The Lake House Mysteries - by - IC Enger
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Lake House Mystery Blog

Guest Blogger JL Greger

I have a guest blogger on the site today, J.L.Greger. Janet writes novels that feature real science along with a fast paced mystery story. Her newest book, Murder: a New Way to Lose Weight, is now available on 
Here is a little information about Janet.
“J. L. Greger, an author, biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her novels. Her first novel Coming Flu is a prequel to Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight and shares many characters.”
And now, here's Janet .....
The Microbes Made Me Eat
Bet you think that I thought up the title to enliven my blog. Wrong. It’s the title Sandoval and Seeley gave their scientific review of research on the relationship of gut bacteria to weight control in Science(Science 328:179-80, 2010). This and similar articles in scientific journals got me thinking. 
Why not feature research on the effect of gut bacteria on weight control in my next mystery/suspense novel? Almost all Americans are interested in easier way to lose weight. Gut bacteria are so gross; they’re interesting in a weird way. Medical schools are great locations for mystery/suspense novels. Lots of professional there know ways to kill someone without using something obvious like a gun or a knife. The result is Oak Tree Press published Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight this week.
I think you’ll learn a bit of science and feel like an “insider” in a medical school when you read Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Here’s how it starts. 
Linda Almquist, who seldom even smiled, laughed.
Richard Varegos had done it again. He had arranged books and a computer on the front counter of the hospital pavilion for a photo shoot. In the resulting glossy, full-color flyer, he sat with at his make-believe teak desk in his supposedly marble-walled office. She read the flyer’s title: THE DIET DOCTOR HAS ANSWERSFOR YOUR WEIGHT PROBLEMS.
Was there no end to his ego?
Dr. Richard Varegos and his partner Dr. Izzy Roth – the diet doctors - have made a breakthrough. They found when they infused bacteria from the guts of lean rats into the guts of obese rats, the obese rats lost weight. Does that sound strange? Actual researchers have performed parallel experiments in mice and gotten similar results (Science 332:32-33, 2011). 
Now Richard and Izzy are conducting studies with obese humans. They’re trying to change the gut flora in obese subjects to see if they’ll lose weight faster and keep the weight off longer. Again the studies are similar to ones conducted by real scientists (Science 336:1248-50, 2012). 
But complications occur. The protagonist Linda Almquist, as an interim associate dean of the medical school, is forced to investigate allegations that Richard and Izzy are recklessly endangering the health of their obese research subjects. Linda, who just happens to be trying to lose weight herself, finds Izzy dead. She suspects Izzy’s death and the scientific misconduct allegations are intertwined. Rumors swirl about the medical school, the ultimate insiders’ club. Soon Linda fears for her job and the police fear for her life. 
Facts are stranger than fiction
Just in case you’re a skeptic and think this research sounds hokey. Let’s dispel several myths about gut bacteria. 
Myth: Only sick people have many gut bacteria. The gastrointestinal tract of the average adult human contains about 100 trillion microorganisms (mostly bacteria). Probably about ten times the number of cells in your body itself. These bacteria are estimated to include 15,000 to 36,000 different species of bacteria (Science,312:1355-9, 2006). 
Myth: All gut bacteria are bad. Publicity on gut bacteria usually is focused on the bad ones, like Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli), which can make you sick.
But most of the bacteria in your gut are harmless; some are beneficial. Scientists have known for years that bacteria in the gut breakdown dietary toxins, synthesize certain vitamins, and regulate gut development. Recent research suggests gut bacteria can also influence immune function (Science336:1268-73, 2012). 
Myth: You can’t change gut flora. The amounts and types of dietary protein, carbohydrate, and fat all influenced the abundance of various bacteria in the gut (Science333:101-4, 2011).However, usually researchers alter the type and amount of bacteria in the human gut by feeding probiotics (nonpathogenic live bacteria and other microorganisms)and prebiotics (non-digestible substances). The most common sources of probiotics are unpasteurized yogurt, cheeses, and buttermilk, which are produced by culturing milk or cream with various strains of Lactobacillus bacteria. The most effective prebiotics are soluble fibers, like those found in oat bran and psyllium husk.  
Myth: Gut flora can’t affect weight control. There is no doubt that the gut flora of obese and normal humans differ. The mystery is: Do the differences in gut microbes contribute to obesity? Or does weight loss trigger changes in the bacteria in the gut? The diet doctors of Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight could be onto something important. 
Don’t be a skeptic. See real action and truly devious thought patterns in the twisting plot of Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. 
Learn more about JL Greger at her website ( and her blog ( called JL Greger’s Bugs.  
- Available now from Amazon -
Coming Flu
by J.L. Greger
Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight        
by J. L. Greger

5 Comments to Guest Blogger JL Greger:

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JL Greger on Friday, April 12, 2013 8:36 AM
Thanks for hosting me. Wow you set it up beautifully. I hope this weird topic interests readers. JL Greger
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sally carpenter on Friday, April 12, 2013 1:01 PM
Never knew that about gut bacteria. Eewww. Wish I had some fat eating bacteria so I can eat fun foods! Looking forward to your new book.
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Lesley A. Diehl on Friday, April 12, 2013 1:36 PM
I love mysteries in which the reader learns something new. Both your books sound like I'd lvoe them, so I put them on my TBR list. I feel fortujnatge that Janet will be visiting my blog soon. Maybe she'll reveal more about gut bacteria.
Reply to comment

JL Greger on Saturday, April 13, 2013 7:48 AM
Glad you're interested in my books. And I'm pleased that gut bacteria (in all their grossness caught your imagination). I don't know if gut bacteria will be in the blog for your site Leslie. There's a lot that can said about weight control and dieting. JL Greger
Reply to comment

Janet Greger on Saturday, April 13, 2013 7:58 AM
Thanks for the comments. I'm glad the (gross) gut bacteria piqued your interest and hope you enjoy MURDER: A NEW WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT. Leslie, you may be surprised about what I put in my guest blog at your site. There's a lot to say about weight control and dieting. JL
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