Our gut microbiomes are pretty amazing. More and more research is being done to pinpoint exactly how these tiny organisms affect our health. In the past decade or so, we have learned a lot about our gut bacteria, and it’s pretty amazing. Probiotics, our gut bacteria, have 250 to 800 times more genes than we have human genes, for example. We also know that they play a significant role in how we digest food, and research points to those bacteria potentially playing a big role in weight management.
With this in mind, have you ever thought about how probiotics affect your ability to lose weight? According to the National Library of Medicine, there is an association between lower microbiota diversity and obesity, insulin resistance, and systematic inflammation. Higher diversity helps promote weight loss by helping us feel full for longer and causing our bodies to absorb more nutrients from food. This microbiome influences energy metabolism by regulating glucose metabolism, appetite, and fat storage. A healthy biome can help you lose weight or maintain your current weight, while an imbalanced gut biome can make it harder for you to lose weight or even potentially play a role in gaining weight. So, what can you do to promote a healthy gut biome?
While some research points to genetics playing a role in a healthy gut biome, that doesn’t mean you can’t fix it yourself! Diet plays the most significant role in reversing imbalance or maintaining a healthy gut. Here are a few ways you can promote more healthy bacteria:
- Eat more probiotic-rich foods! These include things like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses. These foods are rich in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two probiotics that should populate your gut.
- Keep those probiotics strong with prebiotics! These can be found in many plant-based foods. The fibers in fruits, veggies, and some nuts feed the probiotic bacteria. They need to eat just like any other living organism! So load up on foods like raw leafy greens, eggplant, asparagus, artichoke, beans, peas, onions, garlic, and whole grains!
- Eat less red meat. High-protein foods contain carnitine, but red meat has the highest levels. Carnitine may interact with gut bacteria to increase the risk of plaque in the arteries. You don’t have to cut red meat out entirely. Just make sure to pay attention to portion control and opt for fish or chicken when you can!
- Avoid highly processed foods. They often contain high amounts of sugar, fat, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives that may harm your biome. They also lack the nutrients that allow your microbiome to thrive.
- Some people also choose to take over-the-counter probiotics and prebiotics. This might not be right for everyone (and most are not FDA-approved). Talk to your doctor before starting any new medication, even OTC.
Regardless of whether you are interested in weight loss, sticking to a diet rich in fruits, veggies, and lean proteins will make you feel better! Nourish your body, and you will nourish your microbiome- it’s a win-win!