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Is fixing your gut the key to unlocking weight loss?

What does weight have to do with your gut health and your microbiome? The answer: EVERYTHING.


Your gut microbes have many roles within your body: hunger, digestion, stress, mood, and mental health. These systems can be positively or negatively influenced. Your microbes change over time from the foods you eat, to the toxins you inhale and digest, the supplements / drugs you take, and what you drink. In fact, it has been estimated that 60% of the variation in our microbiota is a direct result of your environment (in particular diet and antibiotics).


Recent research has found that people who don’t struggle with weight have a different composition of microbes (the good and the bad bacteria in your gut). Meaning there are specific microbes that PROTECT against weight gain and produce compounds that stimulate your body to burn fat.

Therefore, a balanced microbiome can help MAINTAIN a healthy body weight and result in reducing your weight to an equilibrium. It can also influence your metabolism and strengthen the gut lining. The same way an imbalanced microbiome, known as ‘dysbiosis’, can add on those extra unwanted kilograms.


In fact, in studies of rats it has been shown that an obese phenotype can be transmitted via the microbiota.


HOW DOES DYSBOSIS OCCUR?


Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome can result from the following factors: high-fat diet, high refined sugar diet, fizzy drinks, coffee, alcohol, drugs which we all know are bad for us! But one factor you may not know is: antibiotics.


Antibiotics has been linked to weight gain because they disrupt the good and bad bacteria in the gut, either by preventing and slowing bacterial growth, or killing them. Yet, the link between antibiotics and weight gain isn’t really a secret. Industrial agriculture has known for decades that low doses of antibiotics can encourage animals destined for meat consumption to gain weight faster. So it is very important that we be careful when we take antibiotics, make sure they are necessary and then replenish the gut during and after the course of antibiotics.


WHICH MICROBES ASSIST WITH MAINTAINING HEALTHY WEIGHT


Akkermansia


Recent research has shown that a bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila in the gut digests the mucus that covers the gut lining forcing the gut to make more and therefore, make it thicker and stronger. The benefit of this is that a thick lining guards against unwanted items, food, metabolites and toxins from entering the body and the blood system that would trigger an immune response and cause inflammation.


This bacterium also harvests energy from food, in the form of glucose. This is important because how much glucose enters the bloodstream and when is very important. When you have healthy levels, the body uses it for energy and you don’t put on weight. When there is too much and too much is released into the bloodstream then the cells store the extra energy as fat in your fat cells.


Bifidobacterial


Specific strains of Bifidobacterium have also been shown to target metabolic disorders. For example, a recent study has shown that Bifidobacterium reduces body weight gain, fat mass, plasma glucose and inflammation in mice.


Christensenella


There’s lesser-known bacterium called Christensenella that has also been detected in slim people. In mice studies though, the bacteria has been shown to reduce weight gain and therefore, could assist in weight loss as it supports a healthy microbiome.


Lactobacillus gasseri


Of all the probiotic bacteria studied to date, Lactobacillus gasseri shows some of the most promising effects on weight. Numerous studies in mice have found that it has anti-obesity effects. Also, one study that followed 210 people with significant amounts of belly fat found that taking Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks reduced body weight, fat around organs, body mass index (BMI), waist size, and hip circumference. What’s more, belly fat was reduced by 8.5%. However, when participants stopped taking the probiotic, they gained back all of the belly fat within 1 month.


WHAT HELPS PRODUCE THIS BACTERIA?


Probiotics


This is where probiotics play a critical role in your gut health, balance and weight control. There are also probiotics foods and foods with the specific bacteria listed above.


Probiotic foods


Foods that boost Akkermansia:

  • Cranberries

  • Concord grapes

  • Black tea

  • Fish oil

  • Bamboo shoots

  • Flaxseeds

  • Rhubarb extract

Lactobacillus gasseri is also found in fermented foods such as Puba or carimã (a Brazilian staple food) and you can boost your intake with:

  • Yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Miso

  • Kimchi

  • Tempeh

  • Sauerkraut

Bifidobacterial is increased by:

  • Chicory

  • Berries

  • Onions

  • Wholegrains

Plant fibers


Getting a minimum of 30g of fiber every day from plants will help diverse the gut and to clear out the gut. In particular, foods of different colours i.e. eat the rainbow. Each vegetable and fruit has different beneficial properties which are great for diversity and overall health.


A recent project by the America Gut Project, had 30 people who ate 30 plant foods of different colours per week and they have the greatest microbiota diversity.


So get out those red peppers, pumpkins, oranges, purple carrots, kale, onions and garlic.


Plant based diet


Research has also shown that following a plant-based diet reduces calorie intake, increases weight loss, lowers metabolic markers and nourishes beneficial gut bacteria. This is because plants contain lots of different prebiotic fibers.


In a recent study involving type II diabetes patients, a vegan diet was shown to be more effective at controlling blood sugar levels in comparison to the usual diabetic diet prescribed by medical practitioners. Interestingly, the beneficial bacteria that thrive on plant foods are also associated with better blood sugar control which assist with diabetes.


So plant based diet has a number of beneficial factors include diversifying your gut bacteria and leads to great weight loss.


 

Sources:

Baothman, O, A et al., 2016. The Role of Gut Microbiota in the Development of Obesity and Diabetes. Lipids in Health and Disease: 15.

Dao, M, C et al., 2015. Akkermansia muciniphila and Improved Metabolic Health During A Dietary Intervention in Obesity: Relationship with Gut Microbiome Richness and Ecology. Gut: 65, pp 426-436.

Feng, W et al., 2018. G


ut Microbiota, Short-Chain Fatty Acids, and Herbal Medicines. Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Cox, L, M and Blaser, M, J., Antibiotics in Early Life and Obesity, 2015

Hold, G, L., The Gut Microbiota, Dietary Extremes and Exercise. 2014

Lee, Y, M et al.,. Effect of a Brown Rice Vegan Diet and Conventional Diabetic Diet on Glycemic Control of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A 12-Week Randomized Clinical Trial, 2016

Cani PD, Neyrinck AM, Fava F, Knauf C, Burcelin RG, Tuohy KM, Gibson GR, Delzenne NM. Selective increases of bifidobacteria in gut microflora improve high-fat-diet-induced diabetes in mice through a mechanism associated with endotoxaemia. Diabetologia. 2007 Nov;50(11):2374-83. doi:

Ferrarese R, Ceresola ER, Preti A, Canducci F. Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics for weight loss and metabolic syndrome in the microbiome era. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2018 Nov;22(21).

Kadooka Y, Sato M, Ogawa A, Miyoshi M, Uenishi H, Ogawa H, Ikuyama K, Kagoshima M, Tsuchida T. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2013

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