The Gut Microbiome, Obesity, and Weight Control in Women’s Reproductive Health
The microbes residing in the human gut, referred to as the microbiome, are intricately linked to energy homeostasis and subsequently obesity. Integral to the origins of obesity, the microbiome is believed to affect not only health of the human gut but also overall health. This microbiome–obesity association is mediated through the process of energy extraction, metabolism, and cross talk between the brain and the gut microbiome. Host exposures, including diet, that potentially modify genetic predisposition to obesity and affect weight management are reviewed. The higher prevalence of obesity among women and recent evidence linking obesity during pregnancy with offspring health make this topic particularly relevant. Current limitations in microbiome research to address obesity and future advances in this field are described. Applications of this science with respect to applied nursing and overall health care in general are included, with emphasis on the reproductive health of women and their offspring.