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Gut Health And Weight Loss – Are They Linked?

There are trillions of microorganisms with over 1000 species that reside inside your belly – and we used to think it was a simple structure. Scientists have named this the microbiome, which consists of bacteria, yeast, and numerous other microorganisms. Studies show how microbes are an essential part of our human body as our immune system, weight, gastrointestinal system, and other essential aspects all depend on microbes.

Now that we are on the topic of the “gut”, it might sound surprising that gut health and weight loss are indeed connected; gut health has a significant impact on body weight.

This article will move you through the sound knowledge of gut health and its link to weight loss. You’ll learn how the microbiome in your gut influences your health, the impact of different types of bacteria on your weight, and interesting ways you can restore your gut.

Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

The reason why some people are obese and some are lean simply lies in their guts. In recent studies, scientists found that genes and enzymes within the bacteria active in your gut regulate your body weight. They also are the leading factors of weight loss. A small interventional study 1 in 33 overweight individuals receiving dietary intervention showed significant microbiome changes. The results were recorded over 3 months. After weight reduction, there was a significant increase in total bacterial abundance. ‘Faecalibacterium prausnitzii’ increased, and Bacteroidetes decreased.

Your gut health might not be the same as the person next to you. Having numerous different types of gut bacteria protects against weight gain. The microbiomes vary in every individual according to their lifestyle – their diet and exercise plans. People who eat lots of saturated food are more likely to have Firmicutes bacteria in their gut which absorb calories efficiently from food. On the other hand, those with a balanced diet focusing more on beans, grains, and a little meat have fewer Firmicutes, which helps them stay lean.

“A lack of diversity in the microbiome may lead to unwanted cravings for junk food, which in the long-term could result in obesity. Having just a few types of bacteria in your gut gives the bacteria a way to organize themselves and send certain signals to your brain.” says  San Diego–based nutritionist, Wendy Bazilian, (R.D.) 2. This leads you to craving unhealthy foods and ultimately caving in to that McDonalds Cheeseburger with extra fries. Therefore, different gut bacteria perform various jobs and a broader, healthier spectrum of beneficial bacteria leads to a more controlled metabolism and in return can affect your body weight.

Microbes for Weight Loss

Two major gut bacteria that work on gut weight loss are the Akkermansia mucininphila and Christensenella minuta. These are also called good gut bacteria for weight loss as they help maintain weight by resisting obesity. These bacteria explain how gut health and weight loss work together. The Akkermansia feeds on the mucus, which strengthens your intestinal barrier, producing acetate that regulates body fat.

For any obese individual, studies show 3 that an increase in Akkermansia through different prebiotic fuels could provide resistance to obesity. After an experiment was done on several mice, those treated with muciniphila bacterium gained less weight.  

Christensenella is present in large amounts in lean people and could also be a life-changing solution to treat obesity. This bacterium mostly comes from inheritance, but if you do not have this bacterium, then don’t worry. Christensenella has been shown 4 to increase after diet-induced weight loss. There are numerous probiotic bacteria that you can add to your routine to help regulate your metabolism. Fat burning microbes present in the probiotics, such as the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are known to reduce weight or belly fat.

Feed The Good Gut Bacteria For Possible Weight Loss Benefits

Gut health is sometimes also called “The Garden Within.” Just like gall mites and leaf miners can be damaging to gardens, there are certain types of bacteria that can be bad for your gut.

According to the author of The Immune System Recovery Plan, Susan Blum (M.D.) 5 : “You might have an unhealthy gut if you have a low-fiber diet, a high sugar diet, chronic stress, or take several antibiotics.” These, along with other conditions, allow harmful bacteria like yeast, parasites, salmonella, or pseudomonas to cause damage inside your body, which overall affects your health.

Fiber intake is essential for a healthy gut. A mere 30g of fiber daily, preferably from colorful plants, can help expand your microbiota. Some examples may include orange pumpkin, purple carrots, red peppers, etc. Studies show 6 that people with higher fiber intake have a greater microbiome diversity. 

To improve gut bacteria for weight loss, you need to: boost your fiber intake, manage your stress levels, sleep 7-8 hours daily, eat slowly, stay hydrated, take prebiotics or probiotics, exercise regularly, and eat healthily. Results might show in a few months; don’t expect changes overnight.

