If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that losing weight is far more complex than simply balancing calories in with calories out. One’s ability to successfully lose weight is tied into several different factors, like diet, activity level, sleep, stress management, hydration, environmental factors, genetics, etc.
A new line of research on the human body’s microbiome is leading to some incredible insights into the relationship between the bacteria that live inside your body and your body weight. Past studies have already shown how certain gut bacteria can instruct the speed of your metabolism, while other bacteria may help release hormones into your body that make you burn more calories and store less fat.
New research is now revealing a fascinating link between the variety of microbes that show up in your poop with how much belly fat you have.
Researchers from King’s London College took stool samples from over 1,300 subjects. The researchers examined the diversity of bacteria in each sample, and compared this against six other measures of obesity, such as body mass index, ratio of upper body fat to lower body fat, and levels of visceral fat (abdominal fat that surrounds vital organs and may increase the risks for several different diseases and health problems).
The scientists found a significant correlation between the subjects’ level of abdominal fat and the amount of microbial diversity in their stools. Subjects who had less abdominal fat showed greater diversity of stool bacteria, compared to subjects with greater amounts of abdominal fat who showed lower levels of diversity.
This suggests a relationship between the human microbiome and body fat. This may also suggest that, while we once believed obesity to be a condition that’s “inherited” through human genes, the passing on of microbial genes from generation to generation may also play an additional role.
The simplest way to diversify your own gut bacteria (and, thereby, to diversify the bacteria in your stool) is by diversifying your diet, and by eliminating the foods from your diet that kill off friendly gut bacteria.
5 Ways to Diversify Your Microbiome to Lose Weight:
1. Eat a wide variety of whole, natural, unprocessed plant foods. The good bacteria in your gut thrive off of a variety of different forms of fiber, which are only found in unprocessed plant foods. Include a large variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes and ancient whole grains in your weekly menus. Eating seasonal foods helps to ensure that you are getting the freshest plant foods available, and that you are regularly rotating a diversity of foods in your diet.
2. Don’t just rely on probiotics. Scientists still don’t completely understand how different types of bacteria interact with your body. Most store-bought probiotic supplements only contain a select few bacterial strains, whereas the variety of bacterial types that dwell in your body are in the thousands. Also, it’s not just about replenishing your gut bacteria, but also about keeping those good bacteria alive and healthily thriving. Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement regularly could help to get the ball rolling, but it’s critical that you also eat a diverse diet of high-fiber plant foods and naturally probiotic-rich foods to ensure a healthy microbiome.
3. Eliminate sugar, refined foods and processed foods. While high-fiber whole plant foods nourish good gut bacteria, diets high in fat, sugar, processed and refined foods kill good bacteria, while also feeding unfriendly gut bacteria that have been linked to obesity and health issues.
4. Exercise. Interestingly, studies show that exercise can promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Include weekly exercise and daily activity in to your routine.
5. Avoid artificial chemicals. Artificial chemicals used in food coloring, sweeteners, preservatives, taste enhancers, and even in food and beverage containers have been shown to kill healthy gut bacteria and have been linked to weight gain. Avoid foods with artificial ingredients and that are stored in plastic or aluminum containers.