What if we told you the secret to washboard abs was right behind those muscles, in the gut? Healthy gut flora can help you lose weight and keep it off. If your diet isn’t working it might be because it encourages bad gut bacteria instead of the good stuff.
To learn more about the link between gut bacteria and weight loss, read on!
What Are Gut Bacteria?
Your intestine is host to trillions of bacteria. These little critters play an important role in our health and immune system. Research even shows that our mood and hormones are triggered by what happens in our gut, so it’s now called the ‘second brain’.
While some of the bacteria in your gut can cause disease, the majority are involved in work that keeps you healthy. They manufacture Vitamin K. They’re a key part of your immunity from everything from bad stomach bugs to coughs and colds.
So how can we keep the good bacteria happy and the bad bacteria out? You want to create the sort of diet that good gut bacteria love. When working properly, they‘ll help digest your food, absorb vitamins, all helping you to feel full.
Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss
By digesting your food better and keeping you feeling full, they’re a key part of weight loss and weight maintenance. Some studies have shown a link between obesity and poor gut flora. This might be due to their effect on fiber processing and the part they play in the digestion of flavonoids.
It could also be because the way dietary fats get digested has to do with gut bacteria. If they aren’t active, the body stores more of the fat. Happy, well-functioning gut flora colonies will maximize the vitamin and caloric use of the food you put in your body.
They also reduce inflammation. We know inflammation increases the likelihood of weight gain. So less inflammation equals less weight gain, equals healthier you.
As if that wasn’t enough gut flora weight loss magic, gut flora affect insulin sensitivity and improve general metabolic health. What’s not to love? So let’s work out what we need to do to keep them healthy and happy so they can do the same for us.
Maintaining Healthy Gut Bacteria
There are some basics to keeping your gut bacteria healthy and happy. They all also happen to be the things you need to do to lose weight and maintain a healthy body. Two birds, one stone.
1. Steer Clear of Inflammatory Foods
If you eat inflammatory foods, your gut bacteria isn’t going to be happy about it. Inflammation, by definition, is a triggering of the immune system. The immune system detects a threat so kicks into defense-mode.
A diet with too much Omega-6 vegetable oils, sugar, or excessive calories can lead to inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, can trigger weight gain. So less Omega-6, more Omega-3 oils.
2. Limit Sugar and Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners like saccharin reduce the good bacteria in the gut and can contribute to high blood sugar. Limit sugary foods as much as possible as they can also encourage the growth of bad gut bacteria.
3. Sleep Well
Several studies have shown a link between gut flora and sleep. The better the participants slept, the better and more diverse gut flora they had. Shift workers were in bad shape for gut flora, believed to be because of the consistently interrupted sleep patterns
4. Eat Lots of Vegetables and Healthy Fats
Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and polyphenol-rich foods like dark chocolate and red wine. Use oils rich in Omega-3 fats, like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil. These fats lower cholesterol, help you feel full longer, and aren’t inflammatory.
5. Consider Intermittent Fasting
Studies show many benefits to intermittent fasting, one of which is improved gut health. You can either eat normally for 5 days, restricting calories on the other two days. That’s called 5:2 dieting.
Or, you could try the 16:8 model where you fast for 16 hours a day, restricting all eating to the remaining 8-hour window. Have your last meal by 8 pm, and don’t eat lunch until 12 pm, for example.
6. Eat Fermented Foods
For an exceptionally healthy gut, regularly add fermented foods and take probiotics. For fermented foods, shop for sugar-free natural yogurt, kefir milk, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Better yet, get in the habit of making them at home!
For kefir milk, you can search online for ‘kefir grains’ exchange groups. Kefir grains are the little critters that ferment milk into kefir. You’ll need a glass jar and fresh milk to put them in, and a cotton cloth to cover them with.
Depending on how warm your climate is, every one or two days you drain them with a plastic sieve. Drink the kefir milk the bulgars have fermented, and replenish them with fresh milk. You’ll have your own mini kefir farm, which will save you lots of cash at the organic store!
7. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Exercise correlates with healthy digestion and microbial diversity in the gut. Changing your diet is important, but adding regular exercise is truly the kicker for a healthy gut. You already knew it was going to help you burn fat – now you have even more motivation to exercise for weight loss!
8. Stress Less
Stress negatively affects the amount and diversity of your gut flora. It’s a fast-paced world these days, and many of us are ‘over-subscribed’. Excessive stress can cause you to drink more alcohol or overeat – both of which are no-nos for gut flora.
To reduce stress, do some physical exercise and sleep more regular (and longer) hours. You also want to work on improving the amount of positive ‘self-talk’. What you think shapes your body’s physical stress response.
Best of all, schedule some time in your diary every week that is family, or ‘do nothing’ time. Be uncompromising about it. It’s crucial you carve out regular downtime to lower your stress and make time for the people who are most important to you.
Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss: Get to It!
Your intestine is brimming with gut-bacteria. If you treat these trillion or so microscopic pets right, they’ll heap you healthier. They’ll boost your immunity, and can even help you lose weight.
We hope our guide on healthy gut bacteria and weight loss was helpful. If you’d like more informative health articles on gut and liver health, check out our blog today!