? And how can we use this information to help people with weight problems?


There is now a scientific term for this theory, it is called infectobesity. This is the emerging field of medical research that studies the relationship between pathogens (disease-causing organisms, such as viruses and bacteria) and weight gain. The term was coined in 2001 by Dr. Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

This is the current state of research on infectobesity:

“Seven viruses have been reported to cause obesity in animal models by various research groups. We reported the first human virus, an adenovirus (Ad-36), which causes adiposity in chickens, rodents and non-human primates and shows association with human obesity. Our in-vivo and in-vitro data show that Ad-36 increases adiposity, lowers serum lipids, increases insulin sensitivity and preadipocyte differentiation.

We are currently investigating the molecular mechanism involved in adiposity promoting effect of Ad-36. Several genes of adipocyte differentiation pathway are up-regulated by Ad-36 and E4 orf1 is a viral gene contributing to the effect. We are determining the interaction of the viral and cellular genes involved in the process.

Our long-term goal is to discover treatment and / or prevention of Ad-36-induced adiposity. Furthermore, determining the role of other infectious agents in etiology of obesity is an important area of investigation.” Dr. Nikhil V. Dhurandhar.

Of course, this research is currently restricted to one institute and requires more work. But there does appear to be a real relationship between specific pathogens and increase in growth of fatty tissue (adiposity). Other studies have indicated that microbes such as archea, fungi and protozoa can cause obesity too.

Other research has also indicated that gut bacteria of obese and slim subjects are very different and that the bacteria inhabiting obese people are more efficient at extracting energy from food and depositing it as fat:

“Studies demonstrated that certain mixes of gut microbiota may protect or predispose the host to obesity. Furthermore, microbiota transplantation studies in germ-free murine models showed that the efficient energy extraction traits of obese-type gut flora are transmissible. The proposed methods by which the microbiome may contribute to obesity include increasing dietary energy harvest, promoting fat deposition, and triggering systemic inflammation. Future treatments for obesity may involve modulation of gut microbiota using probiotics or prebiotics.” Tsai & Coyle, 2009.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

So, this is the closest we have so far to a solution, i.e. probiotics or prebiotics. Probiotics are dietary supplements of live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. Common products that contain these types of supplements are Yakult and Danone yogurts and drinks. There has been a growth in products in recent years aimed at increasing the “healthy bacteria” in out gut.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity of bacteria in the digestive system which are beneficial to the health of the body. Dietary sources of prebiotics include soybeans, raw oats, unrefined wheat and barley.

Foods To Avoid for a Healthy Gut

  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Alcohol
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grains and flour products
  • Animal proteins
  • Acidic fruits
  • Caffeine
  • Fast food

Foods To Eat More of for a Healthy Gut

  • Raw salads
  • Healthy oils
  • Probiotic  yogurts and drinks
  • Soybeans and other Pulses
  • Raw Oats
  • Water

We should add that currently the general consensus is that it is still too early to know whether or not these bacteria are the cause or effect of obesity. However, in subjects that have started to consume more of the above foods, i.e. probiotic yogurts and unrefined grains and raw oats do see an improvement in their digestive tract.

But, this alone will not make you thin again. If you eat too much food, you will remain fat. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet, is still essential to being a healthy weight. Read our page on losing stomach fat to learn how this works. Boosting the friendly bacteria may help you meet this goal.

Other References and Sources:

7 Comments on “Can Bad Bacteria and Parasites Make You Fat? Infectobesity Examined”

  1. Unfortunately your list of foods to “avoid” for a healthy gut is highly innaccurate. Some Nuts and Seeds (depending on the variety) are key to removing the parasites triggering these “infections.” Dr. Theobald Smith’s work proved this in 1880–and the USA has built an entire medical world around it….and hiding the fact that parasites are the source of all infection, disease and disorder–even mental illness and obesity.

    Nuts like almonds contain Naturally Occurring Cyanide that has helped humans and primates stay cancer and parasite free since the dawn of time. Seeds and nuts are the best source of protein to eat to avoid highly parasitic and acidic (GMO) meats that damage your gut. Another great anti-parasitic is Cayenne Peppers–very hot spicey foods kill parasites. That’s why the dish Korean dish Kimchi cured SARS. It contains tons of anti-parasitics like: cabbage, vinegar, garlic, ginger, onions, chili peppers.

