The Good Gut: How to Lose Weight from the Inside Out
In America, nearly 70% of the population is overweight or obese. This is an alarming statistic and most definitely eludes to the fact, weight control is not easy.
If it was easy, then surely a majority of the population of The United States, would not be having issues with their weight. But one thing is for sure, weight loss is much more complicated than burning more calories than you are consuming.
There is so much conflicting information out there as well, it is hard to know what the best diet is. High fat, Low Fat, Low Carb, High Carb, Paleo, Keto, the list goes on. Seemingly, not even the so-called experts can agree.
However, there is one topic which everybody agrees with because modern day science has only just started to undercover to dramatic impact, that it can have on not only weight loss and weight management, but overall health.
That topic is called Gut Health.
Although there are many factors that play a part in weight loss or weight management, including how much you exercise, how much you sleep, how stressed you are, your diet, just to name a few, the foundation may come from within.
Inside your gut or your digestive tract, to be more specific, live trillions of micro-organisms known as probiotics or what is called your microbiome. These micro-organisms outnumber your own body cells by 10 to 1! Pretty astonishing, right?
Your microbiome and the balance of the micro-organisms found within it directly relates to what is known as Gut Health.
What’s Gut Health?
Within the microbiome, we have a mixture of good and bad bacteria. It is so important for your health and well-being, to have a good balance between the good and the bad bacteria.
Most of the bacteria are beneficial and perform important roles such as help you digest food, regulate cravings, boost your immune system, fight infections, keep bad bacteria levels in check, help with things like sleep and can even affect your mood.
What do Probiotics Do?
Probiotics are so important for many bodily processes, as you can imagine since they outweigh our own body cells by about 10 to 1, we rely pretty heavily on them for a lot of important functions.
1) Regulate blood sugar levels
By regulating our blood sugar levels, probiotics help us to control food cravings, particularly for sugary foods that can increase your chances of gaining weight.
2) Maximize nutrient absorption
The old saying you are what you eat has recently been increasing replaced by you are what you can absorb, as more information about digestion and metabolism and specifically speaking, how probiotics play a role in nutrient absorption, becomes more widely recognized.
Our good bacteria go to work in our digestive tract to produce enzymes and short chain fatty acids which are essential for digestion and uptake of the various nutrients within the food we eat.
Without the beneficial bacteria found in our digestive tract, food would just pass through us, without us being able to absorb all of the necessary nutrients that we need for optimal health.
Studies have found that an improper microbiome, can lead to malnutrition, even with a good amount of food intake.
Without probiotics, eating a healthy diet would be pointless because all of the nutrients within the food would not be utilized. This could lead to over-eating, because our body in a malnourish state, would still be producing hunger hormones, to communicate to our brain, that we are still hungry.
3) Stress Reduction
Stress can derail the most enthusiastic attempt at weight loss and can wreak havoc on your overall health.
Stress has a direct impact on our micro-flora or microbiome, depleting the beneficial bacteria in our gut. This can lead to all of the associated problems with an out of balance microbiome, including, depression, weight gain, insomnia, more stress, malnutrition and much more.
Stress can also lead to overeating or eating for comfort. Especially eating carb-heavy comfort foods, that temporarily boost our moods.
On the other side of the spectrum, good friendly bacteria can reduce the production of cortisol, the stress hormone and increase serotonin, the happy hormone.
4) Hormone Regulation
Good friendly bacteria in our gut can assist in regulating some of the body’s hormones. Leptin is a hormone produced by our fat cells, that signals our body to stop eating food because we are full. Probiotics increase our body’s leptin sensitivity, enabling the brain to receive the signals to stop eating because you are full.
On the other side of the coin, when our microbiome is out of balance, the hormone for signaling hunger (Ghrelin) can increase in production, contributing to weight gain.
Probiotics & Weight Loss
In recent times, more and more studies are being conducted into how our microbiome impacts weight loss.
Studies have looked both at the impact that taking probiotics have on weight loss and also looked at the microbiomes of people with a healthy weight, and compared it to the microbiomes of people who were overweight or obese.
One study, looking at 2,000 adults who took a daily probiotic for at least 2 months and showed that they lost a significant amount of body weight and fat, compared to women in the study who took a placebo. Their results were even better for those who took multi-strain formulations or taking a number of different types of probiotics, compared to those taking just type.
Science is showing also, how people who are overweight tend to have a different microbiome composition that those within the healthy weight range. This further illustrates the link between gut health and weight control.
We are still a long way to go before we fully understand the microbiome and the complex role it plays in human health, but we know enough now, to understand how important it really is.
One of the simplest ways you can help your body achieve weight loss and ongoing weight management is to nurture your gut health.
Ensure to include lots of probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, and avoid things that impact your microbiome in a negative way such as antibiotics, drugs, alcohol, stress, and sugar.
Also, ensure you load up on good quality prebiotics, that is food for your friendly bacteria. Good sources include indigestible fibers from things beans, oats, bananas, onions and more.
Do not underestimate the importance that gut health, has on your weight loss or weight management journey. It is the very foundation and therefore perhaps the most important element of all.
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