When you look around society today, you realize that obesity has become a major epidemic.
As a result, we have developed numerous things to address this phenomena with more diet pills, weight loss programs, different ways to workout, intestinal surgeries, and the list goes on and on. To be fair, lots of these options work, however, some are harmful to the body like diet pills, but overall, people do lose the weight they want and are happy with the results. Still there are some who have tried everything to lose weight and continue to struggle. These are the ones who may be contemplating surgery to help but do not want the potential health risks that come after having these surgeries. What people may not know is that your battle with weight loss may actually be due to an improper balance of gut bacteria, a condition the medical profession calls, ‘dysbiosis.”
Wondering what your gut bacteria has to do with your weight loss challenges?
This article is intended to answer that question. First, we will discuss the role certain major strains of gut bacteria play in your digestive system that can potentially cause someone to be overweight or lean. Second, we will see how inflammation is a part of the obesity problem and how it begins in the gut. Third, this article we show the relationship between blood sugar, gut bacteria, and obesity. Fourth, we will end the article discussing ways to repopulate the gut with good bacteria via foods, supplements, and exercise to help you get on track to losing weight and keeping it off.
Who knew that being overweight may go beyond just exercising, dieting, and will power? All of those are important but what if I told you that your struggles with weight loss may not be just your responsibility but may be due to an improper balance of good and bad intestinal bacteria. I hope that this article may be a sigh of relief for those who are experiencing emotions of guilt, shame, or despair because you just cannot lose the weight after trying so many things. You may actually get some answers for the first time explaining what may actually be the problem.
Let’s begin by discussing two bacterial strains that are dominant in the intestines that can make someone overweight or lean. The two large strains we will focus on here are Firmicutes (pronounced fir-MIH-cue-tees) and Bacteriodetes (pronounced BAC-teer-OY-deh-tees). These are the two most common groups of organisms in the gut and make up about 90 percent of the bacteria population in the large intestine.
What are the primary functions of Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes?
Firmicutes, also known as, “fat loving bacteria,” and the multiple strains of bacteria that are a part of this bacterial family come equipped with large amounts of enzymes to digest complex carbohydrates, so they are efficient in extracting calories/energy from food and increase calorie absorption. They also have been shown to absorb more fat in the gut as well. It has been shown in research that there are elevated levels of Firmicutes in the guts of overweight individuals. In 2015, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that elevated levels of Firmicutes can actually effect your gene expression (epigenetics) which increase your chances for obesity, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.
Bacteriodetes, on the other hand, and its bacterial family breakdown bulky plant starches and fibers into shorter chain fatty acid molecules (polysaccharides) and can be used as energy. It has been shown in research that those who have higher levels of this in the gut are leaner.
It is imperative to keep the proper balance between these two large strains to maintain healthy body weight. In some medical circles, the F/B ratio is now looked upon as an “obesity biomarker.” When the gut is imbalanced with these two strains then weight control problems are a result. Another interesting fact shown in studies regarding Firmicutes bacteria is that it helps to regulate human metabolic genes. When this bacteria is dominant in the gut, then they are actually controlling genes that adversely impact metabolism. In a way, they are kijacking our DNA and making our body think it needs more calories. This will trigger hunger sensations and cause you to consume more food and the chances of excess weight gain is highly probable.
What are some of the causes of this F/B imbalance? Those who were born via C-Section, formula fed, have used antibiotics, eat too many refined and/or processed sugars, fats, and carbohydrates, stress, and have low fiber intake. When infants are born C-section they are not exposed to healthy vaginal bacteria that helps to populate the newborn babies gut with good bacteria. Formula feed babies do not receive the powerful benefits of breast milk to increase good gut flora. Early rounds of antibiotics or taking them throughout your life causes damage leading to dysbiosis. Lastly, the general foods and stress listed above cause the imbalance as well. If you happen to be the person who was born C-section, was formula fed, and have taken lots of antibiotics, everything will be alright. You can rebuild the gut bacteria over time and this blog will teach you some easy steps to do so. C-section and formula feeding has its place, as well as, taking antibiotics. Bringing these things up here is not intended to make people feel bad or make mothers feel like they made any wrong decisions during pregnancy, labor, or in the first years of the babies life. The point here is that these things can lead someone to have an imbalance of F/B gut bacteria which may cause someone to have weight issues later in life. These are just some missing links that may explain why you or someone you may know has difficulty losing weight and keeping it off. A big part of it is your internal microbiota.
Bacteria imbalances and the fires that rage within
A common biomarker found in every disease process is inflammation. So what is the relationship between gut bacteria and inflammation that lead to excess weight gain? For starters, when people think about being overweight, the only things that come to mind are bad eating habits or not exercising enough. You hear people say, “I just need to eat right and exercise more.” The issue of inflammation rarely, if ever, crosses the minds of individuals when it comes to obesity. Guess what? It begins in the gut.
