How an out of balance gut microbiome leads to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
Your gut affects everything from brain health to heart disease and cancer. It also can make a big difference in weight loss, weight gain and maintenance. Here are just a few ways that an out of balance gut microbiome can affect your weight.
- Decreased metabolism – 10-15% of your daily calories are used digesting your food. When your gut is out of balance (dysbiosis), you actually burn less calories because you are not completely digesting your food.
- Increased hunger – Recent studies are showing that our gut tells our brain whether we should eat more food or stop eating. It also may be responsible for letting our brain know that we are full. In effect, our gut microbiome may be what is keeping us from losing weight and keeping it off.
- Increased Inflammation – With weight gain comes inflammation. Increased inflammation increases insulin resistance which decreases your ability to lose weight. Improving your gut microbiome will decrease both inflammation and insulin restistance making it easier to lose weight.
- Decreased butyrate – Butyrate is a molecule produced by a healthy gut microbiome. Butyrate reduces risk of being overweight in many ways including increasing fat oxidation and decreasing inflammation.
What foods create a healthy gut microbiome?
Fermented foods are only part of the the healthy gut story. What you eat and don’t eat are super important, but so is exercise, sleep and avoiding antibiotics if possible. A diet high in ultra processed foods and low in fiber will wreak havoc on your gut while eating a diverse plant based diet such as the Mediterranean diet will help your gut to heal. It will also make it easier to lose weight naturally.
- Eat Fermented foods
- Stop eating ultra-processed foods
- Eat a diversity of fruits and vegetables (Up to 30 per week)
- Eat a high fiber diet – Beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grains
- Eat a diet low in animal fats and protein
- Eat a plant-based Mediterranean Diet
- Eat prebiotic foods
- Eat probiotics and possibly take a probiotic supplement
Other ways to keep your gut healthy
- Get enough sleep
- Stop smoking
- Do something to help your stress levels
- Avoid taking antibiotics when possible
What are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are “defined as foods or beverages produced through controlled microbial growth, and the conversion of food components through enzymatic action.” Fermented foods are usually created in a controlled environment over a period of time (days to weeks to months or even years). While you can purchase fermented foods at many stores, you can also make your own probiotic rich fermented foods at home, thereby saving a significant amount of money.
Why are Fermented Foods Good For You?
In other words, they are foods or beverages that have been transformed into high probiotic foods that are also rich in antioxidants. Fermented foods also decrease the FODMAP of foods which is beneficial for those on a FODMAP diet and they have specific benefits for diabetics as well.
Who Should Not Eat Fermented Foods.
While fermented foods are generally very good for most people, there are some that can have negative effects from eating them. Because they can have a minimally increased risk of food safety issues, they are contraindicated for anyone who is pregnant, immunocompromised or under 1 year of age. You will need to use your own judgment on this and decide what works and doesn’t. For example, I don’t know many women who don’t eat yogurt when pregnant, but maybe you should stay away from someone else’s homemade kimchi. Fermented products can also create histamines if this is a problem for you. The jury is still out about taking fermented foods while taking antibiotics. The most common side effect from eating probiotic foods is bloating and gas. This can often be your gut getting used to the new organisms you are giving it. Usually, this will pass (no pun intended) over time.