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August 28, 2018

What are gut bacteria?

Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you how healthy your gut is. Each person has a unique gut flora or microbiota which is determined with the environment they are living as well as their daily lifestyle and diet.  

It has been estimated that the human microbiome or gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of bacteria, which outnumbers your own human genes by more than a hundred times. These kinds of bacteria are primarily located in your intestine and influence your health in many ways.

Next to our brain, our gut becomes the core of our entire wellbeing because what we eat, drink and digest are connected to everything that happens in our body. So, it is very important to take care of your gut health.

Your gut affects everything from your mood to your metabolism to your immune system. Aside from this, your gut microbiota helps you digest food, regulate hormones, produce vitamins, and excrete toxins. It can also be linked to our mood, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Link Between Gut Bacteria and Obesity

We all know that one of the major public health issues we are facing today is obesity where it poses high health and financial costs to the economy. Aside from that, it could also lead to health impairment and other diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide obesity has nearly tripled between 1975 to 2016, where more than 1.9 billion adults, aged 18 years and older, were overweight and obese. In addition, over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 have suffered from this condition in the year 2016. It has also been found that obesity and overweight kill more people than underweight. 

In Australia, nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults were overweight or obese while one-quarter (26%) of children and adolescents are suffering the same health condition in the year 2014 to 2015, and obesity is still on the rise according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). It has been estimated that obesity and overweight cost the Australian economy $8.6 billion in the year 2011-2012.

Recent studies show that your gut bacteria may affect your weight depending on your diet and the different foods that are being digested in your body.

Losing weight and Gut bacteria

In a 2013 study, 26 participants from the Mayo Clinic Obesity Treatment Research Program who were aged 18 to 65 years old and were obese, or overweight have volunteered to undergo a lifestyle intervention program for weight loss. Their stool samples have been collected and their gut microbiomes have been studied and analyzed for a three-month period.

The researchers found that a gut microbiota with increased capability for carbohydrate metabolism appears to be associated with decreased weight loss. The researchers also added that the ability of the gut bacteria to provide energy may be a weight-loss deterrent.

In addition, Dr. Purna Kashyap, co-senior author of the study and a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said that “gut bacteria are likely an important determinant of the degree of weight loss attained following lifestyle and dietary intervention.”

Luckily, obesity and overweight can be reduced and prevented through different ways.

Feeding your Gut: Foods that you need to eat

Your daily lifestyle and diet will surely have a great impact on the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut which is called microbiome. If there's an imbalance in your gut, it could lead to obesity, weaker immune system, certain types of diseases and chronic ailments. Here are different types of food that you need to eat and things that you need to do to nourish your gut:

  • Eat fibre-rich foods. You should have a nutritious diet partnered with regular exercise and good eating habits. Studies show that by digesting fibre-rich foods your gut bacteria produce chemicals that will make you feel full and could promote weight loss.
  • Take Omega-3 fatty acids. Foods that have anti-inflammatory fats such as omega 3 improves healthy gut flora. It can be found in foods like fish, avocados, almonds and extra-virgin olive oil. You could also take dietary supplements that are high in Omega-3 such as fish oils. 
  • Reduce your intake of Omega-6 fatty acids. On the other hand, you should cut back on omega-6 because it is pro-inflammatory and could promote the growth of bad bacteria that causes weight gain and inflammation. These include polyunsaturated fats that can be found in flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil and other seed oils.
  • Avoid fats, sugar and salt. Also, cut your energy intake from the different types of food that you eat which are high in fats, sugar and salt. You should eat foods that are unprocessed, unrefined and rich in fibre like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods such as pickles, kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha also boost digestion and promote better gut health. These food are high in probiotics that could lead to an increase of antibodies. 
  • Add collagen to your diet. It has been found that collagen has gut-healing properties and can strengthen the lining of your digestive tract. Aside from this, supplemental collagen is proven to be great for your skin health, bone health, immune system etc. 
  • Take probiotic supplements. You could also drink supplements that could help you support your gut health. Daily intake of probiotic supplements promotes a healthy gut and a strong immune system. Probiotic supplements also support the microbial balance in the digestive system. It also relieves constipation, abdominal discomfort, irregular bowel movements, bloating and flatulence.

 Disclaimer: The health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.

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