If you’ve tried everything, and the weight you’ve gained isn’t coming off it might be something most diets don’t address—gut bacteria. The connection between gut health and weight gain is being researched like never before. Understanding how your nutritional intake influences weight, immunity, and whole-body health can be game-changing. It may also help you to maintain your weight loss if you’re on Semaglutide and decide to stop taking it.

What Are Gut Bacteria?

Not all bacteria are bad. While some internal and external bacteria can make you sick, many positively contribute to your health. But it’s not a simple matter of “good” vs. “bad”.
Also referred to as the gut microbiome, microorganisms, and gut flora, Harvard Health finds that there are about 1 trillion bacteria living in the digestive system—derived from over 5,000 species. This includes “good” and “bad” bacteria. It’s a delicate balance though, as too much of a “good” bacteria can be bad, and a little bit of a “bad” bacteria isn’t always bad.
When speaking in terms of digestion, your bacteria influence your:

  • Nutrient absorption
  • Immune function
  • Regulating hormones
  • Mood and behavior
  • Whole-body health

How Gut Health and Weight Gain Are Connected?

Different bacteria play different roles in the body, which is why balance is essential. In the past decade, there have been a variety of twin studies, focused on how two people with the exact same genes can eat the same foods—and have different outcomes.
In one study, twins who ate the same foods, exercised the same amount, and slept the same amount had completely different blood sugar, metabolism, and weight loss results. To understand why, researchers were led to the gut microbe.
There are certain bacteria that help the body regulate factors such as hunger, metabolism, hormones, and digestion. If you don’t have the proper microbial balance in your digestive tract, it may be why you aren’t losing weight.
According to Science Direct, high levels of the bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri are associated with obesity. Maintaining the proper balance of other bacteria, including Bifidobacterium animalis and Methanobrevibacter smithii, increases the likelihood of maintaining a healthy weight.
Understanding the connection between gut health and weight gain could be your missing link!

How to Determine Your Gut Microbe?

Netflix’s documentary Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut highlights a test that isn’t currently standard in most annual physicals—a gut health/gut flora test. Your test results empower you to learn the unique changes you need to make to your nutrition to benefit your health beyond weight.
You can order gut flora tests online or request one from Valley Medical Weight Loss and Med Spa.

Aren’t Probiotics Enough?

When it comes to managing your gut health at home, dietary fiber and probiotics are the two most common considerations. We’ll dive into fiber below, but let’s discuss probiotics first.
Probiotic supplements contain strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. There are over 260 strains of lactobacillus in the gut, with a target of at least 6%. There are 9 strains of bifidobacterium in the gut, with a target of about 15%. If you don’t have enough of these primary strains, taking probiotics can help regulate your gut microbe. After a few weeks (or months) of probiotic supplementation, your digestion, immunity, and overall health may improve.
While supplementation can help to grow these “good bacteria” they aren’t effective at stimulating the growth of the full spectrum of bacteria your body requires to thrive.  

Why Dietary Fiber Is Important For Weight Loss?

Fiber intake is often referred to in terms of “staying regular”. This may be to minimize constipation or bulk stool up when experiencing diarrhea. However, fiber does much more in the body than regulating your bowel movements—it helps you grow a more diverse range of digestive bacteria.
Fiber is a prebiotic. While probiotics grow certain strains of bacteria, prebiotics feed “good” strains of bacteria. If you aren’t feeding your “good bacteria” it doesn’t matter how much you grow new bacteria—as it won’t live without adequate fiber intake.
There are 2 primary types of fiber:

  • Soluble: Soluble fiber is found in psyllium (aka. Metamucil), beans, nuts, seeds, and some fruits and vegetables. It attracts water and gels up while digested, slowing down digestion. It’s good for both diarrhea and constipation.
  • Insoluble: Insoluble fiber is found in most fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It bulks stool up and helps food move through the digestive tract. It accelerates digestion, so it isn’t suggested for diarrhea—but it’s great for constipation.

When it comes to gut health and weight gain, think beyond soluble and insoluble fiber. Supporting optimal health and microbiome balance requires nutrient diversity.

How Much Dietary Fiber Should You Eat Per Day?

The average American gets about 15 grams of fiber per day, but the suggested amount is 25 to 30 grams per day. Some physicians believe we should be aiming for 30+ grams per day.
In addition to counting your grams of fiber, Dr. Annie Gupta from the Netflix documentary Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut suggests eating 20 to 30 different fruits and vegetables per week. This takes the standard recommendation of 3 to 5 servings per day to a whole new level, as her take promotes nutrient diversity.
Different fruits and vegetables introduce and feed different bacteria. They also contain different vitamins and nutrients. If you’ve ever heard the term “eat the rainbow”, it refers to the nutrient properties found in different colored produce.
Dr. Gupta suggests the A, B, Cs to get to at least 20 fruits and veggies per week:

  • Always
  • Be
  • Counting

But it’s not as simple as fiber, because everything you eat and drink can impact your gut microbe.

How Everything You Eat Impacts Gut Health?

Gut health is one of many reasons to keep processed foods to a minimum in your diet. The chemicals in processed ingredients can kill healthy bacteria while feeding unhealthy bacteria. If you struggle with food cravings, it may be the unhealthy bacteria sending signals to your brain to feed the unhealthy bacteria. Yet, another way gut health and weight gain are connected.
The microbial ecologist Jack Gilbert, featured in Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut, had this to say:
“If you eat a lot of sugar, you get sugar-loving bugs. If you eat a lot of fat, you get a lot of fat-loving bugs.”
Beyond sugar and chemicals, the gut is often referred to as the “second brain”. With the proper balance of beneficial bacteria, your immunity is likely to remain high. Immunity isn’t only a measurement of whether you are sick or healthy, as it refers to the proper function of all organs and systems in your body. You don’t have to feel sick for some of your organs to be under (or over) performing.
Since 70% of your immune system is located in the gut, what you eat matters. By following the ABCs you’re more likely to get the range of nutrients and minerals your body requires.

How to Improve Your Gut Bacteria For Weight Loss?

Whether to explore your gut health and weight gain, immunity, or whole-body health you can make a few changes to your nutrition and lifestyle that provide healthy gut bacteria with the energy needed to grow and multiply. Let’s focus on the things you can do beyond reducing your caloric intake.

Order a Gut Microbe Test
Order an at-home gut microbe test and share your results with us. Or order a test through Valley Medical Weight Loss and Med Spa.

Personalize Your Nutrition
Use your gut microbe test as a guide for how to personalize your nutrition. Pair this with a scientifically proven meal plan that isn’t based on deprivation like most fad diets.

Prioritize the ABCs
As referenced above, aim to eat 20 to 30 different fruits and vegetables per week. This doesn’t necessarily have to be full servings, as a small side of a fermented or pickled food counts as 1.

Keep Processed Foods to a Minimum
Keep processed foods to a minimum. This isn’t only due to the typically high sugar, fat, and caloric content of processed foods—but also due to the chemicals that disrupt your gut health.

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
It will never be 100% perfect, but keep stress to a minimum, hydrate, get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and work out for 30 minutes 5 times a week.

Need Help Personalizing Your Nutrition?

If you live in the Phoenix area and have tried every fad diet and exercise routine with little to no results—it’s time for a personalized approach. Schedule an appointment with Valley Medical Weight Loss and Med Spa to discuss your options.
Our weight loss solutions are evidence-based and personalized to your unique needs. Beyond the link between gut health and weight gain, we have a variety of options to explore. This includes Weight Loss Medications, Weekly, and Monthly Weight Loss Programs, and Supplements to optimize your body from the inside out.
Reach out to learn more!

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