nutrition, probiotics, research, weight loss

The 4 Step Solution for a Healthy Gut + Weight Loss: Series on Probiotics

The medical community is finding that Hippocrates is still right:

“All disease begins in the gut.”

What may seem like normal for our overworked and exhausted society, which is inundated with out-of-your-control environmental and stress factors, is eroding the fundamental health of your gut.  The “gut” is a simplified term for the microbiome of both beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria alive and active within all of your body’s organs.

real food, weight loss, healthy diet, weight loss

The bacteria in your body micromanage every aspect of your life, not just health and longevity of life. There is an intricate balance between the beneficial bacteria and the pathogenic bacteria, which have a say in:

  • how you feel,
  • sleep,
  • illness prevalence,
  • what you want to eat,
  • how often you poop,
  • even how your body (delegates) nutrient use within your brain for thought patterns and memory recall.

There are specific macro and micro nutrients every body definitively requires for daily living and longevity.  Furthermore, if there is an overload of toxins coupled with lacks of nutrients, you are setting yourself up for gut troubles.

The Basics Matter

Can you live without food and water? Nope. Starvation will kill you. It will also really mess with your food intake even after you have choices offered again (you can read about that famous study here).

There’s a battle inside your digestive system for control over your food’s energy and there are so many factors that can tip the scales toward weighty problems or a healthy longevity.  Dr. Axe explains the relationship between the gut and health as:

“It’s been said by some researchers that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome. Believe it or not, your microbiome is home to trillions of microbes, diverse organisms that help govern nearly every function of the human body in some way…. Throughout our lives, we help shape our own microbiomes — plus they adapt to changes in our environment. For example, the foods you eat, how you sleep, the amount of bacteria you’re exposed to on a daily basis and the level of stress you live with all help establish the state of your microbiota.”

Over time, the majority of people in our era will suffer from these effects of malnourishment and environmental toxin build up, causing something called “leaky gut.”Related image

How You Feel Is Important

Feelings of fatigue, nausea, irritability, inability to eat certain foods, increased sickness, and a list of other “I just don’t feel well” symptoms have been related back to the root cause of an unhealthy gut.

Specifically, the gut lining becomes permeable, causing toxins and food and even nutrients to leak out of the barrier and into the bloodstream instead.  The wine skin-like sack capability of your stomach, which is meant solely to keep your food within your digestive system, succumbs to toxins and the effects of a higher ratio of disease promoting, pathogenic bacteria residing in your body. When that happens, the pathogenic bacteria dominate the control panel of your genes. Disease, anyone?

Good news! That’s why we are talking about probiotics for health (and to Reset Your Weight).  That list of out-of-your-control factors can be influenced by these beneficial buggers-and quicker than you might think.

 

Healing the gut lining and establishing a healthy gut microbiome is key to health, happiness, and weight loss.

 

In 2013, Scientific American published one of my most favorite posts: The Gut’s Microbiome Changes Rapidly with Diet.  Groundbreaking research revealed then (and continues to do so in 2017) that the gut changes within hours based on diet. HOURS, people, HOURS!

In fact, analyzing the root of the majority of outward weight problems reveals three major issues wreaking havoc inside the body: a handy acronym of H.I.M:

H= Hormonal imbalances

I= Inflammation, chronic and systemic

M= Metabolism and digestive issues

Read this post for more information HIM.

Inflammation is pretty much the number one underlying cause for weight issues, gut issues, brain fog and mental health issues, and disease. Dr. Lori Shemek, author of How To Fight FATflammation, is the “leading authority on inflammation” and one of her key ways “to beat FATflammation” is through maintaining a healthy gut:

“An unhealthy digestive tract is an inflamed digestive tract” (99).

Dr. Lori is not the only one who recognizes and educates people about the significance of a healthy gut microbiome.  Dr. Oz, Dr. Axe, Dr. Will Cole, Brenda Watson, Dr. Mary Hyman, Dr. Perlmutter, Dr. Amy Meyers, JJ Virgin, Dr. Mercola, and many more are all leading MDs who advocate for a real food approach to wellness using functional medicine and supplementation to correct microbiome issues.Related image

The Role of Real Food

What is the big link between your food choices and an inflamed digestive tract? Fiber. Fiber is key to a healthy microbiome because it feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Studies show that you should aim for 35 grams of fiber each day:

“It provides bulk in the diet, which helps promote healthy gastrointestinal function and contributes to a feeling of fullness after eating. A high fiber diet may also assist in weight management, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, and help improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes” [2].

The average person in America eat about 13-16 grams each day of fiber from good sources like beans, 100% whole grains, veggies, fruit, and nuts [3]. How many of these high fiber foods do you eat every daily in adequate quantities?

Read this post by Eating Well for ideas on how to make higher fiber swaps.

Keep in mind that if you are also consistently eating foods high in any type of sugar or flour, it is counterproductive to eating “just a little” fiber; pathogenic bacteria push, shove, overcrowd, and KILL the fiber-loving beneficial bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria do not play nice on the playground and they do not leave survivors:

“Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern…. Another recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber, they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease” [1].

