Does your gut micro biome impact weight loss?

Weight loss & fat loss have become common phrases to hear given our sedentary lifestyle & adoption of high processed & western based nutrition approach. However, have you ever heard of words such as fat bacteria or skinny Microbe? No, Right! It is important to note here that it is not calories but your gut health will determine whether you are fat or thin. Are you astonished to learn this? Let us discuss this in detail

Your gut microbiome helps in regulating your metabolism, nutrient absorption & weight management. You may find people around you eating a lot & working out quite less than you do but still looks very fit. You must be perplexed with why such a difference? It is not only because of great metabolism but also due to the fact that gut bacteria & weight loss are linked inherently in a lot of ways.

Your gut bacteria helps you maintain a healthy body shape & also protect some of us from obesity. Our large intestine is a house of trillions of mutually beneficial microbes that makes up your gut microbiota. This gut bacteria forms an ecosystem involved in essential functions such as metabolism, hunger & digestion. Microbes or bacteria is a fearful word for a lot of us since they were discovered, it still holds an important place for various bodily processes including managing weight. A diverse microbiome is beneficial for your health( it is no brainer that obese people lacks diversity in their microbiome ecosystem). Different types of bacteria perform different functions in your colon which in regulating your metabolism & therefore helps in controlling & managing weight. However if your intestinal environment is not balanced, it can lead to dysbiosis. This essentially means you have a low level of beneficial bacteria, increased presence of pathogens &/or reduced diversity of microbiota. All this impacts on our body & explains why some people gain weight as compared to others.Like, body weight, gut microbiome is also impacted by your lifestyle. Right food & exercise that works for your body is important for diversity of your gut bacteria

The question arises — are there any specific gut bacteria that helps in losing weight or maintain a lean weight? Are there some bacterias that help in refining our gut lining & regulating metabolism.

Akkermansia muciniphila and Christensenella minuta are two gut bacteria that are good for weight loss since they are linked with preventing weight gains. Akkermansia feed on mucus that lines your gut , promoting its production thereby strengthening your intestinal barrier. These microbes produced acetate, a short chain fatty acids that helps in regulating fat stores & reducing appetite. You can increase the abundance of this bacteria through consumption of prebiotic foods that fuel their activities. Increased consumption of prebiotic foods such as Yoghurt, Banana, Garlic, whole grains, onions & soybeans.& improve your protection against obesity. Some of the foods that boost Akkermansia include Cranberries, Fish oil, Bamboo shots, Flax seeds & Black Tea.

Christensenella, the second important gut bacteria also helps in weight control. This is found in abundance in lean individuals & plays an important role in preventing obesity which has become a global epidemic. Existence of this bacteria depends upon your genetic make up.To be very frank there are no weight loss bacteria present in our gut. It is some of these microbiomes that indirectly impact our body fat composition.

Getting around 30 grams of fibre everyday from plants of different colours such as red pepper, orange pumpkin, bananas etc help you diversify your microbiota & maintain good health. Rainbow plant foods contain phytonutrients such as polyphenols that help the body prevent from free radical damage. Both of these-fibre & phtyonutrients help in growth of beneficial bacteria in our microbiome.

So another question ponders- does gut bacteria also impact your weight gain as some specific bacteria( described above) helps in weight loss & reducing/eliminating obesity. What we eat plays an important role not only in changing weight but gut microbes too. The gut microbiota of folks who are overweight show patterns of dysbiosis as compared to healthy individuals. The reason is this is association with inflammation & inflated blood sugar levels because of higher extraction of energy & are linked with being overweight & obese as well as consuming western diet high in sugar & saturated fats.

A plant based diet reduces calorie intake, promotes weight loss & lowers metabolic markers. It also increases the presence of beneficial bacteria since it contains a lot of prebiotic fibres.

How can you improve gut bacteria that can aid in weight loss?

Since what you eat impacts your body weight & gut microbiome, it is also important to note that lack of physical activity & exercise can reduce diversity of gut bacteria.Aerobic exercises, that gets your heart pumping like walking & jogging increases abundance of beneficial bacteria ( some of which we have described above). When you adopt this practice, it helps in improving gut carrier function which can reduce the incidence of inflammation. These microbes maintain a good gut environment that provide stability for beneficial gut bacteria, thereby reducing the risk of dysbiosis & reducing occurrence of gut microbial imbalances.Exercises also help you stabilise your metabolic biomarkers & train your muscles to consume energy, thereby regulating body fat. You should strive to include a variety of colours( plant based rainbow) in your diet to improve your microbiome diversity. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables & whole grains improves our health yet a lot of people are not eating them enough. This gap is called the phytonutrient gap. Consuming natural plant chemicals helps in improving beneficial gut bacteria.

Your gut bacteria have roles in your digestion, fat storage, hunger & other aspects which impact your weight. However, you should not assume that changing your gut or some specific bacterias can help you lose weight. This is not a quick fix solution. Your weight loss is a function of healthy food habits not through diets & supplements. There is as such no weight loss gut bacteria supplement. The best strategy is to have a diet rich in different colours in your plant based diet having a lot of fibre & phytonutrients less of sugars, red meat & artificial sweeteners. It is important to note that gut bacteria does not directly cause weight but its effect on their activities ripping through your body which can help gain or lose weight since it helps in determining how your body absorbs energy from food & how full you feel. Your gut microbiome plays a role in regulating your body weight & around 60% of variation in your gut microbiome is caused by enviornment- your diet & antibiotics( we will discuss in detail about how antibiotics impacts our microbiome diversity in our next blog). There are huge contrast in composition of gut microbiomes of obese people & those having healthy body. People suffering from obesity or type 2 diabetes have a lower abundance of butyrate producers in the gut. These diverse microbiomes break down dietary fibre into short term fatty acids & have anti-inflammatory functions. Butyrate plays an important role in preventing inflammation, maintaining a healthy gut lining & regulating our metabolism by stimulating release of our gut hormones that signals our brain that we are full. If your gut does not have rich butyrate producers in your gut, it shall tell your brain that you are hungry making you eat more & more ( including unhealthy foods) to meet your satiety levels

Your lifestyle impacts the diversity of your gut microbiome & risk to obesity & weight gain. Consuming more of plant based foods, dietary fibre & prebiotic foods can improve your gut bacterial function

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Sources: https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/9/1/21/4849000

PS: Originally published on www.thesushantkumar.com

Corporate finance professional turned Health & Fitness Entrepreneur, a fitness enthusiast, adventurer & trekking enthusiast