Tag Archives: gut bacteria

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Healthy Gut Bacteria Can Help You Lose Weight

Healthy gut bacteria is an often overlooked key to improving health and losing weight

Did you know that when you eat a piece of pizza, you aren’t the only one consuming all of those calories? There are trillions of bacteria in your gut you share that pizza, and all the rest of your food with.

This sounds pretty great because you aren’t actually absorbing all the calories of the food you eat. There are more bacteria living in and on your body than you have cells, and those bacteria need plenty to eat.

But it also means there’s a lot more going on inside our bodies when it comes to our health and weight. We have to be aware of the role our gut bacteria plays in our health.

The importance of healthy gut bacteria has become more clear in recent years with more studies finding that your microbiome impacts your health in unexpected ways. The bacteria in your body help your immune system work better and supply essential nutrients vitamins to the rest of your body.

Researchers are also finding that gut bacteria play a role in weight gain and weight loss

The connection between healthy gut bacteria and weight

Some of the earliest research into the gut microbiome and weight loss showed the connection between certain types of bacteria and weight. 

There are a lot of different bacteria in your body. You have Prevotella that helps you digest carbohydrates and fiber. Then there’s Bacteroidetes for processing meat and fats. You also have Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia which are important for your gut barrier. They line your intestines and prevent inflammation by limiting inflammatory chemicals from entering your bloodstream. And this isn’t even scratching the surface of all the bacteria in your body.

What’s fascinating is that the types of bacteria you have drastically influence your weight. So much so that scientists discovered that when they put the gut flora from overweight humans into lean mice, the mice gained weight weight.

Other studies showed that scientists could predict whether a person would be overweight or lean based on their gut microbes. Even in twin studies, researchers could predict which twin was lean or overweight based on the flora in their gut. They found that the lean twin and the overweight twin have different types of gut flora, and bacteria in different quantities. Individuals who are lean have bacteria in greater quantities and with more diversity compared with those who are overweight.

So what can you do to improve your gut health?

Eat more fermented foods

One of the best things you can do for your gut health is to eat fermented foods. What are those exactly?

Fermented foods have gone through the process of fermentation—which is when yeast and bacteria break down food components into something new. So when the yeast and bacteria break down sugars into other molecules that change the taste, texture, and flavor of the food or drink.

Some common examples of healthy fermented foods are sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, skyr, tempeh, miso, and kombucha.

Eating more of all of these foods have been associated with improved gut health and weight loss. Especially yogurt. One weight loss study looked into the impact of dietary factors on weight and found that people who introduced yogurt into their diet and ate it regularly lost weight over the course of the year.

Eat more fiber

We often talk about how eating fiber is great for curbing your appetite. High fiber foods are known to be low-calorie, high-satiety. They keep you feeling full longer than other foods like simple carbohydrates and processed foods. 

But fiber is also helpful for losing weight by promoting a healthy gut microbiome. Fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breakfast cereals provide the type of fiber and nutrients that your gut bacteria likes to feed on.

Aim to get the recommended amount of fiber every day. You should have 25–30 grams of fiber from food, not from supplements. Most American adults don’t get enough fiber and it wreaks havoc on the gut flora.

Eat less processed sugar

All the highly processed foods packed with sugar and unhealthy fats aren’t just bad for your own cells. They’re bad for your gut bacteria too. 

Part of the reason that so many people lack a healthy quantity of the gut bacteria that help them break down food properly is that many of the bacteria that rely on fiber and complex carbohydrates from legumes and whole grains have been starved. 

Your bacteria can’t live on sugars alone. So when they’re only fed unhealthy foods, they become so hungry that they die or adapt and eat what’s available: the mucus inside your intestines. Sounds gross, I know. But experts believe that this could contribute to inflammation, which is linked to obesity.

So just like your cells require the variety of nutrients found in whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, and complex carbohydrates, the bacteria in your body need a healthy diet too. And the healthier they are, the healthier you can be too.

Talk with experts

Making sure your gut bacteria is healthy and thriving requires a lot of the same dietary and lifestyle changes to keep the rest of your body healthy. And there’s no doubt that making such lifestyle changes are hard to do. Especially when trying to do it alone.

At Valley Medical Weight Loss, we help you with your weight loss plans and talk about creating a diet that works for you and keeps your gut flora healthy.

Contact our experts and get the support you deserve to lose weight and live your healthiest, happiest life.