    Also, “high acid fruits” are an excellent source of natural sugar as long as they’re not from GMO/Round-up farms–they’re healthy and the only solid source of Vitamin C. Telling people not to eat them for a “healthy” digestive track is bad advice. Grapefruit, the most “acidic” turns to water in your stomach. Fruits containing citric acids kill parasites–which is why they are so good for you. If someone’s having difficulty digesting these fruits, recommend vegetarian HCL Betaine tablets.(another anti-parasitic) They’re a homeopathic Reflux cure.

    Please Google the “Manual for the International List of Causes of Death” 1906/1936 Edition and go to page 391. Here you will find each parasite known at that time, and the diseases they cause. Parasites have spread plagues that have dessimated millions like: Meningitis, Venereal Disease, Staph, Strep, Pneuomonia, Typhoid Fever, Rubella, MUmps, Measles, Pertussis, Tuberculosis–MORE.

    Encouraging any dairy consumption is bad. Calcium binds toxins, and because Monsanto over-uses soil, all Magnesium is depleted and plants never get infused with this precious mineral. Without proper Magnesium ingestion, calcium binding toxins can’t be flushed out of your body. Bound Calcium(and yeast) then lodges in your muscles, bones and brain. In the muscles it’s called Fibromyalgia, in the bones it’s called Artyhritis, and in the brain it causes Senility. Eating anything from a cow does far more harm than good. There are many other ways to establish nutritional goals for protein, vitamin D and calcium, other than via vacca.

  2. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi EFHerne, thank you for your lengthy reply. Can you provide evidence for any of these claims? By that we mean recent research papers in peer reviewed journals – not a book from the early 20th century.

  3. Motley Health–why haven’t you posted the links? Many have read this post, researched my name and links on my website (FDA, NIH, Medscape, etc) but you refuse to post them here. POST THEM….to save humanity needless suffering. Have a heart, study the evidence–but you have to be WILLING to allow your pattern recognition to kick on! Here is link to my timeline of events proving how/why our diets/health are so poor.

    And the Manual listing above is just the smoking gun–the bullets are at my website. Here are the links anyway. Maybe this time you’ll actually post them.

    (1600 words and around 80 links removed)

  4. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi EFHerne, thank you for your essay and extensive list of links. Until today we never refused to post any links. This article was researched and written by us for the benefit or our readers. I understand that this is a topic that you have also written about and are passionate about. R

    Unfortunately we cannot publish the 1600 words and 80+ links you just presented us with here though, sorry.

    As we said in our previous comment, which you did not answer – we would need more substantive proof before publishing many of the claims. For example, we do not believe that Dr. Max Gerson has created a “Cancer Curing Miracle” or a “Cancer-curing Diet“. Cancer is a serious and aggressive disease and it is dangerous to suggest that it can be treated with holistic therapies. If you have scientific proof, the whole world would love to hear. I suggest that you publish it on your own website, I am sure it will be very popular.

  5. Hi MotleyHealth, I admire your replies, I also would be fascinated to read any reputably published, peer reviewed double blind cures as I suffer long term metabolic issues but dont wish to go down the bogus cure road, sadly a few of my fellow suffers have died as a result of alternative cures, such as a herbal remedy to fix a failing thyroid – she died, thyroxin would have worked a treat if taken.

  6. Marrianne says:

    MotleyHealth, I have to say, your criteria for deciding what is a reputable source must include that it does does go against your presuppositions. When presented with the requested information, you dismiss it. That is not good research at all. It seems to me you just want people to take your word on things and not consider that you may be wrong. Don’t let your pride make you look silly and unreliable. Some of what you said is, indeed, misleading. Did you research yourself? Or just take the word of a source you deem to be reliable? The way you have handled opposing views of this topic has shown me that you are not a reliable source of information.

  7. MotleyHealth says:

    We used several sources – we do not have the resources to look at all of them. Do you have an opinion on the topic, or only how we write our blog?

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