When it comes to losing weight, there is more to the equation than calories in and calories out. One factor that is very rarely considered has to do with your gut microflora.
Within your intestines there exists a complete ecosystem, and it is collectively known as your gut microflora. Believe it or not, it is here that you will find the permanent solution to your weight loss woes.
In this article, you will discover the key bacteria that you need in your gut to promote fat loss. We’ll then share the foods that will help to build up your levels of this bacteria in order to supercharge your weight loss efforts.
A Closer Look at Your Gut
Your body is a vast network of interconnected micro-organisms. There are trillions of them all throughout our bodies and they are the primary drivers of our health and well-being.
Within the lower intestines dwells a complex ecosystem of micro-organisms. They are often referred to as the ‘garden of life.’ These micro-organisms include:
Collectively, these lower intestinal micro-organisms are known as the human gut microbiome.
Using the analogy of a garden, the human gut microbiome flourishes when we treat it well. When we properly feed, water and weed it, so to speak, it will produce the fruitage of health and wellness.
On the other hand, if we give it the wrong foods, don’t hydrate and otherwise abuse it, the human gut microbiome will produce negative health results.
Within your body are about 100 trillion micro-organisms. The majority of them are located in your lower intestines. This gives the microflora in your gut a weight of between 3 and 5 pounds. In fact, the microbe cells within your body right now outnumber your own human cells by a factor of 10!
Researchers on the Human Microbiome Project have been busily characterizing and analyzing the role of this microflora on your health and well-being. Over the past few years, these scientists have identified over 1,000 species of microbes.
The relationship that you have with these microbes is a symbiotic one. In turn for your housing them and providing them with food, they do the following for you.
- Break down complex carbohydrates
- Produce vitamins and nutrients, such as Vitamin K, B12, niacin, and pyridoxine
- Produce short-chain fatty acids
- Protect against pathogens
- Train the immune system
- Support detoxification
- Modulate the nervous system
These are not all of the functions of the human gut microbiome. But they are enough to demonstrate its importance in regulating our health, well-being and weight management. When the microbiome is out of balance, we gain weight and open ourselves up to such diseases as Type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiovascular disease.
How Gut Flora Affects Your Weight
Recent research has revealed that microbes in your gut actually communicate with your brain to tell it that you are full. Gut flora also has an influence on the chemical pathways that regulate blood sugar and insulin balance.
The flora in your gut also controls the speed and efficiency of your metabolism.
These divergent functions
- Controlling appetite
- Regulating blood sugar and insulin
- Controlling the metabolism
are all crucial factors in weight maintenance.
Researchers at the Center for Genome Science and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis designed a study to determine whether gut flora affects weight gain. Here’s how they did it . . .
The researchers sterilized the digestive tracts of two groups of mice. The first group’s intestines were colonized with fecal flora from an obese fellow mouse. The intestines of the other group were populated with the gut flora from a lean mouse.
The two groups were then fed an identical diet for the next 14 days. Activity levels were also the same. At the end of the two weeks, the mice who had similar gut flora to the obese mouse gained more weight than the group with gut flora from a lean mouse.
This study clearly shows that there are particular types of gut flora that affect weight gain. Conversely, there are other types that cause you to lose weight. Now, here’s the kicker . . .
The type of gut flora that is dominant in your gut will dictate how much fat you put on – and how much fat you are able to lose.
Scientists have identified that there is two key phylum of bacteria in your gut when it comes to weight loss. They are . . .
We know from the scientific research that has been carried out that Firmicutes are closely associated with overweight and obesity, whereas bacteriodetes are associated with weight control and leanness.
The result is that you have got a huge amount of metabolic firepower in your gut thanks to the bacteria in your microbiota. Over millions of years, these bacteria have been acquired from the environment to help us to maximize energy extraction from the diet. They also allow us to flexibly adapt to dietary changes.
This difference primarily involves higher numbers of Firmicutes and lower numbers of bacteroidetes.
So, obese individuals appear to have more Firmicutes than bacteroidetes in their gut. That is the reason that an overweight person can exercise religiously and follow a healthy diet and still not lose any body fat. Their gut bacteria is skewered towards firmicutes. Until they rebalance this situation in favor of bacteroidetes, they will never achieve weight loss success.
So, does this mean that the situation is hopeless?
Are we facing the classic Catch-22 situation where we have too many firmicutes because we are fat and we are fat because we have too many firmicutes?
Fortunately, not . . .
It is possible to rebalance our gut microbiota. The following foods will allow you to do just that.
Lacto Fermented Vegetables
Lacto fermented veggies are a powerful rebuilder of gut health. They are packed with good bacteria, including lactobacillus (the most common beneficial bacteria). They also contain lactic acid.
Many people are confused about lactic acid. Some think that it is associated with dairy foods (as in lactose). The only connection is that when broken down lactose produces lactic acid. However, there is no dairy in lacto-fermented vegetables.
