Weight Just a Minute: The Gut’s Role in Overweight and Obesity

Trillions of microbes are currently residing in your gut, living their day-to-day life, helping metabolize all of the things in your body; known as the microbiome. As intrusive as they may sound, this microbiome balance is responsible for doing many things that we can’t do on our own. The microbes help break down soluble fiber, metabolize harmful compounds produced during cooking, fight off pathogens from making themselves comfortable in your gut, mature the immune system, and produce a host of vitamins. With all of these roles, it shouldn’t take much convincing to have you believe that the balance of your gut microbiota is essential for overall health and wellness, but what does that have to do with your weight?

There are significant amounts of research being performed on gut contents in relation to one of the deadliest epidemics across America: Obesity. As individuals, we all have different bacterial and other microorganisms in varying amounts in our gastrointestinal tracts. That leads us to the next question; which ones do we need, and how many should we have?

It is conclusive in published studies that the western-style, high fat and sugar diet contributes to a gut microbiome that can encourage fat cell increases. Microbiomes from lean test subjects seemed to extract calories from food more efficiently than those of obese test subjects, which suggests a microbial role in the development of obesity.

Knowing the above information, we can target new and innovative ways to combat obesity. Though you can have a fecal transfer from someone with a clean gut microbiome, that would be expensive and is still in the trial phase. For now, we know that we can reform eating habits, which has shown to change the gut content in as little as 24 hours. Additionally, a few key players have been identified in lower weight subjects and is as follows:

  • Prebiotics: You may know these as “fiber”, but what you may not know is that prebiotic fibers found in some of the foods we eat help the bacteria in our guts to flourish and stay active. Make sure to eat your cruciferous vegetables, but for added support, adding inulin-like prebiotic fiber has been linked to significant decreases in hunger, a more full feeling after meals, and increases in molecules that help signal to your body that you have been fed to control food intake.
  • Probiotics: We try to read all of these confusing names on the back of bottles and wonder what they mean and which strains we really need in our probiotic.  Research shows that multiple strains would be more beneficial in the protection against the accumulation of fat. When shopping for probiotics in relation to weight, the following have been studied to support a lean gut microbiome:
    Þ Lactobacillus rhamnosus commonly found in fermented milk is a strain of probiotic that resulted in the aid of fat loss, fasting blood glucose, and serum insulin levels. Look for this specific strain in the probiotic you are taking.

    Þ Saccharomyces Boulardii is a probiotic yeast that was shown to support the decrease in host adipose cell development and specific inflammatory markers when taken daily. It  altered the gut microbiome by decreasing bad bacteria, and increasing good bacteria.

    Þ Lactobacillus Gasseri was studied to support the significant reduction of abdominal visceral fat in comparison to control subjects.

    These are just a handful of the many beneficial bacteria strains that could contribute to the future of America staying happy, healthy, and full of the good guys.  Speak with a nutritionist or health professional to pick the probiotic that fits you best.

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