Processed Foods Feed the Bad Bacteria

Pathogenic bacteria thrive and multiply like crazy when you add any form of sugar into your system; and since we know that sugar is as addictive of a substance as crack (opioid drugs), then you might want to take note of this next fact:

The average American consumes 94 grams of sugar PER DAY [4].

Let that sink in. Your comfort foods, normal daily meals and snacks, and other lifestyle habits all play a huge part in determining the diversity and strength of the bacteria within your digestive system, rate of metabolism, and your body’s communication system (which is run by hormones).Image result for infographic on american diet microbiome

Before you just throw in the towel at this seemingly unobtainable health thing because of foods you may need to eliminate or swap, I will say this: “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Did you know that probiotics can control your appetite so that you can get through some of the rough spots easier? Wait, it’s not all willpower? Nope! (I hear rejoicing.)

The Benefits of a Healthy Gut

A healthy gut produces almost 90% of your body’s hormones. Hormones control your mood and body’s communication system, blood sugar levels, and therefore the master hunger switches of insulin and ghrelin that control your cravings.  For instance, “The more bifidobacteria and other good gut flora you have, the more satiation hormones they will create in response to a meal” [6].

Unfortunately, many of us (roughly 70% of the population) have a gut system that is out of balance; the pathogenic bacteria and yeast have messed up and significantly decreased hormone production, which literally short circuits your body’s communication system. Instead, they drive your thoughts and food choices to their preferred meal: sugar, in any form.Image result for infographic on american diet microbiome

With the modern diet of processed foods and simple carbohydrates, many people have an overgrowth of yeast and fungus that drives their food choices to even more sugar. Learn more about SIBO by Dr. Will Cole.

Body Ecology explained a 2104 study published in BioEssays, which detailed how the gut and cravings are intricately linked and hijacked by pathogenic bacteria in an imbalanced gut:

“Researchers from the University of New Mexico, Arizona State University, and UC San Francisco put their heads together and concluded that gut microbes can dictate human eating behavior and choices.

“Researchers say our gut bacteria are “manipulative” and may be responsible for influencing the body to eat certain foods by releasing signaling molecules in the gut, but the relationship goes both ways.

“We can also influence our inner ecosystem by changing what we eat so that our bacteria begin to crave the right foods. Researchers saw a noticeable effect on the gut microbiome within 24 hours of a diet change.” [5]

Another health blogger tackled the subject of appetite control via probiotics and cited even more of this same study:

“Because microbiota are easily manipulatable by prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics, fecal transplants, and dietary changes, altering our microbiota offers a tractable approach to otherwise intractable problems of obesity and unhealthy eating.” [7]

In 2015, The Smithsonian Magazine discussed how one clinical study observed that within 20 minutes of feeding bacteria the nutrients they needed to grow, the bacteria then were able to produce new proteins that could inhibit appetite.  The same researcher had previously provided “evidence of a stomach bacterium, Helicobacter pylori,” that curbed appetite [8]. Sign me up for that beneficial bacteria! (Oh wait, just drink the fizzy fermented tea drink called Kombucha…)

Let’s spread the truth that, indeed, probiotics help curb appetite, balance hormones, make you happy, decrease pathogenic bacteria that promote disease, and keep your body at its optimal weight!

What’s more is that when you not only consume targeted probiotic combinations but also take the time to heal the whole “leaky gut” digestive system.

A healed, sealed, and healthy gut has these benefits:

  • sustainable weight loss,
  • more energy and better sleep,
  • improved cognition and mood,
  • decreased chronic inflammation,
  • stronger immune system and toxin removal
  • improved digestion and increased metabolic rate
  • reduced belly bloat and fat cell shrinkage
  • balanced hormones (which are, in essence, in control of your body’s communication network),
  • increased nutrient absorption (so you eat less)

4 Steps to Success

Since most people will rejoice at this amazing list of end results, let’s figure out what probiotics are supposed to do at each stage of healing a leaky gut. There is a “4 R” protocol that is widely accepted as an excellent gut rebuilding regime that uses probiotics as a key player in establishing a healthy gut microbiome:

Remove           toxins and stress

Replace            with nutrition (healing foods)

Repair              with supplements

Rebalance        with probiotics

There are probiotics that remove toxins and decrease stress. There are healing foods that are sources of prebiotics (food for probiotics) as well as probiotics.  There are probiotics that repair the gut lining, restore proper acidity/ alkalinity levels, and even repair reflux damage and the effects of inflammation.

Lastly, there is a plethora of probiotics in supplement form and in real foods to rebalance hormones and digestion, increase metabolism, add diversity, and rebalance the dominant bacterial genus groups for sustainable health and weight. Sign me up!

Image result for leaky gut infographic

Reset Your Weight {Basics}

In this series on probiotics, we first described why probiotics are important for health and weight loss, and concluded that probiotics are necessary to switch from a leaky gut to a healthy gut.

The last post in the series will give you a detailed list of strain specific beneficial bacteria for each step of the gut healing process.  There’s a downloadable PDF for you to keep as a shopping reference.

What is your biggest “leak” causing factor for which you’ll be looking for a probiotic solution?