When one attempts to shed a few pounds they typically think that watching what they eat and putting in a few hours a week at the gym can do the trick. But what if we told you that your gut health was just as (if not more) important. According to recent research, it turns out that the community of bacteria in your gut could actually be slowing down your metabolism and causing you to gain weight. So, if you’ve been trying everything under the sun to lean-up but just can’t seem to see any results, read on to see if your microbiota is the culprit.
What are gut bacteria?
Did you know that your body carries more bacterial cells than human cells? Shocker, we know. Our bodies are made up of trillions of bacteria and microorganisms. For the most part, these bacteria live in your intestines and carry out essential tasks (such as producing vitamins for your body to ward off illnesses) to keep you healthy. But, they also affect what nutrients you absorb and how your body digests food and creates energy, which can in turn influence your weight.
How do they affect your digestion?
According to research (and sources in this article), “many researchers believe that your gut microbiota plays a role in processing food and helping to determine how many calories and nutrients your body absorbs. Certain intestinal microbes may also alter your sensitivity to insulin—the hormone that moves sugar out of your blood—so that your body burns fat it would have otherwise stored. Interestingly, it only takes a few days of eating high-fat foods to disturb the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, which throws off an important process of breaking down undigested macros.” The good news is that, while a lot of this is genetics, it is totally possible (and fairly easy) to alter your levels of gut bacteria by simply eating the right foods, taking supplements, or seeing a nutritionist to get a better look at your gut health and how its influencing your digestion.
How to keep your gut bacteria healthy
Luckily, there are a number of foods that are good for your gut bacteria, and most of them are already in your pantry. The trick is making sure to incorporate them into your daily diet as much as possible. Whole grains and any fruit or veggie that is high in fiber is great for your gut bacteria, is easily digestible, and is known to aid in weight loss, so definitely load up on that. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut, and kombucha contain healthy bacteria and can assist in fighting off disease-containing bacteria in the intestines. And of course, prebiotics and probiotics are essential in maintaining and nourishing healthy bacteria.
What else can you do?
If you’ve already incorporated most of these foods into your daily diet, and you’ve been staying away from refined sugars, carbohydrates, and processed foods (congrats, you’re more than halfway there!), but are still not feeling or seeing any positive changes, we recommend booking a visit with a nutritionist. Our bodies are way more complex that one can possibly even imagine, and there’s a chance that there might be something else (re: parasites or worms, eek!) that could be affecting your lovely little microbial garden.