The Link Between Gut Health and Weight Loss: Exploring the Connection
Have you ever experimented with various approaches like Keto, hitting the gym, trying weight loss supplements, or sipping on detox drinks in hopes of shedding a few pounds? Does even the slightest change in your diet make it seem like you're far from achieving your weight goals? Perhaps you've noticed that you tend to gain more weight than you lose, and you're wondering why. The answers to all these questions lie deep within your gut.
Within your gut resides a complex ecosystem of organisms that depend on you for nourishment, while your body relies on them for crucial functions like digestion, immunity, metabolism, and more. Interestingly, your gut health also plays a significant role in your weight. In this post, we will explore the relationship between gut health and weight loss, uncovering ways to enhance your gut health to achieve more effective weight loss results.
The Gut Microbiota and Dysbiosis
More than a trillion microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) live in your gut, and their combined genomes are believed to have 100 times more genes than a human body. There are both good and bad bacteria in your gut. Your immune system does the crucial job of allowing the good ones to live while managing the bad ones.
These bacteria get their nutrition from the food that they eat. They digest the food that even your enzymes cannot digest and continue to survive in your gut. However, in return, they give you a lot. They digest non-digestible food products, protect the gut mucosal layer, bring about immunomodulation, improve nutrient absorption, and protect you from harmful pathogens.
A healthy gut has a unique composition of good and bad bacteria, and this composition needs to be maintained. Certain factors like overconsumption of antibacterial medicines, a high-sugar diet, and poor lifestyle habits can create a disbalance in the composition of the gut microbiota. This condition is called dysbiosis and is a major cause of many metabolic diseases, including diabetes and obesity.
Does this Ecosystem of Microorganisms really Affect your Weight?
Coming straight to the point — yes, it does. Since they affect your digestion, metabolism, and several other things, it is only obvious that they do have a role to play in determining your weight. Despite having a good diet and exercising every day, you might not be able to get into that dream shape because of the gut microbiota. Let us prove that right here:
The Gut Microbiome and its Power to Control your Appetite
Your hunger and satiety are determined by the signals received by your brain from the gut. If your gut says it’s time to eat, your brain will make you do it. Here, the role of the gut microbiota is to influence the production of hormones called anorexigenic and Orexigenic hormones. The former is responsible for suppressing your appetite and includes Leptin, while the latter does the opposite and includes hormones like Ghrelin.
The gut microbiota also releases immunoglobins, some of which have the ability to change the biological activities of appetite-controlling hormones like Leptin and Ghrelin, thereby controlling your appetite.
Lastly, the gut microbiota can release proteins identical to appetite-regulating peptides that can act on anorexigenic (appetite-suppressing) neurons, thus reducing your appetite.
The Gut Microbiome can cause Food Cravings
Your gut can dictate what you want to eat. These trillions of bacteria live in a community, and all of them are using your body for their survival. It is obvious that when there’s a community, there’ll be a conflict of interest. There’ll also be one population that oppresses the other and manipulates the resource chain. This is what happens in your gut as well. If your gut has a huge population of only one type of bacteria, this population will dominate. They will manipulate the decision and request food with the nutrients that they need. Your bacteria can also manipulate you into not having a certain food to sabotage the existence of their competitors.
In a nutshell, a lack of diversity in the gut bacteria causes untimely cravings for foods with high sugar and fat content.
The Gut Microbiome Leads to Positive Energy Homeostasis
Energy homeostasis is the balance of energy intake and expenditure. If you have a positive energy balance, then it means that your energy intake is greater than your expenditure. Additionally, it shows that you have surplus energy that is being stored as fat, adding more inches to your waist. The presence of gut microbiota leads to a positive energy balance.
Let’s say you had a Burrito. 80–90% of that Burrito will be digested by the digestive enzymes secreted by your stomach, small intestine, and pancreas. But the remaining 10–20 percent that your body wasn’t able to digest (mostly fiber) will be taken care of by your gut flora. It will break down the remaining burrito. When your gut flora breaks down the food, it produces different types of nutrients, adds more calories, and also converts soluble fiber into small-chain fatty acids.
The gut microbiota, apart from increasing your energy consumption, also produces metabolites that manipulate plenty of crucial procedures in your body, like appetite, metabolism, and digestion.
Gut Microbiome & Obesity
We saw how the gut flora makes you crave certain foods and how it leads to a positive energy homeostasis; both factors can eventually lead to obesity. Besides, a study stated that obese individuals have an imbalanced gut microbiota composition and a lower diversity of microorganisms.
How can you Leverage your Gut Microbiome for Weight Loss?
So far, we have observed that the gut microbiota is a delicately balanced community of bacteria that influences a plethora of actions in the host’s body. Moreover, these bacteria have a tendency to compete and fight for their survival using their hosts.
Therefore, to balance out the microorganisms, we only need to do two things -
1. Help The Good Bacteria Survive
Out of all the nutrients that you eat, fiber is the one that goes mostly undigested. Hence, the bacteria survive by digesting this fiber. You should start consuming more prebiotic fiber to help the bacteria live and multiply.
Some sources of prebiotic fiber are:
- Whole grain wheat
2. Add More Diversity
So to ensure that there is a balance among the population of bacteria in your gut, you should have different kinds of probiotic foods. The more diverse your gut microbiota is, the stronger and more beneficial it will be.
Some sources of probiotic foods are:
- Fermented soybeans
Studies have shown that different types of bacteria produce different results. For example, a study has shown that people on a diet with more Prevotella bacteria in their gut lost more weight compared to those with more Bacteroidetes. So a higher Prevotella-to-Bacteroidetes ratio can help you lose weight. Prevotella is usually present in plant-based sources, while Bacteroidetes is found in meat.
Natural Supplements for Improved Gut Health and Weight Loss
Your diet may or may not contain a good diversity of prebiotics and probiotics; hence, supporting your diet with oral supplements can further help you enhance your gut health and, in turn, lose weight. Look for supplements like digestive enzyme tablets and stomach cleansing tablets to improve digestion and overall gut health. For your gut army, you should go for supplements with a variety of probiotic strains and FOS (fructooligosaccharides) Prebiotic fiber. Having these supplements to support your diet makes it easier to be sure that your gut is getting what it needs. Besides, you can get hold of a good, natural weight loss supplement to help you burn excess fat faster.
Your gut and brain are constantly in conversation with each other via the gut-brain axis. Your gut flora can communicate what it needs at any time of the day, and accordingly, the brain will make you feel the need to eat that particular thing. These cravings are hard to beat, and your gut army is to blame. So, while you are doing your best in the gym, make sure you also take care of your gut so it can help you get in better shape.
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