Your intestines contain millions of bacteria, and these gut bacteria are critical to your overall health. They aid in regulating your metabolism, communicate with your immune system, produce vitamins, and help rid your body of waste.
Gut bacteria line the intestines, so they come in direct contact with the food you eat, which results in affecting what nutrients are absorbed. While our bodies are not equipped to digest fiber, certain gut bacteria can produce many chemicals that benefit your gut health.
Your gut health relates to these bacteria and how different foods are digested, producing chemicals that help make you feel full. As a result, your weight is also affected, meaning healthy gut bacteria can promote weight loss. Your microbiome helps influence weight loss, and keeping your gut healthy is a key contributor.
So, how are the two, gut health and losing weight, related? Here’s what you need to know how gut health influences weight loss.
What is the Microbiome?
The microbiome is the bacteria and microorganisms inside your body, primarily located within the digestive system. They carry out essential functions, and while some viruses and pathogens are harmful, many of them are not.
The microbiome is responsible for producing hormones, providing nutrients to cells, and preventing harmful viruses and bacteria into the body. Unfortunately, when the harmful bacteria in your gut are more than the healthy bacteria, the result means that your body doesn’t function the best, and in some cases, you end up ill. Illnesses that include diabetes, cancer, and obesity are linked to an unhealthy gut microbiome.
How Does Your Gut Health Impact Your Weight?
Bacteria in your gut help influence just how the body absorbs nutrients and stores energy from foods. When you are not getting all of the proper nutrients or energy you need from your food, you tend to suffer from cravings and then overeat or eat unhealthily to compensate for that lack of nutrition.
People who have fewer types of healthy bacteria found in their gut are more likely to be obese. Your microbiome is responsible for how calories are absorbed and stored, so finding that balance of proper nutrition between fats and proteins is helpful to increase your healthy bacteria.
If you are concerned about the type of bacteria living in your gut, you can speak to your doctor about it. There are options to help and a difference between integrative and functional medicine for your gut health can provide patients with a preventative approach to helping you to keep harmful bacteria from rising, losing weight, and maintaining your overall health.
Next, let’s break down the primary hormones that regulate hunger, known as ghrelin and leptin. Lower leptin levels in the body lead you to gain weight, and ghrelin is the hormone known for stimulating your appetite. The microbiome bacteria help regulate just how much of these hormones are produced, which attribute to your feelings of hunger or fullness.
For example, if you suffer from chronic inflammation, you do not balance these hormones within your body. In addition, you most likely are engaging in an unhealthy diet, causing elevated chemicals in your tissues and bloodstream, and causing weight gain.
The bacteria in your gut will regulate inflammation. If you notice that you experience problems with inflammation after eating certain foods, you may want to engage in a food allergy or food tolerance test to help determine your diet.
Healthy Gut = Weight Loss
Keeping your microbiome healthy is essential for helping you to maintain a healthy weight. Some things that you can start incorporating within your gut health each day include:
- Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods - Fiber-rich vegetables are prebiotic and help give your body fiber that provides your gut with healthy bacteria. Some such foods include onions, garlic, yogurt, and sauerkraut. In addition, probiotic supplements can be added to your daily regime if you are not feeling well or on any antibiotics.
- More Whole Foods - Think about how you eat daily. Ask yourself - how much of these foods are natural and organic? Do they come from the ground or a tree? Avoid processed foods or other foods that harm the microbiome and add harmful bacteria to your gut, including artificial sweaters and unhealthy fats. Instead, focus your diet on incorporating more whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables - these changes will go a long way to providing your gut with more healthy bacteria.
- Detox or Cleanse - you may have toxins and excess waste in your gut and intestines. Consider flushing out those harmful bacteria by doing a fiber-based cleanse, a juice detox, or simply going full plant-based or raw for a few days to give your gut new life and clear out that waste.
- Exercise Regularly - If you exercise, that helps support the health of your gut bacteria and will help you lose weight. Combining a healthy diet and exercise is the best and most effective way to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
How To Keep Your Gut Health in Check
If you want to improve the health of your microbiome and give your body more healthy bacteria, start with your gut health. Consult with a doctor to see a healthy weight for your age and height. Next, evaluate your lifestyle and see where you can make changes to incorporate better foods for your diet and exercise. Start with your gut and watch the weight fall off - you will feel better both inside and out!
Written by Nicole McCray.