At any given moment, about 42 percent of adults around the world are trying to lose weight. And while most journeys revolve around diet, exercise, or the occasional quick fix, there's also something to be said about gut health and weight loss. Read on to learn how healthy gut bacteria can impact your ability to lose weight.
The human body functions somewhat like a bacterial ecosystem. In fact, we possess so many bacterial cells they actually surpass the number of human cells contained within our bodies. While we know bacteria live on the skin, in the nose, and on our ears, it's just as important to discuss the bacteria living in our gut. We call this the "gut microbiome," though it is also known as gastrointestinal microbiota or gut flora, and is home to trillions of bacterial microbes.
Gut bacteria is so influential that it can actually affect our health and even our mood. Our individual gut microbiome contributes to our body type, interacts with our DNA, and the types of diseases we are prone to.
The processes that influence the gut microbiome may be set in motion before we're even born. A pregnant mother's diet, a premature birth, and the decision to bottle or breastfeed are all believed to contribute to our microbiome composition.
Other influences revolve around the way in which we come into the world. For instance, babies born through vaginal delivery get most of their gut bacteria from the mother. C-section babies aren't often afforded the same luxury and are often administered antibiotics, which can impact the microbiome composition. In their quest to kill bad bacteria, these medications can also eliminate friendly bacteria, which can cause dysbiosis; an imbalance in the gut microbiome. Dysbiosis is linked to a range of health conditions including:
Your gut microbiome (gut microbiota) also performs key functions in the body. Though they work independently, different organs in the gut are in constant communication with each other through hormones and nerves. Ideally, this results in healthy gut bacteria, which helps the body complete the following tasks:
Gut health also has a tremendous impact on body fat and weight loss. Below, we'll explore how gut microbes can influence our tendencies to gain weight and the ability to lose it.
The digestive system houses the microbiome. It also makes up one of 11 major human body systems and regularly interacts with each one. Whenever you eat or drink, your digestion is driven by a combination of bacteria, blood, hormones, nerves, and your organs..
Research suggests that a fat diet high in processed fats, polyunsaturated fats, and trans fats can affect the bacteria in your gut flora, and promote weight gain. On the flip side, studies show that people on a Mediterranean-style diet, which only incorporates healthy fats, have a lower rate of obesity, indicating that optimal gut health begins with your eating habits. Beneficial bacteria are also linked to healthy aging and lower inflammation.
Meanwhile, high-fiber foods help feed the bacteria that help digest food. This slows down the digestive process, making you feel fuller for longer; it's precisely why so many weight loss interventions encourage individuals to incorporate more dietary fiber into their eating patterns.
Whole grains are a great example of high-fiber foods. They contain Beta-glucans (BG), types of soluble fibers that come from the cell walls of algae, bacteria, fungi, and yeasts.
On the other hand, a diet high in unhealthy fats and sugar increases both the risk of health issues and weight gain. In one study, researchers compared mice raised in a sterile environment that had no microorganisms in their gut, and conventionally reared mice.
The researchers found that the conventionally reared mice had a 40% higher body fat content than their counterparts. They concluded that germ-free mice fed a high-fat and sugar-rich diet will eat more and gain less.
Overeating can trigger the immune system, causing the body to experience excessive inflammation. While it's true that acute inflammation is the body's natural response to injury or infection, chronic inflammation can also be indicative of an unhealthy gut. Chronic stress, poor sleep patterns, and mental health problems can also promote inflammation in the body.
Studies have found that key inflammatory markers in the blood also increase as weight increases. Chronic intestinal inflammation associated with overeating can also promote some significant health risks.
Fortunately, some slight manipulations of the gut microbiome can help you maintain a proper inflammatory response. These kinds of interventions can be monitored through things like blood samples, stool samples, or dietary questionnaires.
If you want to control your body weight, it's best to stick to anti-inflammatory and plant-based foods containing healthy fats, like avocados and whole grains.
Our bodies have a sophisticated way to control food intake. One of these controls is the production of gut hormones that chemically signal to the brain that our body needs food.. Healthy bacteria can affect how different foods are digested, which can, in turn, produce similar chemicals that signal the brain that you feel “full.”
