A Healthy Gut for Weight Loss and Health
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is one of the most important organs in the body. Loaded with trillions of bacteria, this large organ is responsible for breaking down the food we eat and allowing the right nutrition from these foods to enter the bloodstream. If these bacteria colonies are out of balance, problems can arise that can be anything from decreased immunity, acid reflux, allergies, depression, and yes obesity! New research has linked unhealthy gut bacteria not only to weight gain but to your inability to lose weight. So we begin our weight loss and wellness journey by first obtaining a healthy gut.
How might these bacteria be affecting your health? The bacteria in your gut form an ecosystem that will affect every aspect of your health. Let’s first look at the link between obesity and gut bacteria. In a recent study in China, scientists eliminated obesity-linked bacteria from a morbidly obese rat and got astonishing results. The rat lost 30% of his body weight. The next step was to feed the bacteria to a group of mice and the group developed obesity and insulin resistance. That’s just one of many studies working to prove a link between gut bacteria and obesity. Dr. Natasha Mc-Bride has found the correlation between gut health and all kinds of brain related disorders from autism, ADD to depression. We have known for years that 70-80% of your immunity comes from a healthy gut. Since everything we eat and drink must first pass through the GI system, it seems reasonable that the gateway to health begins with a healthy gut.
The first thing to understand is that many people suffer from an unhealthy balance of bacteria due to the Standard American Diet (SAD), the overuse of antibiotics and the ingestion of chemicals found in our foods and environment. If you’re suffering from any number of health ailments chances are that your lifestyle choices have resulted in an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Diets high in grains and sugars feed the unhealthy bacteria causing an overgrowth in the wrong type and outnumbering the “good guys”. Antibiotics, meant to kill the bad bacteria in your body, can’t discriminate and also kill off the good guys in the gut that are needed for immunity, health and weight loss.
If you struggle with weight loss, acid reflux, IBS, ADD, allergies, depression, decreased immunity or any other number of disorders, isn’t it worth it to first take a hard look at your gut? Getting the gut healthy and happy is as easy as eating the right foods. This is a small price to pay to feel good and lose weight!
So how do you get your gut healthy? First, you must get rid of the standard American diet (SAD) which consists of mostly processed foods, grains and sugars that promote the harmful bacteria and switch to unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits and unprocessed grains along with your lean meats and healthy fats. Take antibiotics only when you truly have an infection that your body needs help fighting and add a high quality probiotic with the antibiotic to replenish the good guys. Avoid chemicals and pesticides found in processed foods that could throw off the balance of good to bad bacteria in your intestines by buying as much organic, grass-fed and/or antibiotic free meats and other food products.
Next we must re-populate the gut with healthy bacteria. Everyone can take a high quality probiotic supplement to help with gut health but what works even better is adding fermented foods to the diet. Fermented foods include cultured foods such as yogurt and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchee. Other fermented foods would be kombucha, natto, miso and tempee. Since there are so many strains of bacteria necessary, and each supplement or food gives you a slightly different variety, its best to rotate the type of probiotic or fermented foods that you add to your diet. Keep in mind you only need small quantities of these foods each day as the bacteria will multiply once they get in the gut.
One food I’ve been enjoying is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea that may or may not be flavored. I find that about 6 ounces a day works great for me. The green Kombucha has spirulina and chlorella that help with detoxing the liver and gives you a great boost of energy but you may prefer a flavored one such as Passionfruit. I love this stuff!
Another great choice is kimchee or sauerkraut. I currently have a client making both of these himself and finds he can flavor them as he likes and always has some healthy, unpasteurized fermented food on hand. No matter what fermented food you decide to try, be sure it’s organic and unpasteurized.
Once you get the good bacteria in your gut you need to feed it the right foods so it can grow. Prebiotics are foods that feed healthy bacteria. Prebiotics include garlic, leeks, honey, bananas, artichokes and onions and many doctors are now advocating that you have one of these in your diet every day. I personally keep a container of chopped up sweet onions in the refrigerator to throw into omelets, salads or other dishes on a daily basis. Onions have other health benefits that also aid in weight loss.
To learn more about the relationship between optimal gut health as it relates to a number of disorders and diseases please look up Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Nutritional Program. I have a family member who cured her son of autism using this incredible program.
In conclusion, before we can get healthy we need to fix the gateway that controls what and how we absorb nutrients. Foods have the power to heal but only if we have a healthy GI tract to digest and absorb our food correctly. Once you get your gut healed not only will GI distress symptoms disappear but the brain will be healthier, inflammation will be decreased, allergies will disappear, skin conditions will clear up and any number of ailments will disappear and we can take the next step in our journey to wellness and weight loss – cleansing. Stay tuned for my blog on detoxifying the liver for optimal health and weight loss. In the meantime, start getting your daily dose of healthy bacteria to open up your gateway to optimal health and weight loss.
Are you looking to transform your health? Mary works with clients all over the country developing personalized nutrition and exercise plans for weight loss and health. If you’re ready to get started on your journey to health and wellness contact her today!