So, Halloween is back and so are all the monsters that go howling through the night…..and our gut. Last time we learned about Ghrelin, a hormone which makes you feel hungry. Today, we’re going to talk about the bacteria in our gut.
What is the Gut Microbiome?
Our gut (including the stomach and intestines) houses thousands of types of bacteria, called the microbiome, all playing important roles for our body. From what research has found, their help ranges from nutrient metabolism, immune function to intestinal nerve function. Our gut microbiome is developed through our genetics, early-life bacterial exposures and diet. Recent studies have also found that while our microbiome has its own normal composition, many changes in our environment and lifestyle can negatively affect our gut bacteria. For instance stress, poor dietary choices and aging can alter the gut microbiome, and these can lead to digestive issues, food cravings and a weak metabolism which can, possibly, lead to weight gain and difficulty in losing weight.
How to help explain how bacteria really affects our bodies, I would like to introduce our special guest: Firmicutes and Bacteroides, two popular types of bacteria found in our gut. Please welcome them!
F: Hi guys, I guess I should begin by introducing myself. I’m Firmicutes, but my friends call me Firmy. I am one of the most important bacteria in your gut because my main job is to deal with carbohydrate metabolism, which you can assume is very important in weight management. To make it more simple, as you age, the diversity in your gut bacteria decreases, and therefore the balance of your gut bacteria also change
S. And this can lead to some unwanted body changes such as weight gain and other health problems. But I’ll have Bactey here explain it.
B: Hello dear readers! I am so excited to be here, showcasing my amazing intellect on topics as interesting as myself. Feel free to call me Bacter I’m also a super popular and important type of bacteria in your gut. So, as Firm here mentioned, the balance of your gut bacteria shifts as you age. But it also shifts when you change your diet, exclude important nutrients or take antibiotics as a few examples. But what’s key for both Firm and I, is that our ratio in your gut impacts your weight. Basically, the more Firm you have, and the less Me you have, the higher chance of you having an imbalanced microbiome, relating to weight gain. So really, I am that important for you to lose weight.
F: Yeah, yeah Bacter, but don’t you think you’re oversimplifying your importance too much?
B: Absolutely not! If it weren’t for me, you’d be taking over their entire system and make it your kingdom!
F: Okay, so we kind of veered off topic, but back to the point. Rest assured, I am not out for world domination or anything, Bactey here just has an overactive imagination. But I think what both of us were saying was that your gut bacteria, like Bactey and I here, are very important towards your overall health and I would like to say, today is the best day for you to go to your Dietitian and have a talk with them about your gut health.
B: Yes dear readers, we have provided you with some basic knowledge on ourselves and how we can affect your gut health, which we’ve already established is crucial. So now, it is your turn to decide what are your next steps.
Thank you so much, Firmy and Bactey for coming out today and having this talk with us and our readers. we really appreciate it.
Now this might seem overwhelming and vague enough to apply to every health problem you may be experiencing, but don’t worry. Firstly, weight loss doesn’t have a one-step solution of only changing your diet or only exercising, it’s about a more holistic shift in your entire lifestyle. So even if your gut microbiome is unbalanced, it doesn’t mean that only changing this aspect of your life will change your life completely. But it also doesn’t mean that your gut microbiome should be neglected, because it is still very important to consider on your weight management journey.
How to Improve your Gut Microbiome
Just to quickly remind you, things such as a door diet, antibiotics and even excessive toxins can disrupt our microbiome, they do this by essentially killing off the bacteria, therefore reducing the diversity and healthy ratios present in our gut.
So, here are some things that you can do to prevent or restore your gut health:
Probiotics (which are live bacteria that help replenish your gut bacteria) and Prebiotics (which help feed the beneficial bacteria) can be found in both food and supplement form. Before using supplements, always double check with your Dietitian. As for food sources, here are a few suggestions:
– Probiotics: Naturally fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and yoghurt
– Prebiotics: garlic, onion, tomatoes, radishes and carrots
Call to Action
For any questions, consultations or further clarification, make sure to check out Kelly Greer, RD. She’s here to help you achieve your goals!
You can first start off by joining her “secret” FaceBook group “Happy Hormone Sister Club”, where you can talk to her and also a bigger community of women who also are on their health journey, just like you.
Muhammad, J. K., Gerasimidis, K., Edwards, C. A., & Shaikh, M. G. (2016). Role of gut microbiota in the aetiology of obesity: Proposed mechanisms and review of the literature. Journal of Obesity, 2016.
Ottman, N., Smidt, H., de Vos, W. M., & Belzer, C. (2012). The function of our microbiota: who is out there and what do they do?. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 2, 104.
Tweed, V. (2016). Building a good gut. Better Nutrition, 78(2), 18-18,20.
Zhang, Y., Li, S., Gan, R., Zhou, T., Xu, D., & Li, H. (2015). Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(4), 7493-7519.