Best Foods for Gut Health and Weight Loss

Now that you are more familiar with gut health and how closely it is linked to the diet, let’s go over some types of food that you could include in your daily routine (Added bonus: these foods help promote healthy bacteria to flourish that can contribute to your overall health).

Here as some of the best options to include in your diet for gut health and weight loss:

High-fiber foods

Legumes, beans, bananas, carrots, berries, oats, asparagus, and leeks are rich in fiber and can boost healthy bacteria to help maintain weight. These high-fiber foods will all work well with certain probiotics to amplify the results. The reason for this is because fiber feeds the bacteria in your gut, so in essence the good bacteria can thrive. The bacteria then increases in number and diversity. It is of course optional to consume probiotics with a high-fiber diet. 

Fermented Foods

Excellent dietary sources of probiotics include tempeh, miso, kombucha tea, yogurt, kimchi, and kefir. These foods have numerous benefits for the gut microbiome. It’s not essential to consume large portions; a tablespoon of fermented beets on a salad is enough to do the trick.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onion provide healthy gut bacteria the prebiotics they need to flourish. They are know to improve the immune system of the body and also have anti-cancer properties. You may lose some prebiotics due to cooking so enjoy raw foods whenever possible. You can lightly steam the foods to keep the desired beneficial properties.

Collagen-boosting foods

Adding collagen-rich foods to your everyday routine is super easy. Bone broth and salmon, and other foods rich in collagen are highly beneficial to overall health. An easy way to consume collagen-boosting foods daily is to add some egg whites, berries, citrus fruits, or chicken broth to your diet.

Add Colorful Foods to Your Routine

To achieve a diverse microbial system in your gut, you need to consume colorful foods. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains play an essential role in your gut health. Results show that, on average, people consume only 2.7 servings per day of fruit and vegetables when there need to be at least 13 servings per day. This explains how people can act carelessly about their diets and later get worried about their health.

Studies were done on whether the colors of fruits and vegetables 7 affect the overall health, weight and abdominal fat gain in individuals over a 3-year period. Over 1272 adults were involved in the study, and it was found that a higher intake of red/purple fruits and vegetables were related to lower weight. 

Let’s have a look at some of the beautiful, coloured foods that you can add to your routine:

red coloured foods

Red

(apples, cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit)

Apart from having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, red-colored fruits and vegetables also provide heart health benefits. These are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K1, and folate. They reduce sun-related skin irritation and also lower the risk factors for cancers(11).

Orange

(Oranges, apricots, carrots, mangoes, yams, turmeric)

Rich in Potassium, folate, fiber, and Vitamin C, these orange fruits and veggies provide numerous health benefits. Consuming these may lower cancer risk, maintain a healthy heart, and support your eyes to see sharply and clearly(12).

Yellow

(Bananas, lemons, corn, yellow onions)

Yellow fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C and a wide range of other phytonutrients. They protect your nervous system and prevent heart diseases. Along with boosting your immune system, yellows are suitable for your bones and eye health(14).

Green

(olives, green tea, cabbage, greens, brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, herbs, spinach, broccoli)

The primary nutrients include chlorophyll and carotenoids. Greens are rich in fibre, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, and folate. They have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Consuming these can lower the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Green vegetables are considerably high in magnesium, which could have a calming effect on your brain and body (13).

Blue

(blueberries, blackberries)

These contain fiber, manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and K1. Blue fruits and veggies may protect us against neurological disorders, diabetes, and cancer. Consumption of blueberries is linked to a slower cognitive decline in a population-based study(15).

Purple

(plums, purple grapes, prunes, aubergines, purple cabbage, purple kale)

Purple fruits and vegetables are rich in anthocyanins that lower the risk of heart diseases, stroke, or cancer. These anthocyanins can promote healthy aging by making your bones strong and your heart healthier(16).

Foods that You Need to Avoid

Avoiding processed foods, high-sugar foods, and high-fat foods is crucially important if you want a lean and healthy body. These foods may accelerate the damage caused to the good bacteria in your gut which could lead to obesity and other health-related problems.

