The Role of Gut Bacteria in Weight Loss

July 20, 2015

The process of losing weight may sometimes feel like a battle. In our modern society, the number one enemy of weight loss (a.k.a., unhealthy food) seems to be stationed at every corner. In many American ???battle fields??? you can???t walk or drive a mile without seeing a fast food restaurant whose main mission is to put a bulls-eye directly on your taste buds. In a war zone like this, you need all of the weapons you can get to win weight loss battles and eventually the war. One such weapon may seem highly unlikely, but it may play a very strategic role in helping you keep your weight in check for good. This weapon is gut bacteria.

Bacteria? Isn???t that what makes us sick? In reality, there are over 1,000 different kinds of bacteria in the stomach, some of them bad (which usually get the lion???s share of attention) and some that are good. The good bacteria in your gut work to keep your body in balance against the bad bacteria. In addition to promoting overall good health, the good bacteria work to keep your digestive system healthy, which may have a direct impact on your ability to shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

Let???s talk about the bad bacteria first.?? These microbes, or bugs, live up to their reputation by causing cravings for unhealthy foods that trigger inflammation.?? Research has found that some bad bacteria send signals to the brain that influence our appetite and mood. This may cause feelings of anxiety until we can alleviate them by giving into the urge to indulge in sugary and fatty foods. .

The good news is, you can recruit gut bacteria to help you fight weight gain. Probiotics are a kind of good bacteria that fight off the bad bacteria in the belly. Think of these microorganisms as soldiers on the frontline, fighting off the bad bacteria that cause cravings and inflammation. The allies of probiotics in the fight over the flab are carbohydrates called prebiotics. Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics, and stimulate the growth of good bacteria.

There is strong evidence that suggests that probiotics can improve weight loss. In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, obese women who took a probiotic supplement lost twice as much weight and fat over six months, and were better at keeping it off than those who took a placebo. Researchers suggest that the probiotics may have aided appetite control, which seemed to decrease as the micro biome (gut bacteria environment) changed.

By eating the right foods, you can increase the good bacteria in your belly. Fermented foods deliver probiotics directly to the body. Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is a rich source of probiotics. Make sure the label says ???live and active cultures,??? and avoid yogurts that are loaded with sugars, which feed the bad bacteria in your belly. To help maintain a healthy level of prebiotics you can eat foods like asparagus, bananas, oatmeal, and legumes.

Filling up on fiber is another weapon in the fight to improve gut health. Research shows that high-fiber foods promote the growth of friendly bacteria. In a University of Illinois study, people who ate high fiber snacks were able to increase anti-inflammatory bacteria in their stomachs.

Unsurprisingly, fatty and sugary foods stimulate the growth of bad bacteria.?? Avoid fried foods, refined grains, and processed meats, which have been linked to inflammation.

The research on how good bacteria can be better leveraged to fight the war on obesity is continually evolving. In the meantime, think about reinforcing your probiotic and prebiotic troops to help increase your chances of victory.

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