You may know "calories in, calories out" as an approach to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. Are calories just calories, or do they affect the type of food? The answer is complicated, thanks to the bacteria that live in our gut.
The secret to losing weight, a strong immune system, and a better mood may be to keep the vast number of microbes living in the gut happy and healthy. That's why it is important to know how to improve your gut health.
Gut Health and Weight Loss
Have you ever heard of leaky gut syndrome? Some experts suggest this may play a role in weight gain. A leaky gut syndrome is said to result in increased permeability or leaking of the intestinal wall. It is thought to allow microbes to pass from the gut into the bloodstream, and the disorder is implicated in a number of conditions, including obesity and diabetes. Poor gut health can cause acne as well.
However, the existence and significance of the condition remain uncertain. For example, there are problems with the accuracy of the tests used to diagnose perforated bowel syndrome and limited scientific evidence to support the efficacy of therapies designed to treat the disease or the role of perforated bowel syndrome in the development of the disease.
This disorder often occurs in obese people, who generally have problems with digestion and general well-being, which makes weight loss difficult. This inflammation runs through the body and limits the function of insulin. Insulin's purpose is to generate energy by burning calories from carbohydrates, and therefore your body will start storing fat instead due to its limited functionality. Therefore, the inflammation caused by a leak in the gut does not support your good gut bacteria and weight loss efforts.
Studies show leaky gut is associated with dysbiosis, unhealthy diets, and malnutrition, which can disrupt metabolism and weight loss. Since there is no official diagnosis of leaky gut, there is no approved treatment for it. However, you can follow a strict anti-inflammatory diet or take probiotics to help balance gut bacteria.
Say Hi to Bifido!
Who is Bifido? Well, you already know him, although you might not have seen him. How is that possible? Because he lives in your gut.
In the gut, you will find 300 to 500 different species of live bacteria, which contain nearly 2 million genes. Coupled with other small organisms, such as viruses and fungi, they form a so-called microbiota or microbiome.
Every person has a unique microbiota - the mixture of bacteria in your body is different from the mixture of everyone else, just as his or her fingerprints. This is partly determined by your mother's microbiota - the environment you are exposed to at birth - and partly by your diet and lifestyle. Bifidus makes up the bulk of your gut microbiota.
Bacteria live throughout the body, but those in the gut can have the greatest impact on your well-being. They line up the entire digestive system. Most live in the intestines and colon. They affect everything, including your metabolism. Bacteria in the gut play several roles in host metabolism and overall health. They produce certain vitamins (K, folic acid, thiamine, other B vitamins, and tryptophan) and communicate with the immune system in addition to many other roles, including influencing mood and regulating weight.
Gut Flora and Weight Loss
The food we eat is broken down by our intestines into smaller pieces. Only these smallest pieces are absorbed into our blood. The rest is disposed of as waste material. In other words, not all the calories from the food we eat enter our body and increase our weight.
For example, humans cannot digest fiber, but some gut bacteria can. When digesting fiber, these gut bacteria produce a variety of chemicals that promote gut health and possibly aid weight loss. People with a high fiber intake have a lower weight, which is due to gut bacteria. Gut bacteria play an important role in digesting fiber, as per some recent studies.
A recent study found that the relationship between the two types of bacteria in the gut can determine how much weight you lose when following a certain diet. The two bacteria are Prevotella, which digests fiber and carbohydrates, and Bacteroidetes, which has more people eating more animal protein and fat.
In this study, 62 people received a diet rich in whole-fiber fibers for 26 weeks. Those who had more Prevotelly in their intestines lost 2.3 kg more body fat than those who had more Bacteroidetes in their intestines.
Gut bacteria can digest a number of antioxidants found in plants known as flavonoids, which can help in losing weight.
Eventually, your gut bacteria can affect how dietary fat is absorbed in the gut, which can affect the way in which fat is stored in the body. Gut bacteria helps digestion by making the breakdown of food easier. Some bacteria are better able to cut food into smaller pieces that are digested, adding calories to our body and thus tending to increase our weight. In theory, if our gut has more of these types of bacteria, it should be harder to lose weight.
