Are you aware that there is a whole ecosystem residing inside your body? Occasionally it gets our attention with uncomfortable symptoms in our gut. Oh, you didn’t realize that was the ecosystem talking, did you? You could actually consider it a whole world in your belly, and it influences your body’s function, including weight gain.
A World In Your Belly
That ecosystem – or microbiome – consists of over 500 species of bacteria and some varieties of yeast. In all, there are 100 trillion microbial cells that control digestion, influence your metabolism and can prompt inflammation. And like any ecosystem, there are good guys and bad guys.
The bacteria in your gut thrives on what you feed them – what you eat. When you eat whole, real food, the good guys flourish and produce vitamins and nutrients that benefit your body. When you eat processed, food-like substances, the bag guys thrive and produce toxins that damage your gut lining. This is often the cause of what is known as enhanced instestinal permeability or “leaky gut.”
A “leaky gut” allows partially digested food particles and microbial toxins to pass into circulation. Your immune system will respond, creating inflammation, altering your brain’s appetite controls and causing insulin resistance. This is a key factor behind the development of metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
It turns out that your microbiome is also a key factor in your weight. Not that having more of them causes you to weigh more – actually, those trillions of cells I mentioned earlier only weigh about 3 pounds. Yet they have a significant influence on the way your body functions!
How Bugs Influence Your Weight
A study published in the Diabetes Journal in 2007 showed how metabolic endotoxemia can initiate and promote obesity and insulin resistance. The findings were striking. In rats who were fed a high-fat, low-fiber diet (like a majority of Americans eat), bad bugs took over. They released bacterial toxins in the bloodstream through the gut. These toxins bind to immune cells, which then produce an inflammatory molecule that begins a cascade of inflammation causing insulin resistance, which leads to weight gain.
It’s not a matter of how many calories you eat. It’s what type of food is providing the calories and what information it presents to your body. It can direct your body toward health, or cause an inflammatory cascade similar to what I share above. I assure you, though, that all is not lost. Even if you have been providing the wrong information and promoting growth of the wrong bugs, it’s possible to turn things around.
That’s where I employ the functional medicine 4R approach:
- Remove what is feeding the bad bugs and working against your body.
- Replace the needed enzymes, fiber and prebiotics.
- Reinoculate your gut with good bacteria or probiotics, and finally
- Repair the gut lining with healing nutrients.
Improving the quality of information you are providing your body through whole, fresh, high-fiber foods can significantly reduce inflammation and the resulting weight gain. By shifting the population of the bugs that make up a whole world in your belly, you can greatly improve your overall health. I’m ready to help you do it!