By Diana Sanchez, Staff Writer
Photo by Alexa Suter on Unsplash
Have you ever noticed how some women don’t watch what they eat but still manage to stay thin? Meanwhile, you look at a brownie and instantly gain 5 lbs?
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. I noticed for years while growing up that not all women seemed to struggle maintaining their weight as much as I did. My best friend in high school used to make milkshakes after school every single day, ate whatever she wanted generally, and threw in a salad once or twice a week just to feel like she was eating healthier. Not only was she thin, she never gained a pound. Not once. Now part of that is likely due to a faster metabolism. But what if I told you that gut health is a very real reason why some women struggle with their weight - and some don’t?
What does gut health have to do with weight?
The human body has various sites full of microorganisms, like your nose and your mouth. The human gut is no exception. In fact, it is home to a large number of bacteria, about 100 trillion bacteria cells, also called microbiota, with varying rates of diversity.
This community plays a very important role in your digestive health. Your gut bacteria produce vitamins, communicate with your immune system, and create substances that go into your bloodstream. Gut bacteria also affect how well our food is digested and send signals indicating fullness after eating. In fact, when your gut bacteria is too good at breaking down your food, that means that your body absorbs every. single. calorie you eat, leading to weight gain. So it’s really the bacteria that don’t break down food so well that can aid in weight loss. So your observations that you eat the same as your friend but gain more weight could actually be spot on. The word unfair comes to mind here...
Understanding gut health is an ongoing process for researchers. Recent studies have found that individuals that have a larger number of a type of bacteria called Christensenellaceae in their gut are more likely to be thinner, while individuals that have fewer quantities of this bacteria are more likely to be obese.
That’s wild, right? You can begin to see how gut bacteria can affect your weight.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably asking the first thing I asked after discovering this, which was:
How can I fix my gut health?!?
Ladies, I did all the research for you. Please read on.
Probiotics for Gut Health
Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods, and can help to improve your overall gut health when you include these foods in your daily diet. Fermented foods include:
- Apple cider vinegar (check out our blog about ACV here)
I personally have found that kombucha is greatly helpful in assisting with digestive issues and irregularity, and I start every morning with it. Some people complain about the flavor, but I really enjoy it.
While there is no official treatment for improving your gut health, there are several dietary supplements that you can buy. However, the jury is still out on whether dietary supplements like this are actually effective. As you probably know, dietary supplements are not well regulated. From my research, it seems your best bet is probably to introduce fermented foods in your diet. But if you’d really like to try a supplement, the following have rave reviews.
- Culturelle Daily Digestive Probiotics
- Florastor Daily Probiotic Supplement
- VSL#3 - Probiotic Medical Food for Dietary Management
Fiber, Fiber, Fiber
Make sure to include a variety of fresh veggies and fruits in your diet. These foods are high in fiber which can increase the variety and quantity of bacteria in your gut and improve your gut health.
Let me know if you decide to incorporate more probiotics and what results you get!