We have already seen how the improper balance of Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes strains of bacteria in the gut can lead to either being overweight or lean. Now the question becomes, how does this relate to inflammation and obesity?
When the gut is heavily populated with the Firmicutes strains and you are consuming unhealthy foods like refined carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and sugars, then the body will absorb more calories, as a result, this leads to weight gain and inflammation. Also these foods only become partially digested in the gut and enter the bloodstream triggering your immune cells to come and gobble up what are called “circulating immune complexes” (CIC’s). Once the immune system is triggered by these molecules, inflammation is a direct metabolic by-product. Over time, the gut remains unbalanced, the body stores excess metabolic wastes from these foods in fatty tissues, and the body remains in an inflammatory state. As you can see, the foods we eat, the lack of digesting our foods via our unbalanced gut bacteria leads to inflammation in the body and weight issues.
Remember, the imbalance of gut bacteria has been occurring in the body for many years for most people and depending on the state of the gut, your body will crave foods that fuel the dominant strains. Like it was stated earlier, a gut dominated by the Firmicutes strains can really take control of the body effecting gene expression which makes the body crave more calories. In a way, it is not always the person responsible for their weight loss challenges.
Another point to talk about is the function of fat cells as it relates to inflammation and obesity. Obesity is associated with increased production of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. These molecules largely come from fat tissue itself, which acts like an organ and releases hormones and these inflammatory substances. Fat cells do more than just store extra calories. This metabolic process is directly linked to what is called visceral fat. The inflammatory and hormonal releases that fat cells give off will interfere with your basic metabolism and effect your normal hormonal function. Until we address this issue of inflammation and poor gut flora, obesity will remain a challenge.
What is the relationship between blood sugar, the gut and obesity?
Let’s begin by discussing the role of insulin and how this hormone effects metabolism. Its main function is to usher energy from food we eat into our cells so it can be used as energy. Our cells can only accept glucose from the foods we eat from insulin because insulin acts like a transporter and is produced by the pancreas. When we eat too much and too many of the wrong kinds of food, then the bloodstream gets flooded with insulin and our cells close some of their insulin receptor site doors to avoid more glucose from entering the cell. Our pancreas secretes more insulin to mop up excess glucose in the bloodstream and continues to do so until blood sugar levels are stabilized. Habitual spikes in someone’s blood sugar due to poor eating habits will eventually cause our cells to become resistant to insulin over time. As a result, regardless of someone’s weight, long-term abnormal blood sugar levels will lead to diabetes (typically type 2) at some point which is an inflammatory disease just like obesity.
So how does all this relate to obesity? Insulin is a so-called anabolic hormone, so insulin encourages cell growth, promotes fat formation and retention, and stimulates further inflammation. High levels of insulin in the bloodstream rev up or turn down other hormones, which throws off the body’s overall hormonal balance. It is obvious to see that if our blood sugar levels are off, then most likely fat formation and retention will result causing weight gain.
There is also a strong relationship between maintaining blood sugar levels by our gut bacteria as well, it is not just the pancreas. This is where we come back to the reality that some people who have a dominant gut flora populated with Firmicutes strains will cause cravings for unhealthy foods that spike blood sugar, increase inflammation, and lead to weight gain. Remember these strains of bacteria will lead to absorbing more calories, unlike the person who has more Bacteriodetes strains in the gut that will not allow for excess calories to be absorbed.
This may anger some and say that it is not fair but this new discovery should bring a sigh of relief for many who struggle to lose weight. There is a way out of this struggle! It all begins by addressing the underlying issues of poor gut flora, inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar. There is hope and so we will now turn to our fourth and final section to discuss foods, supplements, and exercise to help you reach your weight loss goals!
First, you want to avoid all refined/processed fats, sugars, carbohydrates, and proteins. These foods will only encourage the proliferation of bad bacteria in the gut that leads to more calorie absorption, inflammation, high blood sugar and weight gain. Avoid conventional meats as much as possible because of the hormones and antibiotics given to these animals, when you eat this meat, it will cause your gut bacteria to become unbalanced. Conventional produce is filled with herbicide and pesticide, so limit your consumption of these plant foods because the poison on these foods will upset gut balance as well. If you cannot afford organic produce, then use filtered water and vinegar to clean your produce, it will help minimize the concentrations of herbicides and pesticides on them.