Sugary Foods: Foods and snacks high in cane sugar can cause unhealthy bacteria in the gut to proliferate, which can negatively impact health. It can cause weight gain or chronic health disorders.

Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame and saccharin can reduce the number of healthy bacteria in your gut and lead to high blood sugar.

Saturated fatty foods: Saturated fat is unhealthy for the body and can cause diseases in your body. Omega-3s on the other hand, is a beneficial fat, and supports the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Gut Flora And Weight Loss

I don’t want to come off too harsh, but let’s be honest. It’s not as simple as 1, 2, 3 change diet, lose weight and fix your gut. It’s a rather complicated process happening inside your belly with billions of microbes each with a unique function. Different microbes impact your body in a different way; while feeding the beneficial ones with healthy prebiotics may have a connection to weight loss. Your own unique digestive system, fat storage potential, exercise regime and cravings can significantly impact your weight. So how can you start on the road to a stronger, healthier gut while shedding some extra weight? It starts the moment you take action!  It’s not a quick fix – it may take weeks or months.

Currently there’s no such thing as weight loss probiotic supplements. As mentioned, gut flora and weight loss only have a strong connection when following healthy eating habits. Taking care of your gut health certainly does not mean consuming numerous supplements while limiting the food you eat or by eating unhealthy foods. Boosting gut bacteria with probiotics does not imply that you’ll lose weight. It will however boost your your body’s ability to absorb  nutrients from food and in the long run might make feel fuller for longer.

Either way, the key takeaway here is the fact that there’s a big difference between probiotic/prebiotic supplements and weight loss supplements. The essential thing that can make a difference is your diet – time to change your diet. Add some colours!

Unhealthy Gut May Lead To Obesity

What you eat  is the biggest factor in determining your gut bacteria composition. The gut microbiota of obese or overweight people often display patterns of dysbiosis. Ultimately, showing that a diet rich in fat and simple sugars 8 alters the gut microbiome in a manner that contributes to too much fatty tissue in the body; i.e. obesity. Therefore, the specific microbial composition can lead to obesity. A high sugar diet also increases inflammation and remember, we mentioned that it feeds the bad bacteria. Consequently, leading to a snowball-effect. 

Antibiotics are another contributor to the possible cause of obesity. This medication disrupts the microbial system in your gut and slows down healthy bacterial growth. There’s plenty of evidence that links unwanted weight gain to antibiotics. Researchers and experts believe 9 that gut microbiota plays a key role in the association seen between antibiotics and obesity. It was previously estimated that approximately 50% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary 17 [Ref];

Research has shown that antibiotics, a drug also used for the purposes of weight gain in animals for 60 years, have been linked to obesity in adults and in children. In the study 10 102 patients were treated with vancomycin. Among the undesired effects of the antibiotic, was a 10% Body Mass Index (BMI) increase and even obesity acquisition in some patients.

According to the National Institute of Health, the gut is composed of 100 trillion bacteria. It is your second brain, and what you digest is what you become. If you want to be healthy and fit, you need to maintain a healthy gut and a healthy body weight. An unhealthy gut leads to obesity, on one hand, and causes many other diseases, on the other hand. You may consult a doctor if you wish, but researching on your own will be well worth it.

Final Thoughts

Always remember your gut health importance if you want support a healthy lifestyle. To maintain a sound gut system, you need to take care of your physical and mental health. Eating healthy, working out, and relaxing are the standard solutions to a healthy gut system. Since the human gut is more complex than ever thought, you need to show dedication if you want a healthy gut. Remember, unhealthy guts require time, devotion, and consistency.

A healthy gut will keep you lean and shield you from gaining excess weight. Since diet plays a significant role, do your research well before planning your diet. Some foods are an excellent source of healthy bacteria, while some increase harmful bacteria that deplete the good bacteria. All in all, this shows us how gut health and weight loss are connected.

References

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Charles Erasmus

Charles received his Bachelor Of Commerce at the University Of Stellenbosch. Charles is an expert in health, wellness, sustainability and living green. He has worked for well-known companies in these particular industries. Charles is an enthusiastic entrepreneur, writer, sports-fan and has the wish to spread knowledge and education about the planet, health, fitness, sustainability, green lifestyle, travelling and how to embrace a better tomorrow.

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