Is Your Gut Preventing Weight Loss?
By Marcie Vaske, MS, LN
January 18, 2016
It’s been said that dieting is one of America’s favorite pastimes, and it certainly feels true seeing the statistic from the Boston Medical Center that approximately 45 million Americans set out to lose weight each year. Sound familiar? Maybe you have tried all the point counting, calorie tracking, low-fat, low-carb, high cardio “tips” and nothing has worked? Here’s a thought; your gut health could be to blame. I’m serious! New research is making a direct connection between the health of your intestinal tract and your metabolism.
When we talk about our intestinal tract we are talking about the bacteria that live there; everyone’s gut is full of bacteria. A healthy gut has more good bacteria than bad, and an unhealthy gut is dominated by bad bacteria. Now an exciting study is indicating that obese adults have fewer strains and a less diverse population of bacteria inside their gut compared to those who are lean. This is amazing news for the millions of diet-fatigued Americans.
So where’s all this bad bacteria coming from? This may surprise you (it shocks most of my clients) but the composition of our gut actually begins at birth. When we are born we get a dose of healthy bacteria setting us up from the start for good health. However, if you were born through C-section, your mother had decreased gut bacteria and/or if you were not breastfed (babies get a huge gut boost from breastmilk) your intestinal health started out at a disadvantage. Beyond the factors surrounding your birth, the typical American diet high in sugar and chemicals continually feeds the bad bacteria and compromises your intestinal health.
And another important indicator is your past antibiotic use. Really, who hasn’t been on an antibiotic? If you’re like me, past antibiotic use is easy to forget, but try to think back—did you take antibiotics for a strep throat infection or when you got your tonsils out, do your children currently have a prescription for an ear infection or perhaps you took antibiotics in your teen years for acne? Every time you’re on a round of antibiotics, whatever the reason, you can wipe out a hundred thousand bacteria. Listen to a past Dishing Up Nutrition podcast to learn even more factors that can negatively impact your gut.
Ready for the good news? You can improve your gut health!
We often recommend this two-step approach:
1. Adopt A Gut-Friendly Diet
The first step is definitely to clean up your diet and eliminate processed foods by eating the Weight & Wellness Way. We recommend a variety of animal protein, carbohydrates in the form of green leafy vegetables and fruit, along with good healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, olives or nuts to repopulate diverse bacteria. On top of that balanced diet, consider adding foods that naturally contain good bacteria, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and miso.
2. Consider a Probiotic
We suggest our clients start supplementing with bifidobacteria because that’s the most populous form of good bacteria in your intestinal tract. The influx of bifidobacteria will push the bad bacteria out, and repopulate your gut with a healthier mix. Begin with Bifido Balance capsules three times a day, one or two at a time, 10 or 15 minutes before a meal.
Not only will your weight loss efforts benefit from a balanced gut, but you’ll also experience better digestive health (less gas and bloating), better skin and sleep, less sugar cravings, reduced PMS, stronger immune system, better brain health (less brain-fog, anxiety and depression) and the list goes on and on.
As a rule of thumb, we typically see our clients’ gas and/or bloating could go away within a week or two, while skin changes take more time because they’re more systemic. To really give your body a chance to heal, we advise people to give this two-step plan a dedicated three months. Even if you have a stubborn metabolism that you assumed was irreversible, it’s not. Start repopulating the good bacteria and watch numbers on the scale slow creep down! Isn’t it amazing how something so good for our digestion is also good for our metabolism?
Finally, if you’re not seeing results or feeling better, we’d recommend you come in and see a nutritionist as there could be underlying food sensitives or factors.