A study in the journal Cell shows that the more recently discovered types of bacteria called Christensenellaceae in the gut are associated with being thin, while fewer bacteria are associated with obesity. How much you have is partly determined by genetics. What’s the best part? Most of us retain bacteria - it was found in 96 percent of the samples studied - and it is possible to change the levels of gut bacteria to lose weight. But how? Here is your answer.
It Can Help You to Feel Full and Hungry
Your body produces a number of hormones that influence your appetite, including leptin, ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY). Different bacteria in the gut can affect the amount of these hormones produced and whether you feel hungry or full.
Short-chain fatty acids are chemical products that are produced when certain types of gut bacteria break down fiber. One of them is known as propionate. A study of 60 overweight adults found that taking propionate for 24 weeks significantly increased PYY and GLP-1, both of which affect hunger. People taking propionate also had reduced food intake and reduced weight gain. Further studies have shown that prebiotic supplements that contain compounds fermented by gut bacteria can have a similar effect on appetite.
People who ate 16 grams of prebiotics a day for two weeks had higher levels of hydrogen in their breath. This indicates bacterial fermentation in the gut, less hunger, and higher levels of the GLP-1 and PYY hormones, which will make you feel full.
It Prevents Inflammation
Christensenellaceae play an important role in inflammation. Some species produce chemicals, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which cause inflammation when they enter the bloodstream.
When mice are given LPS, they gain the same weight and have similar increases in blood sugar, and insulin levels as mice fed a high-fat diet. Therefore, some intestinal bacteria that produce LPS and cause inflammation can contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance.
A study of 292 people found that those who were overweight had less diversity of gut bacteria and higher levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker in the blood. However, some types of gut bacteria can reduce inflammation and prevent weight gain.
Good Gut Bacteria for Weight Loss
There is evidence that microbes indirectly act on our body fat composition. Do you know which gut bacteria cause weight loss?
Two intestinal bacteria are associated with lean body weight. Akkermansia muciniphila and Christensenella minuta are good gut bacteria for weight loss because they are associated with the prevention of weight gain and often occur in thin individuals.
Akkermansia can feed on the mucus that lines your gut and supports its production, which strengthens your gut barrier (a weaker lining is found in people with obesity). Acetate, a short-chain fatty acid, is the by-product of their digestion. Acetate helps in regulating body fat stores and appetite.
You can try increasing the amount of A. muciniphila with prebiotic foods that support their activity. You probably eat some too, but increasing your intake could help Akkermansia grow in the gut and increase your protection against obesity.
Christensenella is also an emerging gut microbe associated with weight control. Like Akkermansia, it is rich in microbiomes from lean populations, and scientists think it may hold promise for the prevention of obesity, which is now considered a global health epidemic. Christensenella is associated with your genetic makeup, which means that to some extent, you have a better chance of finding this bacterium in the gut if your relatives have it too. Some people don't have them, and that's okay.
Christensenellaceae is one of those bacteria that could aid the weight loss process. You will find a different blend of microbes in the gut that can help you to maintain weight. In fact, recent research has proved that thin people have 70% more gut bacteria and therefore have a more diverse microbiota than their overweight peers.
Another finding found that people in the United States who have high obesity rates have less diverse gut microbes than people in less developed parts of the world. The correlation is strong enough that in the study of twins, we could predict whether a person is thin or obese, based only on their gut microbes.
Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia are types of beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy gut barrier and prevent the passage of inflammatory chemicals from the gut to the blood. Studies in mice have shown that Akkermansia can reduce weight gain and insulin resistance by reducing inflammation. Similarly, when mice were fed prebiotic fiber to increase bifidobacteria in the intestines, weight gain and insulin resistance decreased without affecting energy intake.
Foods to Improve Gut Bacteria
You must have been searching for the answer to the question of how to change gut bacteria to lose weight. Here are some food products that can help, as well as natural supplements for gut health. but before that, let’s see what you should avoid.