Sources

  1. E;, Thaiss CA;Zmora N;Levy M;Elinav. “The Microbiome and Innate Immunity.” Nature, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27383981/.
  2. LeBlanc JG;Milani C;de Giori GS;Sesma F;van Sinderen D;Ventura M; “Bacteria as Vitamin Suppliers to Their Host: a Gut Microbiota Perspective.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22940212/.
  3. Ridaura VK;Faith JJ;Rey FE;Cheng J;Duncan AE;Kau AL;Griffin NW;Lombard V;Henrissat B;Bain JR;Muehlbauer MJ;Ilkayeva O;Semenkovich CF;Funai K;Hayashi DK;Lyle BJ;Martini MC;Ursell LK;Clemente JC;Van Treuren W;Walters WA;Knight R;Newgard CB;Heath AC;Gordon J. “Gut Microbiota from Twins Discordant for Obesity Modulate Metabolism in Mice.” Science (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24009397/.
  4. Turnbaugh, Peter J, et al. “A Core Gut Microbiome in Obese and Lean Twins.” Nature, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Jan. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19043404.
  5. Mozaffarian, Dariush, et al. “Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, 15 Sept. 2011, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/Nejmoa1014296
yogurt

Probiotics Versus Prebiotics

Last week we discussed the role certain bacteria in the gut play in helping you lose weight where we briefly touched upon the subject of prebiotics. Many of you asked us to clarify what prebiotics are and explain the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, which are more widely known.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria. They are found in certain foods and drinks, like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and miso. There are also a wide variety of probiotic supplements available on the market in both powder and capsule form.

The term probiotics is used to describe any living bacteria that is beneficial to its host: you. In studies, probiotics have been shown to boost the immune system, prevent infection, improve digestive function, and boost mood.

Because probiotics are living organisms, they can be very unstable. They are sensitive to both heat and light, and generally must be kept in a cool, dark, dry place — the refrigerator is usually best.

What are Prebiotics?

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not live organisms. Prebiotics is the term used to describe a specialized type of plant fiber that feeds probiotics. Basically, the probiotics (or live bacteria) feed on prebiotics in order to grow and multiply. The body itself can’t digest these plant fibers, so they’re left to promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Like probiotics, prebiotics come in food sources, like onions, garlics, leeks, and kefir, and as over-the-counter supplements.

Synbiotic Regimen

When you take both probiotics and prebiotics together — or consume both probiotic and prebiotic foods — it’s called a synbiotic regimen. The best way to ensure that the bacteria in your gut are flourishing — or that the probiotic you’re taking is working — is to take probiotics and prebiotics together.

Some foods, like cheese, kefir, and certain types of yogurt, are called synbiotic foods because they contain both probiotics and prebiotics. You can also purchase synbiotic supplements.

gut

The Secret to Weight Loss May Be in the Gut

For years, health professionals claimed that the only thing you have to focus on when it comes to weight loss is calories. If the calories you eat total less than the calories you burn through regular daily living and exercise, then you would lose the weight. Simple, right? Not so fast. More recent research shows that it’s not that simple. Many people on restricted calorie diets and exercising regularly did not see results, which led to frustration and abandonment of a weight loss regimen altogether. So what gives?

While calories do play a role in weight loss — if you overeat, you won’t lose weight — they’re not the end all, be all. Other things, like genetics, metabolism, and types of food you eat, matter too. But researchers were not satisfied with this either, so they dug a little deeper, which led them into the gut.

By now, you’ve probably heard about how the gut plays a role in your health. In fact, Hippocrates, often referred to as the Father of Medicine, went so far as to say that all disease begins in the gut. But your gut doesn’t just play a role in disease, or the absence of it, it also plays a role in how easily it is for you to lose weight.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, your ability to lose weight depends heavily on the amount of two types of bacteria — bacteroides and prevotella — in your gut. These two types of bacteria help digest the fiber in your diet and, based on research, people with higher concentrations of them in their gut tend to lose weight faster and more easily.

How Do you Measure Bacteria?

The bad news here is that the only way to know if you’re one of the people who has high concentrations of bacteroides and prevotella in your gut is to collect a sample of your stool and ship it off to the lab. But here’s the good news: you don’t really need to know because either way, you can do the things necessary to boost the number of these bacteria and improve your gut health and meet your weight loss goals.

Boosting Bacteroides and Prevotella

You can’t find bacteroides and prevotella in a probiotic supplement because they only have the ability to live outside of the human body for a short period of time. But what you can do is give these bacteria the nourishment they need to grow and multiply so that they take up residence in your gut in higher numbers. The way to do this is by consuming pre-biotics, which are plant-based fibers that feed them. Foods like chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apples, flaxseeds, wheat bran, and jicama contain prebiotic fibers.

Of course, even though you can’t directly increase bacteroides and prevotella through supplementation with probiotics, it’s not a bad idea to take them since they help balance the rest of the gut microbiome.