Gut health and weight loss go hand in hand.
You’ve probably heard of gut health, but have you ever really thought about how important it is for your OVERALL health?
What is gut health?
Gut health is the function and balance of bacteria in the many parts of the gastrointestinal tract. The term “gut microbiome” refers specifically to the microorganisms living in your intestines.
If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” or had that “gut feeling” to make a decision, or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, these are clues that the brain and gut are talking to each other. This is why your gut is known as the second brain .
This “brain in your gut” is the link between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
Scientists call this brain the enteric nervous system (ENS).
There is research showing that a healthy gut can even improve your mood, your thinking and can help boost memory.
There are many different types of bacteria in the gut, good and bad.
We will not talk much about bad bacteria in this post. But just know that bad bacteria causes illnesses like digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, some diseases and has even been linked to mood fluctuations.
On the other hand, our bodies have a symbiotic relationship with our good bacteria. This means the bacteria lives with us and on us in a way that is beneficial for both of us.
One of the amazing benefits of having a healthy gut is the production of short-chain fatty acids by the good gut bacteria.
These short-chain fatty acids are the main source of nutrition for the cells in your colon. The release of these short-chain fatty acids play an important role in reducing the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions while improving the immune system.
The opposite of symbiosis is dysbiosis, or the disruption in the balance of the microbiota, which can lead to physical problems that show up as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, even depression and anxiety.
Gut health is an important, yet often neglected, factor in losing weight and can impact your overall health.
Not a lot of people know this fact. So in today’s blog post, I am sharing a roundup of facts on how gut health works and how it can affect your ability to lose weight.
In fact, in a new study, scientists found that weight loss is heavily influenced by the genes and enzymes within the bacteria living in your gut.
The science behind gut microbiome and its effect on weight loss or weight gain is still in its infancy. However, this new study expands our understanding to how the gut microbiota influences weight-loss outcomes.
Gut Health and Weight Loss: How To Improve Gut Health For Weight Loss
Your gut health can either help or cause resistance to weight loss.
Thankfully, you can drastically improve the health of bacteria in your gut by doing just a few easy things on a daily basis.
1.Eat more probiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. Probiotics are found in yogurt, kefir, tempeh and fermented foods. You can strengthen these good bacteria with prebiotics. Because probiotics are living things, they need food for these healthy bacteria to survive and thrive. Prebiotics is the food for the bacteria’s growth.
You find prebiotics in fiber rich foods like apricots, artichokes, almonds, pistachios and legumes, berries, apples. You can boost fiber when you eat these fruits and vegetables with their skin.
Here is my favorite smoothie recipe that is fiber rich and loaded with prebiotics!
2. Fill up on fermented foods.
Some examples of fermented foods are: kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, and yogurt.
Fermented foods are important because they are loaded with probiotics. They further help strengthen the health of your gut bacteria.
3. Limit processed foods.
Even though most foods are processed these days, pay attention to the ultra-processed and refined foods because they lack diversity and fiber. They are also filled with added sugars, salt, artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives. Your microbiome thrives on diverse fibers that can be found in a variety of plant-based foods like colorful fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try to choose a wide variety of colorful produce items when you go to the grocery store to maintain a healthy microbiome.
Disclaimer: please note that the gut microbiota isn’t the only factor that influences weight and body fat. There are many other variables that play a role including age, physical activity, diet, and gender.
Medications and the gut microbiome
Let’s quickly talk about medications as it is important to know that some very common medications can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome.
This is NOT to say you need to stop taking your medication, but if you are taking some of those listed below, it may be a good idea to really focus on strengthening your gut microbiome and increasing your fruit, veggie, and fermented foods intake.
Some medications you should be mindful of and that can affect gut health include:
- Antibiotics – While antibiotics can be highly effective in treating serious bacterial infections, there is concern about misuse and overuse.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs (i.e., Motrin, Advil and Aleve) disrupt the normal balance of the beneficial bacteria living in your gut.
- Antacids – All antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach, which is the body’s first line of defense from harmful pathogens that we eat every day. We increase our risk for stomach bugs and infections if we are taking antacids regularly.
- Antidepressants – One of the most popular classes of anti-depressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Scientists estimate that 90 percent of serotonin is made in the gut. Imbalances in serotonin have been linked to diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
- Sleeping pills – Like antidepressants, sleeping pills are fat-soluble drugs. They can penetrate the gut wall and injure the natural balance of the digestive system.
- Laxatives – Laxatives can also affect the balance of gut bacteria.
- Statins – Statins, or cholesterol lowering medications, may negatively influence the balance of gut bacteria.
Please review with your physician or primary care provider before taking or stopping any drugs and medications.
If you want to learn more about how to build your meals for a healthy weight loss that prioritizes your gut health, click here.