Wondering if your gut microbiome is playing a bigger role in your weight control – loss and gain – than many of the other factors in your life? You might be right! The microscopic life thriving in your digestive tract are critical to everything from your food digestion to your nutrient absorption and can also affect your ability to lose weight or change your risk of gaining it.
The Connection Between the Gut Microbiome and Weight Loss
Research has found that the genes in the bacteria populating your gut microbiome decide how rapidly they grow, how efficiently nutrients will be absorbed into the body, and how rapidly starches will be broken down into sugars. Combined, these factors help to determine the speed and ease of an individual’s ability to lose weight. This helps to explain why a calorie counting diet and exercise strategy will be highly effective for one person but much less effective for a person with a similar age, weight and other factors.
Researchers, who published their findings in the mSystems journal of the American Society for Microbiology, feel that this improved understanding of the gut microbiome could help bring medicine closer to understanding weight loss efficiency. It could make it possible to one day predict which type of diet and exercise strategy would suit a given individual based on the bacteria and other microorganisms colonizing their digestive tracts.
Can You Change Your Bacteria?
Previous research has already been suggesting that different types of bacteria in the gut microbiome can make it easier or harder to lose weight based on various interventions. As a result, many supplement companies have launched probiotic products promising to recolonize with “good bacteria” that will change everything.
While it’s not out of the question that this could one day be possible, research has yet to show that typical probiotic supplements will make weight loss measurably easier or faster. This is not to say that those supplements cannot provide any benefits. It just means that this particular benefit isn’t yet proven to be one of them.
Feeding Your Gut Microbiome
One strategy that is becoming increasingly promising for improving a gut microbiome has to do with avoiding highly processed foods. This research has shown that weight loss can be achieved faster and easier when choosing whole foods or lightly processed foods when compared to regularly eating highly processed counterparts, even when the same amounts were consumed.
This has to do with macronutrient consumption, the quality and balance of nutrient consumption, the impact of those foods on the body’s natural hormone balance, and even the quality of the gut microbiome. It is believed that while such eating habits can help to improve weight loss ease, it can also boost other health advantages such as immune system strength, among others. Easing away from highly processed foods in favor of healthier alternatives is highly recommended.