New research indicates that gut microbes help mediate the benefits of short-term exposure to cold, which is known to mimic some of the effects of exercise (Chevalier C et al. Cell. 2015;163:1360-1374.)
A team led by researchers at the University of Geneva in Switzerland found that cold exposure (6°C or 43°F) for up to 10 days dramatically altered the composition of intestinal bacteria in mice. Transplanting such “cold microbiota” to germ-free mice was sufficient to increase insulin sensitivity, energy expenditure, and fat (or adipose) loss. The effects occurred in part because of a switch from energy-storing white adipose tissue to energy-burning brown adipose tissue.
Hampton T. Gut Microbes Stimulate Fat Loss in Response to Cold. JAMA. 2016;315(5):455. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.19338