We hear it all the time, don’t we? Improve your diet and exercise to lose weight and for better health. For some of us, it is not always so simple. Whether you work late hours or have an illness that holds you back, I absolutely understand how detrimental this struggle can be for you. To find out what’s happening in our bodies, let’s dig deeper – into our gut.
Home to an astounding number of microbes, fungi, and other single-celled organisms, our bodies can host around 500 different bacteria with a whopping 2 million genes! We are basically more microorganism than we are human, in a way. We all have a unique microbiome in our bodies that we feed with our diet. Suffice to say, these organisms play a vital role in our digestive and overall health.
How Gut Health Affects Your Entire Body
Our gut health starts at birth with what we were exposed to in our mum’s microbiomes. Things you eat and drink and your general lifestyle have a constant effect on your microbiome. Unfortunately, while most of these bacteria are beneficial, illness and poor diet can cause a spike in “bad” gut bacteria. This imbalance of bacteria is called gut dysbiosis.
In fact, gut dysbiosis can indicate damaging gut bacteria that’s way out of balance (so much that the bad far outweighs the good). When the gut undergoes this shift it can lead to a plethora of ills including Crohn’s disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), as well as rosacea and ulcerative colitis.
Your body’s microbiome affects your whole body, not just your digestive system. Your microbiome essentially just refers to the collection of microbes and microorganisms throughout your body.
Decades of studies suggest that our gut health can impact heart health, skin conditions, endocrine system, and even some cancers. Specifically, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, colon cancer, and obesity. A healthy gut full of good bacteria enhances our immune system function, combats weight issues, and can improve our mental health.
I knew something was up when I had to fight constant fatigue. Unhealthy gut bacteria can lead to sleep issues like insomnia or light sleep cycles that keep you constantly fatigued throughout the day. Hormones, like serotonin and melatonin, that are largely connected to sleep and mood are produced in the gut.
There may be a problem with your gut microbiome if you are experiencing unexplained weight gain or loss without any changes in your diet. Imbalanced bacteria can lead to an impaired ability to absorb nutrients while also interfering with blood sugar regulation and fat stores.
Thinner people tend to have a higher number of good gut bacteria. This keeps their metabolism high and ensures that they are absorbing more nutrients. If you are not absorbing nutrients, you end up craving more food to make up for the discrepancy.
The connection between our gut and brain is often referred to as the “gut-brain axis.” Researchers speculate that neurological issues, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are connected to problems associated with our microbiomes. Early life infections, antibiotics, diet, and some medical treatments can potentially harm the mucosal membrane in our GI tract.
Commonly, anxiety and depression are often thought to be affected by our gut bacteria. This is due to a poor connection in the gut-brain axis that causes miscommunication between the brain and the gut. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety are often associated with weight gain as well since they make it difficult to perform necessary tasks.
What Can You Do?
Now that you understand just how your gut bacteria can interfere with your health, you are probably wondering what you can do to help.
Regulate your sleep patterns by keeping the same sleep and wake times each night. Quality sleep is important, so try to plan for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Analyse Your Diet
First and foremost, stay hydrated! It never hurts to make sure you’re getting enough water (8 cups a day is the recommended minimum, but will vary slightly based on your weight). Drink a cup of water before meals and consume your meals slower.
Fiber is vital for gut health. Try to get fiber from whole foods rather than processed snack bars and cereal. Broccoli, beans, pears, and avocado are great sources of natural fiber. Avoid foods that are high in sugars since it can increase “bad” bacteria. Since it’s been shown that bad gut bacteria can increase unhealthy cravings, it can be a difficult cycle to break. Save that chocolate for a cheat day!
Make an appointment with your doctor if you are having symptoms of food intolerances; such as stomach issues like bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
Prebiotics benefit the growth of good bacteria by “feeding” them. Probiotics are actual live, good bacteria. What these two do is assist in producing SCFAs (short chain fatty acids), which increases energy, protects your gut from bad bacteria, and reduces inflammation to a certain extent. While a good 10th of your average calorie intake is going to provide both of these, a supplement can ensure you get enough to keep your gut in balance. Talk to your healthcare provider to see which supplement will aid you the most!
Your gut microbiome plays a key role in your overall health and can be detrimental to your weight loss goals. I know that you can regain control of your gut health and improve your health if you follow this program. Your journey has been hard – I get that – but after arming yourself with the knowledge I have provided, I am certain that you will feel stronger and more confident. Call me now and we can retake control of your health together!