As a health and fitness coach I have many clients who come to me because they want to lose weight, but often what the main problem is, is that they have a gut health problem. Limited diets with lack of variety, and not enough fiber is doing more harm than they realise.
Gut bacteria play several important roles in your health, communicating with your immune system and producing certain vitamins. Your gut bacteria can also affect how different foods are digested and produce chemicals that help make you feel full. As a result, they can affect your weight.
- Studies have shown that if the gut bacteria from obese people are put into mice, the mice gain weight. This suggests that gut bacteria could affect weight
- Another study examined the gut bacteria in 77 pairs of twins, one of whom was obese and one of whom was not. Coming back to the gut diversity we spoke about yesterday, the non-obese twin had a much larger range of gut bacteria than their obese twin who had fewer types of bacteria in their gut.
- A recent study found that the ratio of two types of bacteria in your intestines may determine how much weight you lose when given a particular diet. Meaning the same diet can affect people differently depending on the bacteria already in their gut.
Humans can’t digest fiber but certain gut bacteria can.
The bacteria in our gut digest the fiber, turning it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. The more fiber you eat, generally the lower the body weight which is most probably due to the role that gut bacteria play in digesting it.
Your gut bacteria can also influence how dietary fats are absorbed in the intestines, which may affect how fat is stored in the body. It is thought that certain probiotics may inhibit the absorption of dietary fat, increasing the amount of fat excreted with feces, meaning you absorb fewer calories from the foods you eat.
Feeling full also comes from Gut bacteria. Your body produces a number of different hormones that affect your appetite, including leptin and ghrelin. Many people assume that it is because our stomach or intestines are stretched,” says Martin Blaser, director of NYU’s Human Microbiome Program and author of Missing Microbes. “We never thought that the bacteria we were carrying could be part of that signal, but this new work provides evidence that that is what is occurring.”
Many studies suggest that our gut produces hormones that tell our brain to either eat more or stop eating. Can gut microbes generate cravings? Can they make you feel unsatisfied until you eat the food they need for their own survival?
At the end of the day, gut health is extremely important for many aspects of our physical and mental health, not just weight gain, emphasising the importance of getting enough pre and probiotics via fermented and whole foods.
For more information, check out our 21 days to gut health program here.