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There Is Now More Evidence Linking Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

Monday, February 3, 2014

You may not care to know this, but the gastrointestinal tract of the average human contains about two to three pounds of bacteria, which outnumbers the body cells by about ten times. Not to worry, as without it you wouldn't have an immune system. But all that bacteria plays a role not only in your immune system, but controlling asthma and some allergies, eliminating toxins and help to improve your mental health. But in this piece we will talk about how it can actually help you lose weight, which should interest almost all of us.
When we normally think of bacteria we imagine disease-causing microbes that invade our bodies. There are certainly plenty of those, but our gastrointestinal tract is made up of a complex system of microbes. They are not only bacteria, but fungi, yeast and protozoa that all carry out specific tasks for our health. They are found in both the large and small intestines.
Two of the strains of bacteria are firmicutes and bacteroidetes, and these two dominate the gut flora of humans as well as other vertebrates. The mix of these two differs in lean and obese people. It has been found that firmicutes bacteria are in a greater abundance in test animals that were obese, and the level of obesity was directly proportional to the levels of firmicutes. The actual cause seemed to be in the fatty acid absorption and the ability to turn calories from sugars into fats.
The bacteroidetes strain, on the other hand, was found to be in higher levels in lean people. It seems that if we are able to shift the balance in these two bacteria in our digestive system it would go a long way to promote weight loss. In tests even with alterations in the diet the balance between the two remained fairly constant over time. So does this suggest that the variation in bacterial composition can't be changed merely by changing our diet?
The answer seems to be that not in the short-term. In a small human study it was found that true to what we know individuals with fewer bacteroidetes (good) and more firmicutes (bad) had greater weight problems than their leaner counterparts. But when the obese participants went on a low-fat low-carbohydrate diet for better than a year, an increase in bacteroidetes in proportion to firmicutes was found.
So diet can turn us round, and if we keep on it in time we should see improvements in our health and make controlling our weight easier. What would some of these foods be?
1. Organic food. Pesticides and other chemicals can play havoc with your beneficial bacteria. Buy organic food products as much as possible, but some fruits and vegetables are especially prone to harmful pesticides if not organic. Not only chemicals that come on foods, but all pollutants that get into the system can do damage.
2. Fermented foods. Sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and even pickles help with gut bacteria.
3. Probiotic foods and supplements. Yogurt has become a favorite, but there are many products such as Kefir that fill the bell.
4. A generally healthy diet. This will include olive oil, fish and flax seed oil, lean protein, nuts and seeds, and of course all colors of fruits and vegetables.

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