While exercise, a healthy diet and adequate sleep are all important for maintaining a healthy weight, evidence now shows your gut bacteria could be just as important.
This collection of 37 trillion organisms (mainly bacteria) within your digestive tract is known as your microbiome. It turns out, your microbiome dictates how your body regulates and maintains its weight. A healthy microbiome = a happy waistline.
Is your microbiome storing or burning fat?
While everyone’s microbiome is unique, clear trends show the gut bacteria in a lean person is different to that in an overweight person.
A healthy microbiome in a lean individual is defined by having a diverse range of beneficial bugs, and containing very few ‘bad’ microbes that disrupt the health of the gut. Once the microbiome is in this healthy state, these good bacteria send messages to the body to maintain its weight within a healthy range, hence helping to prevent weight gain.
Alternatively, the gut bacteria in an overweight person often shows a decline in these good bacteria and a rise in the bad bacteria. This imbalance within the gut is a condition known as
“dysbiosis”. In a state of dysbiosis, bacteria begin to act differently: extracting more calories from food, storing more energy as fat and triggering inflammation within the gut itself. All of these factors result in the body storing more fat, especially around the waist (known as visceral fat).
Increase your fat burning bugs
Supporting your microbiome to be as healthy, diverse and free from bad bacteria as possible is a crucial step in maintaining a healthy weight. Probiotics are a potent way to positively influence the health of your microbiome, as they work by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria while reducing the growth of unwanted microbes. One such strain is Metagenics’ Ultra Flora Meta control, which is designed to help support body weight regulation by delivering targeted probiotic support. However, it is very important to speak to your practitioner who can help select the right probiotic strain for your needs, as different strains have different actions and health benefits.
Tips for a healthy gut microbiome
Eat a high fibre diet: your gut microbes rely on the fibre in your food for fuel, so not enough fibre leads to a reduction in the diversity of your microbiome. Interestingly, evidence now shows those who consume more than 30 different types of plants/vegetables each week have a much more diverse microbiome compared to those who consume 10 or fewer types of plants weekly.
Reduce your alcohol intake: the consumption of alcohol can result in dysbiotic changes in your intestinal microbiome, and also triggers gastrointestinal inflammation. If you’re consuming more than one standard drink per day, your microbiome’s probably keen for you to abstain a bit more often!
Manage your stress: when you are stressed, the release of the stress hormone cortisol, and adrenaline sensitise your body to inflammation, including gut inflammation. This disrupts the gut environment, compromising the conditions your beneficial microbes need to flourish.
Move your body: a lack of exercise has also been linked to reduced microbial diversity in the gut – another reason to get moving!
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