I’m going to share with you two fundamental concepts about weight loss. These concepts seem simple—but it’s surprising how often they get left out when people are talking about diet. Yet if you don’t follow these two simple concepts, your weight-loss attempts are probably going to be unsuccessful, no matter how little you eat or how much you exercise. Ready? Here they are:
If you want to lose weight, you need a healthy gut.
If you want a healthy gut, you need a healthy microbiome.
The microbiome is the community of trillions of bacteria that lives within your body. You depend upon your microbiome for many crucial aspects of your health, including your digestion, your metabolism—and your weight.
Without a healthy microbiome, you won’t have a healthy gut. And without a healthy gut, you will find it extremely difficult to lose weight…and even more difficult to keep it off.
So let’s take a closer look.
What Keeps Your Gut Healthy?
Conventional medicine views your gut and your immune system as two separate systems. In reality, though, they are closely related—and your microbiome is crucial to both.
The lining of your gut wall is one cell thick. Right on the other side of that cell wall is your immune system.
So any time the cells of your gut wall are not functioning optimally, your immune system suffers.
And what keeps your gut wall in tip-top shape? Your microbiome.
When your microbiome is full of friendly bacteria, your gut walls are healthy and strong, and your immune system functions in peak condition.
When the balance tips, and there are too many unfriendly bacteria in your microbiome, your gut and your immune system both suffer.
So if you’ve been getting lots of colds and infections, don’t blame it on the weather or on “the bug that’s going around.” Think about how you can support your microbiome. You’re your gut and your immune system will thank you for it.
Unhealthy Gut, Unhealthy Weight
An unhealthy gut leads to weight gain in a number of ways:
Lack of nutrient absorption. If your gut is not functioning properly, you are frequently failing to absorb the nutrients you need. This throws your whole metabolism out of whack. Not only will you find it harder to lose weight…you will often end up gaining.
Bacterial overgrowth. An imbalanced microbiome leads to an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria. This activates your immune system, which responds with inflammation, a response designed to zap any invaders. The side effects of inflammation, however, are very problematic. They include acne, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression—and weight gain. Ultimately, inflammation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.
Not enough butyrate. A healthy gut produces butyrate, a biochemical that speaks directly to your genes. Butyrate can turn on your weight-loss genes. It also supports your metabolism in a number of other ways. I often prescribe butyrate supplements to my weight-loss patients—but meanwhile, I work to help them heal their gut, so that they are naturally producing all the butyrate they need.
These are just some of the ways in which an unhealthy gut can make you fat.
Heal Your Microbiome!
So what’s the solution? The following steps can help you support your microbiome, heal your gut, and lose unwanted weight:
Eat lots of fermented foods: sauerkraut, yogurt (plain, unflavored, packaged without fruit), kimchee (a Korean fermented cabbage), kefir (a type of fermented milk, must also be plain and packaged without fruit). These support your microbiome and help to replenish the healthy bacteria that your gut needs to be healthy as well.
Cut out sugar, refined flour, trans fats, hydrogenated fats. These fed unhealthy bacteria, disrupt gut function, and create weight-promoting inflammation.
Take probiotics: powders, pills, or capsules containing billions of healthy bacteria. It’s especially important to take probiotics if you are also taking antibiotics.
Eat plenty of Microbiome Superfoods: asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks, jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, carrots, radishes, and tomatoes. These foods contain plenty of fiber that feed your healthy bacteria and keep your microbiome and your gut in peak condition.
It’s remarkable how much difference your microbiome and your gut can make to your overall health—and to your weight. Healing your gut and balancing your microbiome are two of the most important items in your weight-loss toolkit.