Weight Watchers Get Healthy Freestyle Journey Week 23
How Gut Bacteria Influences Your Weight
It’s MONDAY and time to continue our journey into health and wellness. Thank you, for joining me as I reflect on the past week and explore the new! Like me, many people have trouble losing weight. For us, it comes off slowly or not at all. We often find ourselves blaming our lack of willpower, poor genes, age, or any number of other excuses in an effort to explain and accept why. One cause that I hadn’t considered until reflecting on a recent visit to the doctor was the health of my guts. You see, he stated that there are very few supplements that he recommends his patients take. And probiotics and fish oil are two of them. So I set out to discover if there was a correlation between gut health and weight loss.
Keep reading to see how gut bacteria affects your weight and learn what foods promote healthy gut bacteria growth. Also, if you’ve missed any of the posts in the recent weeks be sure to check them out. Last week, we talked about the importance of hydration. We’ve also uncovered where sugar is hiding in your food (aka sugar bombs) and looking at the benefits of shopping at farmer’s markets, in addition to learning the importance of milestones, how to stay motivated, the smart use of free foods, some tactics for dining out, surviving the holidays while dieting, the benefits of a 5% weight loss, diabetes, the importance of exercise, starting an exercise routine, beginner exercises, and exercising in the summer heat. Since beginning my weight loss journey in January, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and the fourth of July have come and gone.
How Gut Bacteria Influences Your Weight
Did you know that your body contains trillions of bacteria? It does and the majority of these bacteria are located in your intestines. So it’s no surprise that gut bacteria plays several important roles in your health. I00
They Affect How Your Food Is Digested
Since your gut bacteria line your intestines, they come into contact with the food you eat. This may affect what nutrients you absorb and how energy is stored in your body.
Humans can’t digest fiber but certain gut bacteria can. By digesting fiber, these gut bacteria produce a number of chemicals that benefit gut health and possibly promote weight loss. A number of studies have shown that people with a high fiber diet have a lower weight and a recent study found that the ratio of two types of bacteria in your intestines may determine how much weight you lose when given a particular diet. These two bacteria are Prevotella, which digests fiber and carbohydrates, and Bacteroidetes, which people who eat more animal protein and fat have more of.
Also, gut bacteria digest certain antioxidants known as flavonoids that are found in plants. Which may help prevent weight gain. Finally, your gut bacteria can influence how dietary fats are absorbed in the intestines, which may affect how fat is stored in the body.
Your gut bacteria play an important role in inflammation.
Inflammation not only occurs when your body activates your immune system to fight infection. It can also be caused by an unhealthy diet. A diet containing too much fat, sugar or calories can lead to elevated inflammatory chemicals in the bloodstream and fat tissue, which may contribute to weight gain. Some species of bacteria produce chemicals like lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which cause inflammation when they pass into the bloodstream. In fact a National Center for Biotechnology Information publication, Metabolic endotoxemia initiates obesity and insulin resistance, states that when mice are given LPS, they gain as much weight and have similar increases in blood sugar and insulin as mice fed a high-fat diet. Therefore, certain gut bacteria that produce LPS and cause inflammation may contribute to weight gain and even insulin resistance.
However, Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia are beneficial species of bacteria that help prevent inflammatory chemicals from passing from the gut into the bloodstream. Increasing these species of intestinal bacteria may reduce inflammation and prevent weight gain. They can be grown outside the body and then taken by mouth as medicine. Bifidobacteria belong to a group of bacteria called lactic acid bacteria. You can get these Lactic acid bacteria by eating fermented foods like live-cultured yogurt and cheese. In addition to taking a probiotic, Akkermansia can also be increased by consuming polyphenol-rich foods, such as pomegranate, grape polyphenols like grape seed extract, and cranberries.
Chemicals That Help You Feel Full
Your body produces hormones that affect your appetite, including leptin, ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY). Some studies have shown that different bacteria in the gut can affect how much of these hormones are produced and whether you feel hungry or full.
Short-chain fatty acids are chemicals that are produced when certain species of gut bacteria break down fiber. One of these is known as propionate. In one study it was found that taking propionate for 24 weeks significantly increased levels of the hormones PYY and GLP-1, both of which influence hunger. Other studies have shown that prebiotics supplements, which contain compounds that are fermented by gut bacteria, can have a similar effect on appetite.
