What does the bacteria in your gut have to do with your waistline?
A lot more than you might think!
Multiple studies have shown that obese people have different intestinal bacteria than slim people, and regardless of weight most people do not have the optimal balance of good and bad bacteria in their intestines. This imbalance can wreak havoc on your health in many ways, and yes, it may even contribute to overweight and/or difficulty in shedding excess weight.
In the latest study, obese people were able to reduce their abdominal fat by nearly 5 percent, and their subcutaneous fat by over 3 percent, just be drinking a probiotic-rich fermented milk beverage for 12 weeks.
Given that the control group experienced no significant fat reductions at all during the study period, this is one more gold star for probiotics.
Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria – more than 10 TIMES the number of cells you have in your entire body. Ideally, the ratio between the bacteria in your gut is 85 percent “good” and 15 percent “bad.”
Ensuring that you’re getting a regular supply of good bacteria in your digestive system is so important because an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located there. So supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your number one defence system against ALL disease.
A healthy ratio of good to bad gut bacteria is also essential for:
- Proper development and function of your immune system
- Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease
- Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
The probiotics in your gut also play a role in helping numerous bodily functions, such as:
- Digesting and absorbing certain carbohydrates
- Producing vitamins, absorbing minerals and eliminating toxins
- Keeping bad bacteria under control
- Preventing allergies
If you have an excess of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, it can manifest in many ways, such as gas and bloating, fatigue, sugar cravings, nausea, headaches, constipation or diarrhea. You may also find that, despite a healthy diet and exercise, you have difficulty shedding weight.
Healthy Gut Bacteria Can Help You Lose Weight
Certain bacteria may cause low-grade inflammation in your body, contributing to obesity and difficulty in losing weight.
One such study found that the bifidobacteria counts taken from infants at the age of 6 months and 12 months were twice as high in healthy weight children as in those who became overweight, while S. Aureus levels were lower. (Interestingly, this finding may explain why breast-fed babies are at a lower risk of obesity, as bifidobacteria flourish in the guts of breast-fed babies.)
Two other studies found that obese people had about 20 percent more of a family of bacteria known as firmicutes, and almost 90 percent less of a bacteria called bacteroidetes than lean people.
Firmicutes help your body to extract calories from complex sugars and deposit those calories in fat.
When these microbes were transplanted into normal-weight mice, those mice started to gain twice as much fat. So this is one explanation for how the microflora in your gut may play a key role in weight management.
Probiotics have also been found to benefit metabolic syndrome, which often goes hand-in-hand with obesity. This makes sense since both are caused by a diet high in sugars and unhealthy fats, which leads to insulin resistance, fuels the growth of unhealthy bacteria, and packs on excess weight.
Interestingly, probiotics even appear beneficial in helping women lose weight after childbirth when taken from the first trimester through breastfeeding.
As gut bacteria are very sensitive to antibiotics, cortisone and most chronic medication, it is necessary to take your medication in consideration if you struggle with weight loss.