Unfortunately, when gut bacteria is compromised, the precision of this process decreases. In 2010, a team at Cambridge University Press actually found that the reduced bacterial diversity in the gut flora was directly linked to obesity.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to influence your gut microbiome and correct the microbial dysbiosis associated with conditions like obesity. Green tea, for instance, contains healing compounds like polyphenols. Fruits and vegetables are considered polyphenol-rich foods. These items contain anti-microbial properties and promote digestive health.
Below are a few easy tips to help you achieve healthy gut bacteria.
Probiotic foods are an easy and effective way to support your gut microbiome. The term refers to a type of organism that can help promote beneficial gut bacteria and are often found in supplements and fermented foods. They also influence immune response. And remember, 70 percent of the immune system is located inside the intestine. That means immune cells regularly interact with the microbiome. The happier your immune system is, the more good gut bacteria you'll develop, and the easier it will be to initiate a weight loss response.
Prebiotic fibers help good bacteria grow to promote a healthy gut. This in turn helps your gut produce nutrients for your colon cells, which support a healthy digestive system. Some of the nutrients your gut produces include short-chain fatty acids.
Examples of prebiotic foods include raw garlic, raw chicory root, dandelion greens, oats, under-ripe bananas, onions, and raw leeks.
Probiotics can also be found in fermented foods. The word "fermented" means that the food has already been digested by bacteria. In addition to containing beneficial bacteria, they are rich in minerals, nutrients, and B vitamins.
Examples of fermented foods include miso, pickles, kefir, cottage cheese, yogurt, and kimchi. These foods help us absorb nutrients, which is key for your gut microbiome. Sadly, poor nutrient absorption is way too common, and even if you're eating the right food, you're not getting the benefit unless you absorb nutrients.
Consumed in moderation, red meat can be a nutritious addition to a healthy lifestyle. While unprocessed meat is a great source of many nutrients, like zinc, which is essential for immune health, high-fiber foods are much more beneficial to the digestive system.
Processed food refers to any kind of food that has been altered from its original condition. Think white flour, white rice, crackers, pizza crust, frozen dinners, cookies, canned fruits, bread, and breakfast cereals. These items have been linked to many diseases including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Unfortunately, they are wildly popular among the American public and have likely contributed to high adult obesity rates.
That umbrella also extends to fast food, which is full of additives, artificial sweeteners, flavoring agents, and preservatives. These items are known to promote weight gain by lowering satiety; the inability to feel full.
Maintaining a healthy gut isn't just essential for your overall health, it's also an important element to factor into your weight loss journey. To effectively achieve a healthy microbiome, it's important to remain informed about its status. Çava Health is eager to help with the introduction of the world's first health-tracking toilet seat.
Constructed with the latest sensor technology, the Çava Seat tracks your gut health, heart health, fitness progress and more, without changing your daily routine. Daily bathroom visits provide the information needed to identify gut imbalances and food intolerances.
By gathering vitals and tracking your body's composition, the Çava Seat is able to make recommendations to make weight loss easy and achievable. Join the waitlist now, shipping starts summer 2022.
You can increase good gut bacteria by consuming nutrient-dense vegetables such as spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and asparagus. Regularly ingesting probiotics and prebiotics will also help ensure that your microbiome is optimized for weight loss.
Yes. Eating foods that boost friendly bacteria and staying away from those that attack your healthy bacteria will help you achieve a healthy digestive system. A healthy digestive system produces chemicals that signal to the brain when you're full to prevent overeating. Meanwhile, a more compromised system may encourage you to keep eating even if you are no longer hungry.
You can balance your gut bacteria by reducing or eliminating processed foods from your diet. These foods feed bad bacteria that promote weight gain and can increase your risk of chronic diseases. You should also be careful with drugs like antibiotics which can cause dysbiosis.
It's also important to eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes like lentils, probiotics and prebiotic foods. These will support your gut health, which your immune system relies on to function effectively.