Despite having gyms, fitness apps at our fingertips and too many diets to count, the modern day population is continuing to gain weight. This is why at BePure we take a systems biology approach meaning that we look at our entire body systems and see how they interplay.
I have previously written about the impact of stress, hormonal imbalances, toxins, lack of nutrition and inflammation on our weight, however, gut health also plays a role – which makes sense as the gut really is the gateway to optimal health!
“Gut health also plays a role in weight - which makes sense as the gut really is the gateway to optimal health!"
We now know that weight is so much more than just calories in and calories out and rather it is actually an incredibly complex biological process. And although the common belief is that we need to lose weight to get healthy, we actually need to get healthy to lose weight. At the BePure Clinic, we’ve found that many of our clients have trouble losing weight until they have dealt with their underlying gut problems.
“Despite the common belief that we need to lose weight to get healthy, we actually need to get healthy to lose weight.”
Let’s take a closer look at how your gut health could be influencing your weight and what you can do about it.
The diversity of your microbiome
Your microbiome is the community of living microbes, including beneficial bacteria (and non-beneficial bacteria) in your gut. It is important your gut bacteria are balanced in favour of the beneficial type, so they can provide the many benefits that support optimal digestion, health and weight.
“It's important your gut bacteria are balanced in favour of the beneficial type, so they can provide the many benefits that support your optimal digestion and health."
A strong diversity of beneficial bacteria supports a healthy metabolism needed for optimal health. Whereas research shows that a lack of diversity and beneficial bacteria increases inflammation in the body, which is associated with a slow metabolic rate and weight gain.
Further research has found that your microbiome also impacts the way your body responds to food, implying that we can give two people the exact same food but they will have completely different responses to it depending on their microbiome! For example, if you give the same food to person A who is lacking in microbiome diversity and person B who’s microbiome is thriving, Person A is more likely to store body fat than person B.
“We can give two people the exact same food but they will have completely different responses to it depending on their microbiome!”
Your microbiome is completely unique to you and is uniquely influenced by your dietary intake, current and past environments, your mother’s microbiome, when you were born, your stress levels, age and so much more.
While your microbiome is influenced by things out of your control, there are still plenty of things you can do to nurture a happy, healthy microbiome which we will cover later in this blog.
Breaking down food to absorb nutrients
Your gut is where your body digests and absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat. When we unable to break down our foods, it means those undigested larger molecules that can not be absorbed continue down the digestive system. They end up in places they are not supposed to be. This creates an inflammatory reaction in the gut and to make matters worse if they are large sugar molecules they actually feed non-beneficial bacteria and yeasts allowing them to multiply!
“When we unable to break down our foods, it means those undigested larger molecules that can not be absorbed continue down the digestive system.”
If bacteria and yeast block the barrier of your small intestine, precious nutrients from the food you are eating may go straight through you (or even be stolen by those unfriendly bacteria!). Undigested food can create even more carnage for those with leaky gut. When undigested food particles enter the bloodstream, they then load up the immune system and liver!
We need to improve our ability to break down food so that we maintain a well-balanced microbiome and to ensure we can access all the nutrients in our food.
How your gut health impacts your hormones
For women, in particular, a dysfunctional gut, whether it is a leaky gut, compromised absorption, or gut dysbiosis can wreak havoc that also impacts hormones. Non-beneficial bacteria actually create enzymes which break apart hormones such as oestrogen, that were packaged up ready to leave the bowel. When hormones are broken apart again they are reabsorbed into the body and recycled. Most people we see at the BePure Clinic already have high levels of oestrogen, which means this recycling is leading to increased oestrogen levels.
Normally our bodies would process this extra oestrogen through our liver. But because of gut dysfunction, nutrition choices, stress and liver-loaders such as alcohol and caffeine, our liver function is often compromised and we struggle to clear it. If we can’t clear it, what are we going to do with these unprocessed toxins?
“Unprocessed toxins have to go somewhere. With no other options, our body will store them within fat cells.”
Unprocessed toxins have to go somewhere. With no other options, our body will store them within fat cells until the the liver has capacity to remove them. Excess oestrogen tends to cause increased weight gain around the hips or the thighs. If that is where you’re holding your weight, this is a sign that oestrogen dominance could be a concern for you. You can learn more about how hormone imbalance could be impacting weight loss here.
8 Tips to Support Your Gut for Optimal Health and Weight
1. Chew your food till liquid
The digestion process actually begins in the mouth, when we chew our food and mix it with saliva. The enzymes present in our saliva start the process of breaking down our food, in particular, carbohydrates. This also triggers the release of hydrochloric acid in our stomach and bile in our small intestine, readying it to receive the food and break it down effectively.
2. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Water
Starting the day with apple cider vinegar or lemon water also helps to stimulate hydrochloric acid, which supports your body to break down foods so you can absorb the nutrients.
3. Eat right for you
Eating right for you will naturally nourish your metabolism so that it can function optimally. To find out your macronutrient profile type you can take the BePure Macronutrient Profile Questionnaire. Ultimately, the right diet for you is the one that keeps you the fullest the longest.
4. Add fermented foods to your diet
Fermented foods help restore the correct balance and diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, yoghurt and kimchi.
5. Include prebiotic foods too
To ensure your beneficial bacteria thrive, include prebiotic foods in your diet. Prebiotic are the foods that feed the beneficial bacteria living in our intestines. Learn more about prebiotics here.
Stress is commonly associated with inflammation and can increase leakiness in the gut leading to weight gain. Some tips we recommend to bring more calm into your life include; going for a walk in nature, breathing exercises or practicing restorative yoga.
7. Include a quality, high strength probiotic
Research shows the promotion of diverse beneficial gut bacteria with a quality daily probiotic is essential for supporting optimal digestion, nutrient absorption and ultimately our health and energy status.
8. Include a quality, high strength digestive enzyme support
Digestive enzymes play a crucial role in gut health, functioning as catalysts which speed up biochemical reactions within the body that break down food for proper assimilation and nutrient absorption in the body. They are crucial for the effective digestion of all carbohydrates, fats and protein, while helping to regulate cholesterol and triglyceride levels.