Additionally, a study by the Louvain Drug Research Institute found that people who took 16 grams of prebiotics per day for two weeks had higher levels of hydrogen in their breath. This increase indicates gut bacterial fermentation, resulting in less hunger and higher levels of the hormones GLP-1 and PYY, which make you feel full.
Top 10 Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet
- Live Cultured Yogurt. Look for brands made from goat’s milk which are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, and bulgaricus. They can also be infused with extra forms of probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus.
- Kefir. This fermented dairy product is similar to yogurt and is a combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains.
- Dark Chocolate. While chocolate itself doesn’t contain probiotics, it has been found to be a very effective carrier for probiotics. Yes, one more reason to eat chocolate!!!
- Microalgae. While not a probiotic itself, microalgae can act as a prebiotic. This means that it feeds and nourishes the probiotics already in your gut.
- Pickles. Most vegetables can be pickled and they are packed with prime probiotics.
- Cultured Vegetables: Sauerkraut and Kimchi. Made from fermented cabbage, and sometimes other vegetables, sauerkraut is extremely rich in healthy live cultures. If you can handle the spice of an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet.
- Miso. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, miso is full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria. Add a tablespoon of miso to hot water for a quick, probiotic-rich soup.
- Tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soybeans. It is a great substitute for meat or tofu.
- Raw Cheese. Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, and A2 cow’s soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics. Make sure that you buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses to receive any probiotics.
- Kombucha Tea. This fermented tea contains high amounts of healthy gut bacteria. For centuries, this probiotic drink has been used to help increase energy and enhance well-being.
On the other hand, eating some foods in excess may harm your gut bacteria. These are:
- Sugary foods. A diet high in sugar can stimulate the growth of certain unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
- Artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin reduce beneficial bacteria in the intestines and may contribute to high blood sugar.
- Unhealthy fats. While eating healthy fats such as omega-3s helps support beneficial bacteria in the intestines, eating too many saturated fats may contribute to the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
- Fried and Processed Foods. Like sugar, they break down into components that feed the less hospitable bacteria in your gut
- Gluten. Even if you’re not gluten-sensitive, eating gluten can have significant, long-term effects on your gut bacteria. Gluten is a type of protein that’s found in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley.
- Red Meat. While having the occasional steak isn’t likely to throw your whole system off, eating a diet that’s meat-heavy can be tough on your body. Research has shown that eating a lot of red meat affects your gut bacteria fast. Also, chances are that it’s got some antibiotics in it since 80% of antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to livestock!
Don’t worry that if you can’t avoid all of these things all the time. You’re not doomed to poor gut health. Do what you can to live a gut-healthy life by eating from the top ten list and giving your microbiome the support it needs to thrive by taking an effective probiotic to repopulate your beneficial gut bacteria. While we are just beginning to understand the role of gut bacteria in obesity and the science hasn’t led to treatments that will make it easier to lose weight, I believe that day is coming.
If our gut has more bad bacteria, it can be harder to lose weight.
When we eat food, our gut breaks it down into small pieces. Only the smallest pieces get absorbed into our blood. The rest is eliminated as waste material. In other words, not all of the calories in the food we eat get into our body and increase our weight. Some bacteria are better able to chop food into those smallest pieces that get digested, add calories to our body and thereby tend to increase our weight.
Believe in yourself, listen to your gut, and do what you love. -Dylan Lauren
How my freestyle weight loss week went:
This week was spent drinking water and eating foods with high water content, and drinking more water. In addition to spending some time working on our blog and tending the garden, I spent several days helping my aunt with her place. Marcus got into the pickles I made last Monday. He couldn’t wait the two weeks they needed to “mature.” Even with all the physical work at my aunt’s place, I continued to do my new exercise routine. With a busy week before I knew it it was time to step on the scale once again. This week even with all that water I drank, I lost two pounds. Hopefully, with continued hydration, I’ll keep seeing negative numbers. Until next week… Remember to stay positive and keep looking forward.
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I am not a medical professional. The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.