The importance of gut health cannot be underestimated. No matter what your health goal; fat loss, hormonal balance, immune support or increased energy and enhanced performance, all of these start with the gut. Our gut microbes actually outnumber our own human cells by 10 to 1, in other words we’re 90% gut bacteria and only 10% human so it makes sense to support, nourish and fuel the gut micro-biome. Much of what we do on a daily basis can help or hinder gut bacteria and their essential functions so it’s important to understand your gut inside out.
The Role of Gut Bacteria
We have trillions of these little microbes pottering around inside our digestive tract carrying out numerous vital functions including:
- Vitamin production
- Regulation of hormones & neurotransmitters
- Immune defence
Keeping these guys safe, nourished and thriving is really key to being a happy and healthy human being.
Have You Got The Guts For Fat Loss?
Research has suggested these tiny gut microbes may be playing a role in the current obesity crisis. Studies comparing the gut bacteria of obese and lean individuals observed significant differences in the diversity of bacteria, with leaner individuals having remarkably more varied strains of bacteria in comparison to obese people, who seem to have fewer species dominating their gut. Leaner individuals also had a wider variety of microbes called Bacteroidetes, which are essential in the process of breaking down plant starch and fibre into short chain fatty acids so they can be used as a source of energy by the body.
Furthermore, gut bacteria influences our body composition by altering the way we:
- Metabolise carbohydrates.
- Burn and store fat.
- Produce hunger and satiety hormones.
It’s even possible your gut bacteria maybe driving dietary failure by making you always hungry and never full!
Huge research projects are underway to establish the preferential blend of microbes that supports the optimal metabolism of nutrients and hormone signalling. Many researchers hope that one day they will have a clear concept of the perfect balance of bacteria and a means of cultivating it to help prevent and reverse obesity, weight gain and other inflammatory diseases.
How Can I Help?
By now you may be shouting…
“WHAT, WHAT, WHAT can we do to start cultivating a tummy full of fat burning microbes???”
The good news is there is lots you can do to improve your gut health, but it’s important to understand that you need to be on this journey for life. Interestingly, if we look back through history it seems we’ve always known the importance of gut health.
So it’s time we took these guys seriously and began to give them the food, lifestyle and respect they truly deserve. Nutrition is an essential component in the shaping of the ecosystem in the gut. Certain foods we eat can help diversify the gut community, whilst others prevent protective bacteria from colonising and flourishing.
Medications are also hugely relevant; antibiotics, oral contraceptive pills and painkillers are just a few examples of medications that may alter the balance of bacteria in the gut decreasing beneficial strains and opening up the doors for opportunistic infections. Antibiotics (especially if taken in childhood) are now associated with an increased risk of obesity and diseases of inflammation later in life. Researcher Maria Dominguez-Bello comments “Antibiotics are like a fire in the forest…[a] baby is forming a forest. If you have a fire in a forest that is new, you get extinction.”
Infections are also hugely common especially if you travel frequently or have a history of sub optimal nutrition and lifestyle choices. Parasites, yeast overgrowth and pathogenic strains of bacteria will all jump at any chance to gatecrash your gut and transform the environment often manifesting in symptoms of ill health. Having a regular assessment of your own microbiome via a comprehensive digestive stool analysis is certainly worthwhile if you have the means to do so and especially if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fungal infections, constipation or other digestive disorders.
If you want to know more about the role of the gut in fat loss and health you can join us at the Fitter Food Academy on 16 May in Leamington Spa where the awesome Emma Mihill will be taking everyone on an in-depth journey to understanding the role of gut as part of our metabolism and what we can do to ensure it’s geared up to fuel health and fat loss.