Tag Archives: gut health

yogurt, healthy gut

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
constipation

Constipation: Tips for Finding Relief Fast

Yes, we all do it, but that doesn’t make the subject any less taboo. People rarely talk about it, yet research shows that 74 percent of Americans are living with problems with it. If you haven’t guessed it by now, we’re talking about poop.

We know that the word probably makes you cringe. It’s something that you don’t often discuss with others, but your digestive health is one of the major keys to your health. If you’re not eliminating properly, it’s impossible for you to feel your best. Digestive issues can vary, but one of the most prevalent is constipation—a complaint that affects up to 42 million Americans.

And with more time spent at home, and more time eating processed foods, lately, constipation has gotten even worse. If you’re struggling with constipation, these tips can help get things moving again.

The Basics of Constipation

Constipation comes in different forms. You may have hard stools or have to strain during bowel movements. You may not be able to go at all. The Mayo Clinic defines constipation as having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week, but in theory, a healthy digestive system allows you to eliminate at least after every meal – up to 3 times per day.

There are many things that can make you constipated – a low-fiber diet, lack of exercise, not drinking enough water. For many of you, the issue is probably a combination of all of the above. We know it’s hard to feel your best when you’re stopped up, so we put together this list of things that you can do to get things moving again.

How to Alleviate Constipation

Tip 1: Eat a diet high in fiber.

Fiber helps the body form a soft, bulky stools that are easier to pass. If your diet is lacking in fiber right now, increase your intake gradually. It takes time for your body to get used to excess fiber, and if you increase your intake too quickly, it can result in other digestive complaints like painful bloating and gas. Aim for a goal of 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat. If you’re on a 1,500 calorie diet, this means you need 21 grams of fiber each day. Choose whole-grains, fresh fruits, dried fruits, beans, bran cereals and vegetables. Avoid white flour, processed foods, cheese, meat and dairy, which are lacking in fiber and can actually contribute to constipation.

Tip 2: Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, which help soften the stool.

Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day and stay away from soda and fruit juices, which contain large amounts of sugar and can contribute to weight gain. If you drink caffeinated beverages, like tea or coffee, add an extra cup of water for every caffeinated drink.

Tip 3: Exercise regularly.

You may not connect exercise with your poop, but exercise helps to stimulate intestinal activity, making it easier for waste to move through the digestive system. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking, biking, swimming, or stair climbing, per day.

Tip 4: Never ignore when your body tells you it’s time to go.

We know that life gets busy and sometimes you may feel like you have to go at an inopportune time, but do your best to excuse yourself and hit the John when the urge strikes. Holding in a bowel movements contributes to constipation, so when you feel that urge, find a bathroom ASAP.

Tip 5: Set aside time for bathroom use.

Giving yourself enough time to go is an important factor in alleviating constipation. Train your body to use the restroom at approximately the same time every day by giving yourself some time in the bathroom at certain hours. Following a set schedule can help regulate the body’s digestive cycle.

Tip 6: Take probiotics.

Probiotics help balance the ratio of bacteria in your gut, regulating your digestive system and boosting your immune system. All probiotics are not created equal, though, so make sure you choose a high-quality probiotic.

Caution: Use laxatives only as a last resort. While laxatives may provide some immediate relief, the results are temporary and they are not without side effects. Laxatives can be habit-forming and overuse may decrease the body’s ability to have an unassisted bowel movement. If you must use a laxative, choose bulk-forming laxatives, rather than stimulant laxatives, which work by adding water and bulk to the stool so that they can pass more easily through your digestive system.

 

probiotics for your gut

Probiotics and Your Immune System

It was Hippocrates, who is often coined as the “Father of Medicine,” who said that all disease begins in the gut. The gut has become an increasingly popular topic over past severals. Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep your gut healthy to help keep your immune system strong. And probiotics can help with that.

Although proper digestion is a major benefit of probiotics, it goes far behind that. Let’s back up a minute and talk about your gut.

Probiotics and Your Gut

You are actually more bug than you are human. Now don’t be alarmed. All that means is that the number of bacterial cells in your body outweighs the amount of cells that are actually “human”.

Although you may think of bacteria as nothing more than bugs that cause disease, this is largely untrue. The bacteria in your gut play crucial roles in digestion, nutritional status, and your immune health.

There are many different strains of bacteria that live in your digestive tract. Each one of these strains has its own specific function. However, as a whole, these bacteria help produce vitamins, like vitamin K, and break down carbohydrates that you would otherwise be unable to digest. There is even some research that shows that the bacteria in your gut play a role in your mental health.

Benefits of Gut Bacteria

The bacteria in your gut—also lovingly called your intestinal flora—also helps your immune system. When potentially harmful bacteria, or other types of pathogens, enter your digestive tract, the bacteria already living in your gut help suppress them. This prevents them from expressing and causing an illness. If the bacteria in your gut are out of balance, you become more susceptible to infection from these invading bacteria and viruses.

Because the bacteria in your gut are living organisms, they can actually die off when conditions aren’t suitable for them. Poor diet, stress, chronic use of antibiotics, and illness can all change the environment of your gut, which also changes the balance of gut bacteria. If your intestinal flora becomes imbalanced, it can lead to things like gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation, increased susceptibility to illness, and even depression.

The key to keeping your gut bacteria happy is to eat a proper diet and to supplement that diet with probiotics. So what is the proper diet to promote a happy, balanced gut?

The Best Diet for Gut Health

Good bacteria thrive on fiber. That’s why high-fiber goods like legumes and vegetables are an ideal food source for the bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods, like saukerkraut, miso, and tempeh contain probiotic cultures. These foods actually help increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. It’s best to avoid refined sugar and fruit in excess, which can feed yeast—another organism in your body that can outnumber the good bacteria and cause infection.

If you’re dealing with digestive distress, a probiotic supplement, like our Probiotic-5, may be just what you need. Probiotic supplements actually contain live bacteria that you swallow (usually in pill form) to repopulate your digestive tract. A good probiotic can help improve GI function, increase immunity, and promote overall health.

 

Do you currently take a probiotic? If so, what differences have you seen in your health since starting your supplement regimen?