This article was first published on Consumer Health Digest
Let’s be honest. When the time comes to lose weight, we go to our trusty friend Google, the self-help section of the book store, or on Instagram for the fastest weight loss program, supplement, or diet. Increase fruits and vegetables, check. Increase exercise, check. Low carb, check. Low fat, check. Am I right?
So, if there is so much information and “best ways” to lose weight, then why is it so hard to actually shed those pounds? Maybe it is because the key to success in weight loss is missing. Maybe there is one part of your body you are likely neglecting to improve and possibly don’t even know it needs improving-- your gut. That’s right-- losing weight has more to do with your gut than starving yourself or following the latest trendy diet.
What is the microbiome?
The microbiome is an ecosystem found inside the gut, which holds trillions of microorganisms. Each person’s microbiome makeup is unique, just like your fingerprint.
Scientists have discovered a link between these bacteria and chronic illnesses, such as autism, depression, asthma, cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and even obesity. They have even gone so far as to call the gut our “second brain”. Having an imbalanced microbiome is more than just bloating or upset stomach; it is connected to your entire body and affects everything.
Inside the microbiome there are good and bad bugs, or bacteria. Every time we add harmful substances and food products into the gut, the “bad” bacteria count grows, leaving an imbalance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria. To keep a healthy balance, you need to consume more of the good bacteria and less of the bad bacteria.
How does my gut affect my weight?
Regarding obesity, these bad bugs introduce toxins called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) into the gut and cause an imbalance if you are not also consuming anti-inflammatory food products, or good bug. In fact, bad bacteria can wreak havoc on your gut and affect the following:
- Inefficient use of the energy from food
- Inflammation levels, which can cause weight gain and other health issues
- Feeling hungry or full
- Metabolism and insulin resistance
So how can we create a diverse microbiome in our gut and shred those pounds? Here are a few ways:
Tips To Having A Healthy Gut and Smaller Waist
Swap processed foods for natural foods
Seriously, cut them out! You won’t miss them. Eliminate refined sugar and flour from your diet, and increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and grains you eat throughout the day. Doing this will increase your intake of fiber, which promotes gut health.
Additionally, the type of food you put into your body is the type of bacteria you are feeding. Processed food feeds the bad bugs and fruits, veggies, and lean meat feed the good bugs.
One easy way to keep yourself accountable is only shopping around the edges of the supermarket, where the fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit are kept. Staying away from the center aisles of the supermarket will avoid any temptation you may have when you lock eyes with your favorite processed snacks. Eventually, the less you eat processed foods, the less you crave them and the more you desire to eat whole, healthy foods.
Eat healthy fats
Omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids help reduce inflammation. To incorporate this into your diet, you should consume foods like avocado, salmon, and olive oil. If you don’t prefer fish, then a fish oil supplement is an excellent alternative.
Add probiotics to your routine
You need to consume good bacteria to help balance your microbiome and offset the amount of bad bacteria in your gut. This is especially important if you are taking antibiotics, which get rid of both good and bad bacteria in the gut in order to eliminate a bacterial infection. To maximize the effect of probiotics, make sure you take them at least 2 hours before or after you take the antibiotic.
The most effective way to ensure you are getting a large amount of good bacteria, I suggest taking a probiotic supplement with a high number of bacteria present. To naturally consume probiotics in your diet, you can start by eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi.
Your bacteria benefits from exercise, just like you do. Akkermansiaceae is bacteria found in athletes, specifically a bacteria that is linked to lower obesity. So start moving by doing your favorite form of exercise, whether that is a walk with a friend, running, yoga, Crossfit, or any other activity. Just get moving! Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Enough with the hand sanitizer, already
We have good bacteria present on our skin and are killed off the second we apply hand sanitizer to our hands. When these good bugs are no longer in our body, you are more prone to illness and an imbalanced microbiome.
Get your beauty sleep
You should be getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, consistently. Several studies have shown that as little as two consecutive nights of sleep result in a drastic change in diversity in the microbiome. Even fragmented sleep throughout the night can lead to higher levels of inflammation, insulin resistance, and metabolic health problems.
To help get good, quality sleep, create a sleep routine and stick to it. Keep electronics out of the bedroom and away from your eyes, for at least 2 hours prior to bedtime. Listen to soothing music or read a book in the hour before bedtime.
Losing weight involves more than just a healthy diet and exercise. The gut also plays a large role in the weight loss process and if your gut health is subpar, you may have trouble losing those pounds. Taking care to add healthy bacteria to your diet can help restore balance to the microbiome.
This may be entirely new information for you, golden nuggets of hope in losing weight once and for all. If this seems overwhelming for you, take it one step at a time and practice one tip before moving on to the next. These simple lifestyle and dietary changes can greatly improve your gut microbiome, lower inflammation levels in the body, and finally allow you to lose the weight.
If you are interested in learning more about creating a healthy gut, download the FREE 30 Day Guide To A Healthy Gut HERE.