How Your Gut Biome Can Affect Your Weight
You’ve cleaned-up your diet, cut your calories and ramped up your workouts, but the scale still hasn’t budged. We all know that managing weight can be a difficult, complex process. And experts still don’t have all the answers. But a new weight management variable has caught the attention of researchers over the last several years — gut health.
A growing body of evidence suggests there may be a connection between gut biomes and weight control. Most of the research published on this topic involves mice – though a few were conducted on people — so the quality of the studies are fairly low. Researchers still don’t have a real grasp on how gut microbiota influences weight. Here’s an overview of the current findings:
- A lack of gut biome diversity seems to be associated with obesity. One reason is that certain bacteria help stimulate brown fat, a type of fat tissue that burns calories at a higher rate.
- Researchers have linked the presence of certain metabolites in the blood stream of people with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes — two diseases associated with obesity — with four intestinal bacteria. They speculate these bacteria may impact metabolism.
- Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium linked with peptic ulcers, may help control your appetite and ultimately your weight. After a round of antibiotics to kill H. pylori and treat a peptic ulcer, patients had much higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.
- Christensenellaceae minuta, a strain of bacteria, may help control weight, as it’s more common in people with lower weight.
“We think that specific biomes can help or hinder metabolism. A wider array of biomes increases your chances of having helpful ones available,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP.
After eating a meal, your digestive system breaks down the food. But not all nutrients and calories from digested foods are absorbed; many of them are eliminated. Researchers believe that certain biomes help your body absorb calories, store them as fat and cause weight gain; others help block caloric absorption.
Researchers are just scratching the surface of gut biome research, but experts have some suggestions to help you maintain weight-management friendly gut biomes:
- Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. Variety helps promote diversity. And fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fiber, which helps good bacteria flourish.
- Try a probiotic supplement. A study published in British Journal of Nutrition found that probiotics helped women lose weight and keep it off.
- Add fermented foods to your diet. Foods such as plain yogurt, kefir and buttermilk are good sources of probiotics.
Before making any dietary changes or taking a supplement, talk to your MDVIP-affiliated physician. Looking for a primary care physician? Find an MDVIP affiliate near you and begin your partnership in health »