Did you know that your digestive tract is host to trillions of bacteria? And that people of healthy weight have different gut bacteria than those who carry excess weight 1-2?
It’s true. Researchers have even found that when obese mice get a fecal microbiota transplant from lean mice, they lose weight 3. And when lean mice get a fecal microbiota transplant from obese mice, they automatically gain weight 4.
That’s why you should optimize gut health – it helps you obtain and maintain a figure that makes you proud when you look in the mirror. Here are five powerful ways to boost your gut flora.
1. Eat Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are live microorganisms (usually in the form of bacteria) that benefit your health 5. Certain foods contain those live bacteria, especially foods that have undergone fermentation. Examples of probiotic-rich foods are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, natto, and pickles.
2. Supplement With Probiotics
If you don’t consume the foods above on a regular basis, chances are you don’t get enough probiotics. And even if you often eat those foods, you might still lack probiotic intake for various reasons. One of them is that most agricultural producers soak food with chlorine, which destroys many probiotics.
The solution? Take a probiotic supplement. It not only is a reliable way of getting your daily dose of probiotics, but it’s also been found to aid fat loss 6. One study supplemented the diet of 210 obese individuals with the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri for twelve weeks. As a result, they lost 8.5% of their belly fat 7.
3. Consume Resistant Starch
Resistant starches are special types of carb that don’t get broken down in your stomach and small intestine. Instead, they find their way to your colon, where they feed your friendly gut bacteria. That’s why resistance starches supercharge your gut flora.
Besides, consuming resistance starch also increases satiety and makes you ingest fewer calories 8-10. This helps in your quest to mold a lean and impressive physique.
4. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Certain artificial sweeteners spell trouble for your gut 11. An example is aspartame, which stimulates the growth of Enterobacteriaceae, an unhealthy bacteria that raises blood sugar levels 12.
5. Eliminate Stress
Stress wreaks havoc on your gut flora 13. It causes the overgrowth of certain bad bacteria while reducing microbial diversity 14-15. Eliminating all stress from your life is neither possible nor desirable, but there are various things you can do to reduce stress. Two effective strategies are practicing gratitude and meditating.
1. Ley, R. E., Turnbaugh, P. J., & Gordon, J. L. (2006). Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature, 21;444(7122), 1022-3.
2. Turnbaugh, P. J., Ley, R. E., Mahowald, M. A., Magrini, V., Mardis, E. R., & Gordon, J. L. (2006). An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, 21;444(7122), 1027-31.
3. Million, M., Lagier, J. C., Yahav, D., & Paul, M. (2013). Gut bacterial microbiota and obesity. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 19(4), 305-13
4. Turnbaugh, P. J., Ley, R. E., Mahowald, M. A., Magrini, V., Mardis, E. R., & Gordon, J. L. (2006). An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, 21;444(7122), 1027-31.
5. Hill, C., Guarner, F., Reid, G., Gibson, G. R., Merenstein, D. J., Pot, B., . . . Sanders, M. E. (2014). Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 11(8), 506-14.
6. Angelakis, E., Merhej, V., & Raoult, D. (2013). Related actions of probiotics and antibiotics on gut microbiota and weight modification. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 13(10), 889-99.
7. Kadooka, Y., Sato, M., Ogawa, A., Miyoshi, M., Uenishi, H., Ogawa, H., . . . Tsuchida, T. (2013). Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 14;110(9), 1686-703.
8. Bodinham, C. L., Frost, G. S., & Robertson, M. D. (2010). Acute ingestion of resistant starch reduces food intake in healthy adults. British Journal of Nutrition, 103(6), 917-22.
9. Anderson, G. H., Cho, C. E., Akhavan, T., Mollard, R. C., Luhovyy, B. L., & Finocchiaro, E. T. (2010). Relation between estimates of cornstarch digestibility by the Englyst in vitro method and glycemic response, subjective appetite, and short-term food intake in young men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(4), 932-9.
10. Willis, H. J., Eldridge, A. L., Beiseigel, J., Thomas, W., & Slavin, J. L. (2009). Greater satiety response with resistant starch and corn bran in human subjects. Nutrition Research, 29(2), 100-5.
11. Suez, J., Korem, T., Zeevi, D., Zilberman-Schapira, G., Thaiss, C. A., Maza, O., . . . Elinav, E. (2014). Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature, 9;514(7521), 181-6.
12. Palmnas, M. S., Cowan, T. E., Bomhof, M. R., Su, J., Reimer, R. A., Vogel, H. J., . . . Shearer, J. (2014). Low-dose aspartame consumption differentially affects gut microbiota-host metabolic interactions in the diet-induced obese rat. PLoS One, 14;9(10), 109841.
13. Bailey, M. T., Dowd, S. E., Galley, J. D., Hufnagle, A. R., Allen, R. G., & Lyte, M. (2011). Exposure to a social stressor alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota: implications for stressor-induced immunomodulation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 25(3), 397-407.
14. Bailey, M. T., Dowd, S. E., Parry, N. M., Galley, J. D., Schauer, D. B., & Lyte, M. (2010). Stressor exposure disrupts commensal microbial populations in the intestines and leads to increased colonization by Citrobacter rodentium. Infection and Immunity, 78(4), 1509-19.
15. Bailey, M. T., Dowd, S. E., Galley, J. D., Hufnagle, A. R., Allen, R. G., & Lyte, M. (2011). Exposure to a social stressor alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota: implications for stressor-induced immunomodulation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 25(3), 397-407.