The two best lacto-fermented vegetables are sauerkraut and kimchee. However, not all of them are the same. When you are in the grocery store look for the following on the labels . . .
- It should state that it is cultured or unpasteurized
- Make sure there is no vinegar, sugar or other preservatives in the product
The process of pasteurization will kill off all of the good bacteria in sauerkraut and kimchee. So, will the addition of vinegar.
Make sure, too, that these foods are stored in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Ideally, you should go to a farmer’s market and find people who are making their own sauerkraut and kimchee.
When introducing these foods, start slowly and ramp up your intake. You will be introducing a lot of organisms into your gut. Both kimshee and sauerkraut provide 13 different probiotics. To avoid a bad gut reaction, start with just two forkfuls at your main meal of the day and slowly build from there.
The Power of Fermented Foods
Fermentation is the oldest and best method for preserving and enhancing the nutritional value of both raw and cooked vegetables. It gets rid of the bad bacteria in the food and enhances the good bacteria.
The first stage of fermentation involves submerging the vegetable in a salty brine in order to kill off the bad bacteria. The good bacteria (lacto bacillus) survive this process. In the next stage of the process, the lactose and other sugars present in the food are broken down into lactic acid.
Lactic acid is a great preservative. At the same time, it produces a sour, tangy taste.
THE FERMENTING PROCESS
The fermentation process requires just a few pieces of equipment:
- The vegetable you will be fermenting
- Cutting board
- Knife or Mandoline
- Fermenting Vessel
For our example, we’re going to make sauerkraut. You will start with a whole cabbage.
- Cut and quarter the cabbage and then cut out the core.
- Cut the quarters into eighths, pulling off the loose outer leaves.
- Slice the eighths into your preferred thickness.
- Place the sliced-up cabbage into your fermenting vessel.
- Add salt to the vessel. Salt should be based on weight. Use roughly 1 ½ tsp of salt per pound of vegetables.
- Rub the salt into the shredded pieces of cabbage until the juice from the cabbage comes out. You want the cabbage to be submerged in it’s own brine.
- Continue kneading the mixture to compress it down.
- Add a weight to press the mixture jar. You may place a plate over the sauerkraut and then put a mason jar fill of water on top of it
- Allow the vessel to sit and naturally go through the fermentation process. The longer you leave it the more it will ferment. For a mild level of fermentation, leave it for a week
A single spoonful of sauerkraut delivers trillions of probiotics and enzymes to the gut. They will provide all of the benefits and more of expensive probiotic supplements.
You should consume sauerkraut daily. Add it as a side dish to your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Using it as a condiment with cooked meats is a smart idea. The abundance of healthy bacteria found in sauerkraut can offset cancer-causing compounds that are present in cooked meat.
Coconut Milk Kefir
Kefir is a thick, yogurt-like cultured drink that is made from coconut milk (you can also use coconut water). It is thinner and far more potent than yogurt. It has a sour taste yet is extremely refreshing. This fermented food is impregnated with yeast and bacteria. These then convert lactose and yeast to create propionic acid and lactic acid.
The micro-organisms that result from this process greatly improve the health of the gut microbiome. When you consume kefir, you’ll be providing your body with natural probiotic properties that go a long way to reestablishing healthy gut flora.
Coconut milk kefir combines the benefits of kefir with those of coconut milk. And guess what coconut does?
It helps you to burn more fat. In fact, each tablespoon of coconut oil will help you to burn an extra 120 calories of fat. Coconut oil also has an appetite suppressant effect on the hunger control hormones of the body. So, people who eat a lot of coconuts tend to eat less.
Studies have shown that the addition of coconut oil to the diet can reduce belly fat measurement. In a recent study, two group were analyzed over 16 weeks. Both groups followed the same diet and activity level. The only difference was that one group was given a tablespoon of coconut fat per day. At the end of the trial, the waist measurements of the trial group were significantly lower than that of the control group.
50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil is lauric acid. Lauric acid is antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial. It is a super protector of all the germs that can attack your body.
How to Make Coconut Milk Kefir
What you need
- 2 cups of raw coconut meat
- A 2-quart glass jar
- A food processor (or a powerful blender)
- Filtered water
- Kefir grains
- Grate the coconut meat very finely.
- Process the coconut meat in the food processor until it is completely pulverized and pasty (about 10 minutes)
- Place a third of a jar of coconut meat in a jar and then fill with water. Now pulse in the blender for 10 seconds.
- Place the mixture into your glass jar with the aid of a strainer. Squeeze all of the water into the jar, leaving the meat behind. This can be used for baking.
- Repeat until you have processed all of the coconut meat.
- Add a tablespoon of kefir grains to the coconut milk.
- Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, placing a rubber band over it to keep it tight.
- Place the jar in a dark, warm place for 24 hours.
5 bonus tips to help you build up your level of healthy gut bacteria
- Eat every 3 hours
- Have lean protein at each meal
- Have fibrous vegetables at each meal
- Have healthy fats at each meal
- Cut out processed carbs