You probably spend a lot more time thinking about the outside of your gut than the inside, but what’s happening inside has a lot to do with how things look on the outside. Gut bacteria is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. The advantages of having healthy gut bacteria are numerous, and weight loss is one! If you’re trying to lose weight, start by looking at the gut.
Gut Bacteria and Weight
Every person has trillions of bacteria living in their body, and most of these reside in the large intestine. Although they all go by the same name, there are hundreds of different types—some good and some bad. The good ones work to keep you healthy and your body functioning properly. “Good” bacteria help with digestion by producing vitamins and absorbing nutrients.
Gut bacteria produce vitamins, including vitamin K and three B vitamins—biotin, folate, and B12. These vitamins help with energy production and metabolism. Gut bacteria also produce hormones that are responsible for making you feel full. Research shows that higher amounts of propionate, a chemical produced by bacteria breaking down fiber, produces important hormones that make a person less hungry and more full feeling. People with more of these hormones in their system generally experience less weight gain than people without.
Gut bacteria assists the body in breaking down certain foods, making the body able to absorb their nutrients. One example is fiber. You likely have heard that a high-fiber diet is important in weight management, but the body is unable to break down fiber on its own. Gut bacteria are what enables a person to digest fiber and gain the benefits from it. Likewise, gut bacteria help the body absorb antioxidants which help prevent weight gain.
Increasing Good Bacteria
The great part about gut bacteria is that you aren’t stuck with what you have. You can increase good bacteria largely through the foods you eat. Knowing which foods to add and which to avoid will help you manage your weight as well as contribute to your overall health.
Foods that are high in fiber help grow good bacteria as well as add diversity to the types of bacteria. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the best sources of fiber, specifically raspberries, broccoli, beans, chickpeas, and artichokes. Fermented foods are helpful to gut health because they promote the growth of good bacteria and help to rid the body of disease-causing bacteria. Some examples of fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. Note that if you make your own kombucha, be careful to follow the proper procedures to avoid contamination, which can lead to serious health concerns.
Polyphenols and probiotics help increase gut bacteria and promote weight loss. Polyphenols are found in foods like dark chocolate, green tea, grape skins, onions, and blueberries. Polyphenols are also associated with reduced inflammation in the body and helpful for preventing heart disease. Probiotics mainly assist in immune function by restoring good bacteria after an illness. The presence of probiotics in the gut may also shorten the length of illness.
Some people benefit from supplements containing certain vitamins and chemicals that produce gut bacteria. However, never begin a supplement routine without first consulting your doctor. There are possible side effects and interactions with certain drugs that may be of concern.
Gastroenterology and Weight Loss
Regardless of your dietary efforts to promote good bacteria and achieve healthy weight, some people need a boost to get started or to supplement a weight-loss plan. NEW You can provide a gastroenterological perspective to weight loss through unique understanding of how food is digested, what is happening in the digestive tract, and how adjustments to the body can aid weight loss.
NEW You also offers various procedures to jump start a weight loss plan or push you beyond a plateau. ORBERA® is a balloon that is inserted into the stomach during mild sedation and inflated to take up room in the stomach. This procedure is painless and takes only ten to fifteen minutes to complete. The AspireAssist is a tube that is inserted to allow you to remove calories from the body before they are absorbed. This option is primarily for obese adults and is safe for long-term use. Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty reduces the size of the stomach by 70%-90% without the need for surgery. It is done endoscopically and without abdominal incisions. Bariatric revision is a procedure designed for people who have had a gastric bypass surgery and regained the weight. The process involves endoscopically suturing the hole left by the bypass back to the size it was after surgery.
All of these procedures offer ongoing support by a qualified team to turn what could be viewed as a “quick fix” into an overall lifestyle change. If you have questions about how your digestive tract may be hindering your weight loss goals, or if you want more information about a weight loss procedure, request a consultation today. Together we can make your gut healthy—inside and out!