By now, most people have heard about your microbiome or intestinal bacteria. Probiotics have been a buzz word for a few years now and prebiotics are also becoming more commonly known. So what does the bacteria in your gut have to do with why you may not be seeing weight loss? Kind of a lot! Let's take a closer look at how.
Picture your intestines like you would a city. There are about 100 trillion people (bacteria) in the city. Some of the people are good and they roam around freely. Some are bad and they are kept in check by the good guys. Kind of like jail. When the bad guys get out of jail, they can cause damage to the city. They also need to eat and they are fueled by sugar (among other things). When the bad guys are in places in the city that they aren't supposed to be, this can impact the good guy population and cause a takeover of the bad. More bad guys means more fuel is required for them. And that need for fuel can cause more sugar cravings. Kind of make sense?
So let's say this was happening in YOUR gut. There is an imbalance in the good guy/bad guy population and you are craving sugar. Let's also say that you have a high stress life, and you aren't getting enough sleep or supporting your body with the nutrients it needs. What do you reach for when your body is craving sugar and you are too tired to cook anything else? Most likely it's not a baked salmon and quinoa dinner, right? You reach for whatever's the most convenient food that will satisfy your cravings. We've all been there. It happens.
Well let's also say that when all the good guys are in balance, they manufacture useful products for other cities. In the case of your gut, these useful products are called hormones and neurotransmitters and they are used for critical tasks all over your body. If these aren't produced properly because of imbalanced bacteria or other gut issues (leaky gut, anyone?), hormonal and mood imbalances can occur. When our hormones and mood are off, we usually don't make the best food and lifestyle choices.
People with thyroid conditions tend to blame the thyroid for their slower metabolism, however, it may be more the fault of the gut! Key thyroid hormones are converted to a usable form in the gut. A similar thing occurs with those who have mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. Many believe it's a brain issue, which it can be, but close to 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut! So as you can see, if the gut isn't healthy it can have an impact on the rest of the body and in turn, impact your weight.
So what do you do? How do you heal your gut? What's the first step?
1. Remove. You want to determine what's bugging you (no pun intended...well maybe slightly). This step is all about removing the known irritants and monitoring your symptoms to determine if there are other foods or ingredients that irritate you. This is not meant to be a long-term diet. It is meant to allow for your body to calm down and begin to heal.
2. Replace. Replacing key nutrients that may be missing as well as adding in healing foods to help tame inflammation and promote the "heal and seal" of the intestinal lining is the next step. If the gut isn't healed, then you can continue to see symptoms occurring over and over. Getting as many nutrients through foods and, if needed, herbs, along with digestive enzymes will promote healing of the gut and help prepare you to re-introduce foods back in.
3. Reintroduce. The next step is to begin to reintroduce foods back into your diet. The goal should always be to have the MOST amount of foods with the LEAST amount of symptoms. Keeping a food/symptom journal will be very important to note any indication that irritation and inflammation are happening again. At this stage considering introduction of a probiotic or prebiotic supplement can be considered if there is suspicion that re-population isn't occurring. You want to wait until the gut is healed (the city is built) before you invite the people to live there.
4. Find your balance. Gut issues are not a diagnosis, but a symptom. Something is causing the imbalance and the irritation or the lining to be inflamed. For some it may be more of an acute issue that occurred after, say, a dose of antibiotics. For others, chronic stress, medications, over exercising, poor food choices, or environmental toxins can keep your gut microbiome imbalanced and thus, keep your weight stagnant. Identify your root cause and work to correct it.
If you need help determining if your gut health is a root cause of your weight concerns, reach out to me! We can sit down (virtually) for 20 minutes and discuss your concerns and how I can possibly help.