A study published in Science magazine found that mice without a protein known as toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) in their gut gain excessive weight and develop full-blown diabetes and fatty liver disease when fed a high-fat diet.
“The gut is a key player in metabolism, and this makes it even more than ever an ideal target for interventions for treating metabolic diseases and obesity,” said Dr. Francesco Rubino, a researcher and metabolic surgeon with the Catholic University of Rome, in Italy.
Gut Flora: Striking a Balance
The term gut flora refers to the delicate balance of microbes and other ‘germs,’ both good and bad, that live in the human gut (the stomach, small and large intestines and colon).
There are billions of gut flora bacterial cells in the human body, compromising over 400 different strains. In fact, the bacteria in your stomach can comprise up to 22lbs of your total body weight!
Our intestinal flora have a very large influence over the assimilation and absorption of what we eat. For e.g. there are certain types of flora that live within our gut and thrive on a high sugar diet, most notably Candida Albicans. If you get a bloat in your lower tummy after eating sugar, this is a good indication of a Candida bloom. These flora produce what are known as endotoxins. Endotoxins are poisonous substances that live within the bacteria themselves. When these bacteria die, the poisons within them flood into your body causing an immune response. If you have ever consumed sugar and felt nauseated, the endotoxins released into your system from bad gut flora are the culprit. This is just one example illustrating that if you want to lose weight and be fit and lean for life, you can’t ignore the influence wielded by the little bugs living in your gut.
Factors that Contribute to Unhealthy Gut Flora
Unfortunately, there are several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:
- Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs: Researcher Martin Blaser of New York University’s Langone Medical Center argued in the journal Nature that antibiotics’ impact on gut bacteria is permanent – and so serious in its long-term consequences that medicine should consider whether to restrict antibiotic prescribing to pregnant women and young children.
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Diets low in fermentable fibers
- Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
- Chronic stress: Chronic exposure to stress may lead to the development of a variety of gastrointestinal diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, IBD, IBS, and even food allergies.
- Chronic infections
How to Maintain and Restore a Healthy Gut Flora
The first step in maintaining a healthy gut is to avoid all inhibitors. If you’ve been exposed to some of these factors, there are steps you can take to restore your gut flora:
- Avoid all food toxins from your diet: For the purposes of weight loss and fitness one must consider that proper nutrition is essential to be lean and fit. Our intestinal flora have a very large influence over the assimilation and absorption of what we eat.
- Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
- Take a high-quality probiotic, or consider more radical methods of restoring healthy gut flora. Healthy food sources of probiotics include yoghurt, kefir, kimichi and other lacto-fermented foods.
- Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present: The two most common treatments for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) in patients with IBS are oral antibiotics and probiotics.
- Take steps to manage your stress: Taking cod liver oil and probiotics on a regular basis may make a significant difference in your overall resilience to stress. There are many ways to mitigate the impacts of stress, including meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, deep breathing and spending time in nature.]
Probiotic Foods Sources
In addition to probiotic therapy, you can reduce your weight and increase vitality by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein.