Improve your Microbiota to Lose Weight
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Depending on how many calories you consume will be how much weight you lose or gain, correct?
How if I tell you that, with the same number of calories, we gain more weight than our past generations. But, why is this? There are several factors that we must know to understand the behavior of our bodies and subsequently be able to modify them if we want our organism to react differently.
When there are imbalances in our body, regardless of how many calories we consume, we accumulate more fat and it will be more difficult for us to notice positive changes in our health.
One of the main factors is the intestinal microbiota. Have you heard about this term? Well, roughly speaking, the microbiota is a metabolic organ that plays a huge role in how we process food and how our hunger-satiety system works.
Definition of Microbiota
Although the terms microbiome and microbiota are used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. The microbiota refers to "bugs" and the microbiome refers to "bugs" and their "genes".
The gut microbiota, sometimes called the gut flora, refers to the different populations of living microbes present in the large intestine, including bacteria and viruses. They are the microorganisms that are found in a specific environment and are divided by type. There are: fungi, viruses, bacteria, protozoa and archaea. The variety depends on each person.
And for bacteria don’t think I mean something bad. Many of them are beneficial as they have a function for health. Some produce vitamins, others are probiotics for example. There are also microbes that do no harm, and others that can make us sick.
These little bacteria have evolved and have developed ways to manipulate us so that we choose the foods they prefer. They can even change your palate by changing the flavor and making you crave specific foods. Therefore, when talking about the microbiota we can say "we are what we eat."
Studies have shown that different accumulations of fat occur at different microbiota. If you could, for example, transplant the microbiota of an obese person, to that of a thin person, the thin person would gain weight or vice versa.
These studies are still very young and do not provide a solid answer in demonstrating what is the ideal type of microbiota for good health and being slim. The only point that seems to be constantly important is having a diverse microbiota. This makes sense since it shows a balance in the system and, therefore, there will not be an imbalance in it, a problem known as dysbiosis. Élie Metchnikoff, microbiologist and Nobel Laureate in Medicine, said that many diseases start in the digestive tract when the "good" bacteria are unable to control the "bad" ones.
How to improve your microbiota?
Properly feed the bacteria
We know that food is key to everything. Eating a diverse diet, consuming various types of fiber, reducing consumption of processed foods, consuming different types of polyphenols, including probiotics and prebiotics. I will discuss this in detail later.
It happens to all of us that we always eat the same, whether for comfort, lack of time, or other reasons. But it is highly recommended to vary the food as much as possible to get a microbiota that is also varied. Obviously, the higher the quality of the food, the better the result.
Within the prebiotics we can find the fiber and the polyphenols. Fiber is generalized in soluble and insoluble. This is an arbitrary category, but we could also divide them depending on their fermentability or viscosity..
Types of fiber and foods high in it:
· Beta-glucan: present in cereals such as oats or in mushrooms.
· Pectin: fermentable fiber present in fruits such as apples, pears or oranges.
· Inulin: soluble fiber that has been shown to help lose weight. Present in vegetables such as onion, garlic, chicory and artichokes.
· Resistant Starch: found in carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes.
· Lignin: it’s the hard part of vegetables such as lettuce or Swiss chard.
· Mucilages: viscous and soluble fiber that helps with the elimination of toxins, to regulate intestinal function and even anti-cancer properties are attributed to it. They are found for example in chia seeds, flax, figs and some algae.
Polyphenols and foods high in them:
They have been considered for some time as a great help to combat obesity. They can reduce adipocytes at the cellular level, stimulating lipolysis (fat burning), reducing inflammation and increasing microbial diversity and preventing the growth of bacteria that causes diseases in our body.
Polyphenol sources: fruits such as grapes, red berries, olive oil, cocoa and dark chocolate, nuts, coffee, tea, yerba mate, spices.
Probiotics are present in fermented foods that have been more popular in recent years. This foods include: sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, etc.
Processed & Industrialized Foods
What you eat alters your microbiota, and this microbiota can make you change what you eat, even your cravings and anxiety since they both have an intestinal element. Most processed foods lack nutrients and provide no benefits for the body. Conversely, many have added ingredients, raising the risk of being overweight. In addition, our immune system is strongly linked to our bacteria, so when undergoing intestinal changes, it can result in inflammation.
We must know that not all are harmful. Those that seem to be worse are sucralose (artificial sweetener present in many "light" foods, low in sugar, or labeled as healthy). Emulsifiers like lecithin are harmless, for example, but others like polysorbate 80 and carboxyl methylcellulose damage the microbiota.
When you eat properly, avoiding processed foods, the bacteria that ask for these foods will die from starvation, which will make you feel less desire for it and more desire for healthy food. This is basically the reason why, when you change to a healthier nutrition plan, at the beginning you think the taste is horrible. It´s basically your bad bacteria rejecting it to survive. Once you go through this process for a few days or weeks, you’ll see healthy food starts tasting really good and junk food will taste bad, make you feel heavy and tired.
Avoid foods with saturated fat and added sugars: breads, sweets, soft drinks, cold meats, red meat high in fat.
The production of butyrate in the colon increases satiety, reduces inflammation and makes it easier for you to control your cravings for overeating. Fiber-rich foods are generally high in butyrate. For this I recommend foods like lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, almonds, etc.
Probiotic Supplements for Fat Loss
It is impractical to do this if we do not have a suitable microbiotic environment. Microbial diversity is different from one person to another, so using external organisms can be counterproductive or may simply have no benefit. You must make sure you have a good nutrition first before spending your money on a product that promises you unproven benefits.
The microbiota is probably even more important than counting calories. This will dictate the fate of those calories and the weight lost with a specific nutrition plan.