If an average person consumes a large amount of added sugar (that is, more than 22 teaspoons in a day), then this could cause our gut flora to starve and result in their death. Bacteria need complex carbohydrates such as legumes and whole grains to thrive. Therefore, when you consume too many calories, you leave your microbes hungry. They die or adapt by feeding on mucus in the gut, which experts predict could contribute to low inflammation, a condition associated with obesity. Healthy fats like omega-3 promote beneficial bacteria in the gut, while too many saturated fats can contribute to the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
You can check labels for the right information about hidden sugars in foods like pasta sauce and salad dressing. And instead of brown, go for brown rice and wholemeal pasta.
Try to eat more fiber. It's the number one thing you can do to improve your gut bacteria and hopefully help you lose weight. Research suggests that fiber feeds your microbes, making them more diverse and more likely to help you maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid the temptation to purchase processed foods that contain fiber. Instead, consume vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Focus on at least two to three servings of whole and harvested wheat and 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day.
These foods also provide prebiotics, which is basically the type of fiber that gut bacteria thrive on. Some plants, such as the sun's rays, garlic, and leek, are rich in prebiotics. Bananas and whole grains for breakfast are other good sources. Once you've cleaned up your diet, go for the excess. Add the probiotics.
If prebiotics is like fertilizers for your microbial garden, probiotics are like seeds. The best way to get them is to regularly eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and miso. And on yogurt, the probiotic rock star: A landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that of all the foods studied, yogurt was most strongly related to weight loss.
The average person gained nearly half a pound a year, but people who ate yogurt regularly actually lost weight. Choose plain Greek yogurt and mix pomegranate seeds or your favorite berries for fiber.
Here is the list of foods rainbow you need in your diet.
The Food VIBGYOR
- Violet (purple) - Blackberries, prunes, purple cabbage, purple kale – It has antioxidant properties
- Indigo – Plums, grapes, blueberries - It has antioxidant properties
- Blue – Blue corn, eggplants - It has antioxidant properties
- Green - Brussels sprouts, green tea, olives, green apples, artichokes, greens, cabbage – It improves circulation and has antioxidant properties
- Yellow - Apples, bananas, lemons, ginger, yellow onions, corn – It controls blood sugar and has antioxidant properties.
- Orange – Oranges, apricots, mangoes, carrots, turmeric, yams – It improves fertility and has antioxidant effects in fat-soluble tissues.
- Red - Apples, cherries, cranberries, red onion, tomatoes, and red cabbage – It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
There are many reasons why exercise is good for you. It's great for losing weight; even if it doesn't burn a lot of calories - burning calories doesn't make sense. But one of the many reasons exercise is beneficial is that it makes gut bacteria happy.
There isn't much research in humans - mostly only this study found that exercise is associated with increased microbial diversity in the gut, which is great, but it's a study and just proves the association. There is much more evidence from rat studies and studies in mice showing that exercise changes the composition of the gut microbiome in a way that helps rats and mice stay lean (or lose weight if they are already obese).
But the reason exercise falls on this list is this study. This was the case with the mice, but the results suggested that the benefits of exercise were very different from the benefits of dietary changes. So there is at least some evidence that exercise and diet are not interchangeable in this respect, which is a pretty good argument for both.
In addition, the bacteria that live in the gut have a circadian cycle: different species are more important in different types of days. In obesity, this cycle is attenuated. However, it turns out that with smart timing for meals, it is possible to restart the circadian gut cycle and run normally.
In this study, the researchers first took many mice and fed them junk food to make them really fat. So they tried a time-limited diet, in which mice were only allowed to eat during the natural feeding period (in mice, it was night, but in humans, it would be equivalent to eating only during the day - no midnight snacks).
The time-limited diet partially restored the normal circadian cycle of intestinal bacteria, especially those involved in metabolism. This helped reduce the body fat percentage in the time-limited mice. It's not compelling evidence of anything, but occasional hunger has many other benefits too, or at least not eating a lot of junk food at night. It may be worth considering as a supplement to your weight loss program.