Second, you want to change the liquids you drink. Medical grade ionized water is great for healthy bacteria in the gut. There is extensive Japanese medical literature showing that ionized water helps to proliferate good bacteria in the gut. Avoid carbonated drinks, bottled fruit juices, alcohol, energy drinks, etc. Limit your coffee consumption to one or two cups per day. Some research shows that using the organic coffee bean to grind and make coffee with does help feed the good strains of gut flora. Also, organic green tea helps with the proliferation of good bacteria, but like coffee, limit your consumption to one or two cups per day.
Third, foods that will help build healthy gut bacteria are dark leafy greens, high fiber vegetables and fruits; fermented foods like organic non-GMO yogurt with no added sugar or flavors, pickled fruits and veggies, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, etc. Good sources of fat like avocados, extra virgin raw coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and chia seeds), organic butter from grass-fed cows, extra-virgin olive oil, almond milk, etc. Proteins like eggs, wild fish (salmon, black cod, mahimahi, grouper, herring, trout, and sardines), grass fed organic meat, etc. Lastly, organic mustard, organic horseradish, salsa (make sure all these are free of gluten, soy and sugar); herbs and spices (make sure they are organic).
Fourth, supplements that will help build the gut!
For starters, taking a non-refrigerated broad spectrum probiotic that has multiple good bacterial strains like the Core Health Pack and Digestive Health is a must. There are 15 strains of stable probiotics in these products which will help to repopulate the good gut flora throughout the digestive system. These strains come from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium family and are the two most researched probiotics in nutrition and medical science today. Many products do not contain prebiotics which are food for the probiotics. It is imperative that you take a product with both prebiotics and probiotics.
The Core Greens will help to stimulate good bacterial growth because many of the natural superfood ingredients are a good source of food for the gut. The more plant based foods that you consume, the more of the dominant strains of Bacteriodetes will begin to grow and cut down on Firmicutes strains. It is not a coincidence that those who consume more raw or lightly cooked plant based foods with high fiber lose weight, along with, adding superfood greens you will find in the Core Greens. Keep in mind, this product is not a fat burner but has the kinds of foods that will build healthy gut bacteria in your digestive system and will work synergistically with the Core Pack, Digestive Health, and the other foods listed above to help you lose weight.
The Core EFAs are a good source of fat that will encourage good bacterial growth as well. The phospholipid structure found in this product that is derived from Krill will easily absorb in the gut and will help to nourish the phospholipid cellular membranes found in the brain. You hit two birds with one stone with this product. You nourish good gut flora and nourish the brain. People need to realize that eating more healthy fats daily will help the gut flourish, maximize energy production, maintain a healthy weight and decrease your chances of neurological brain disorders as an added bonus. You want to make sure that you are not just focusing on weight loss but disease prevention as well and you cannot do that without consuming good healthy fats. As a side note, read my previous article, “Debunking the Cholesterol Theory.” In it, I argue for the importance of consuming good healthy fats, why cholesterol is not an issue with heart disease, what are the root causes of heart disease is, fats to lose weight and how to prevent disease utilizing fats daily.
Exercise, exercise, exercise!! The gut thrives on anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Doing a combination of both weight training and cardiovascular training will make your gut happy!!
Regardless of how you were birthed into this world, how many antibiotics you have taken, or what you have been eating all these years, taking these simple steps outlined for you here regarding foods, supplements, and exercise can get you on the right track and erase years of poor gut flora that may have lead you down the road to being overweight. I hope some of you realize that there is hope! It just takes the desire to take back what has been taken from you by nourishing your microbiota! It takes all these steps to head in that direction so make the decision today to begin this new journey! On behalf of the Core Health Products team, we are here for you! Let us be a support to you on this journey and do not hesitate to reach out to us for encouragement and health coaching guidance.
To better health and longevity!
John Nardozzi, Core Health Products Health Coach and Writer
Perlmutter, David, MD. The Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain-For LIfe. New York, NY. Little Brown and Company. 2015.
Ivana Semova et al., “Microbiota Regulate Intestinal Absorption and Metabolism of Fatty
Acids in the Zebrafish,” Cell Host and Microbe 12, no. 3 (2012): 277. See also
University of North Carolina School of Medicine, “Gut Microbes Help the Body
Extract More Calories from Food,” ScienceDaily, September 12, 2012, accessed
January 8, 2015, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/ 2012/09/120912125114.htm.
- Abdallah Ismail, “Frequency of Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes in Gut Microbiota in Obese and Normal Weight Egyptian Children and Adults,” Med. Sci. 7,
- 3 (June 2011):501-7, doi: 10.5114/aoms.2011.23418, Epup July 11, 2011.
“Clostridium difficile Infection, “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 1,
2013, accessed January 8, 2015, http://cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/ Cdiff_infect.html.
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