You’ve probably heard of gut bacteria before. Perhaps in a yogurt commercial, promising all sorts of health benefits if you consume their products, but is there any truth to it – can you promote good gut bacteria for weight loss?
To answer that question, let’s first take a step back and discover what gut bacteria are in the first place, the role they play in your body, how to know if something is unbalanced, and what you can do about it.
In this article you’ll find:
- The answers to what gut bacteria are?
- Key signs your gut microbiota isn’t healthy
- How you can alter your gut flora for better healthy (and possibly weight loss)
What are gut bacteria?
Before we get into which gut bacteria cause weight loss, let’s take a quick jump back and discover – what is gut bacteria, anyway?
In total, the human body consists of around 40 trillion bacteria, outnumbering your body’s own cells by at least a 3:1 ratio, some even suggest 10:1. But don’t be frightened by these numbers; this is a normal, natural process, and many of those bacteria act to help your body, not to harm it.
At this very moment, there are over 1,000 different kinds of bacteria that make up your gut’s internal ecosystem, located in your gastrointestinal tract. This internal microbiota (also known as gut flora) is established within the first couple of years after birth, although recent research suggests that it starts as early as gestation, meaning what you eat during pregnancy affects your baby’s future health.
All of this combined helps the body regulate several processes from the obvious of digestion to immunity and even allergies and intolerances to certain foods and food groups.
Each person’s ecosystem is individual with a unique amount of each type of bacteria from the “good guys” such as bifidobacterial, escherichia coli, and lactobacilli, to the “bad guys” like campylobacter, enterococcus faecaus, and clostridium difficile. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a numbers free-for-all, your bacteria should be in check and in the correct place to keep you happy and healthy.
- Your body contains over 40 trillion bacteria in total
- There are over 1,000 individual types of bacteria in your gut microbiota
- Your microbiota can weigh up to 2kg of your overall body weight
- What you eat during pregnancy matters – gut microbiota is affected by the mother’s diet.
Signs your gut bacteria isn’t healthy
Hippocrates famously said, “all diseases begin in the gut,” and it seems that despite coining the phrase over 2,000 years ago, he wasn’t wrong. While your microbiota isn’t responsible for every ail, it does affect your overall health and well-being.
All diseases begin in the gut
Modern medicine has linked an unbalanced microbiota has been linked to several issues, including:
- Poor immune system
- Slow metabolism
- Obesity and weight gain
- Inflammation and inflammatory disorders
- And much more.
Research is still ongoing into precisely how your microbiota affects your overall system, and with time, we can expect to see many more issues arising, and hopefully, some solutions too.
One of the most apparent and distressing signs of poor gut health is a change to your weight that you can’t seem to control. However, there are also a number of other indicators you’ll need to pay attention to:
- Upset stomach – you might feel a need to go to the bathroom, experience constipation, generally feel sick or unwell for no apparent reason. These are signs something isn’t right.
- Feeling tired all the time – can’t sleep or sleeping too much, perhaps you’re even getting the ‘right’ amount and just don’t feel rested. If constant fatigue is eating at you, the answer could be in your gut.
- Rashes and skin irritation – itchy skin, mysterious blemishes, or even newly appearing spots could be an indicator of a disbalance in your flora.
- Food intolerances – ever eat something and then almost immediately regret it? The foods you have an intolerance or allergy to have their grounding in your microbiota.
- Poor immune system – if it’s cold and flu season and you seem to have everything that’s going, despite those daily vitamins, it might be time to recheck what you’re eating and try to boost your internal health.
How to change gut bacteria to lose weight
Now we know a little about what those bacteria can do to your system and what you might be feeling if something is awry. Let’s uncover what exactly affects your microbiota and if there is anything you can do to influence and cultivate the best bacteria for weight loss and overall health.
Like we said before, your microbiota starts forming even before you are born, this means that what your mom ate when she was pregnant, and how healthy her mouth bacteria was, has had an effect on who you are today.
But that’s not the only factor that influences your microbiota. Here are some of the other key factors:
- How you were born – vaginal birth and c-section babies display distinct sets of gut bacteria.
- Whether you were breastfed or not – while fed is best, no matter how it’s done, breastfeeding can help boost good gut bacteria and baby’s immunity.
- Your diet – what you eat and how often you eat it change the make-up of your microbiota, for better or for worse.
- The amount of exercise you get – exercise induces hormones in the body and creates chemical changes that influence your gut health.
- Diseases you may have had – some illnesses can alter the make-up of your gut’s health for a long time after you feel better.
- Medication you’ve taken – your system runs on a delicate balance, medication is designed to influence that for the better; however, sometimes you may notice knock-on effects. For example, antibiotics may target healthy and dangerous bacteria within your body.
- Where you live – whether you live in a major metropolis or a simple country home, in England, Japan or South Africa, your body’s bacteria will differ because of your location and upbringing.
Right now, it might seem set in stone as to whether you have a healthy gut or not. But that’s not the case. Although to a certain degree, your microbiota is determined by factors beyond your control, there is definitely one thing you can change – your diet and routine.
To improve your gut bacteria for weight loss and your overall health, you’ll need to start making some changes, starting today.
- Eat with care – ensure your diet is healthy. That means focusing on getting as many natural foods as you can into your system. Cut down on high-sugar, high-fat, and highly processed items, such as sweets, chips, crisps, white bread, and others, and focus on clean food. You know – fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, wholesome produce. (PS if you have any health concerns about your diet, please contact a doctor before altering your regime).
- Avoid foods you’re intolerant to – got an issue with eggs or dairy, or perhaps white bread makes you feel gassy. Or maybe even that delicious chocolate is to blame? In this case, it’s best to minimize your exposure to irritants and head to the doctor’s office, if you haven’t already for some definitive blood tests.
- Chug that H2O – Water keeps your body hydrated, but when it comes to gut health, there is one more important feature to note – the lining of your gut. Though you can’t see it, inside your body, your gut lining plays a vital role in your health and drinking an appropriate amount of water helps maintain a balance for your mucosal lining.
- Relax – There’s no shame in taking the time to recharge your mind and body. Ensuring that you have a sufficient amount of sleep and are adequately dealing with your stress levels increases the likelihood that your body’s bacteria will be healthy.
Do these four things and your body will be on the road to better microbiota health. You might even notice some weight loss too.
But, as to whether that probiotic yogurt will boost your gut health? It just might, but not on its own and not for everyone (remember those food intolerances), so don’t invest all your money into dairy, just yet, but do consider adding a healthy probiotic to your diet.