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​Why a Healthy Gut Could be Key to Weight Loss

12/08/2022 01:02

You may know that a healthy gut can improve your overall health, but did you also know that it can help you lose weight? Many people suffer from digestive problems; in fact, one in five Americans have some sort of gastrointestinal issue. The good news is that the better your digestive health, the healthier you will feel and the more likely it is that you can lose weight. This is all thanks to the good bacteria in your gut.

Why are gut bacteria good for you?

There are many different types of gut bacteria, known as microbiota. When these bacteria are in balance, it can have positive effects on health.

  • Better food digestion.
  • Improved metabolism.
  • Healthier immune system.
  • Provides a range of essential nutrients, hormones, and enzymes.
  • Protects your body against unwanted pathogens, like viruses.

The body contains bacteria, which are referred to as the microbiota. 

If you’re feeling tired all the time, are suffering from digestive problems, experiencing mood swings, seem to catch every bug going and struggling to lose weight, it could mean a lack of healthy gut bacteria.

You may well have heard the term ‘friendly bacteria’ – it’s well-used by marketing teams of live yogurt. This is because live yogurt contains the bacterial cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum, which are beneficial to our gut health and help to restore balance.

There are three main types of friendly bacteria:

  • Lactobacillus – this bacterium is in your mouth, gastrointestinal track as well as a woman’s genital tract. Its responsible for producing the lactic acid that aids digestion and protects your body from other microorganisms that are harmful.
  • Bifidobacteria – this bacterium, which is the first to appear in a baby’s gut, helps to boost your immune system but is also thought to ease IBS symptoms.
  • Christensenella – a lesser-known bacterium but equally important, as it helps to maintain gut balance. A recent study by Cornell University in New York and King’s College London found that slim people have higher levels of this bacterium, which suggests Christensenella bacteria may be key in managing your weight.

Prebiotics or friendly bacteria is found in foods such as bananas, onions or garlic.

How is good gut health linked to weight loss?

Recent research into gut health and weight loss has revealed that our gut microbes can alter how our bodies store fat. But there’s more; studies have also found that good gut bacteria has an impact on the way our bodies balance our glucose levels and the way we respond to our hunger and satiety signals.

Various studies looking into the link between weight loss and gut health have found that people who are overweight often have much less good bacteria in their guts compared to those who are slim or of moderate weight. In fact, there is evidence that suggests some types of gut bacteria are instrumental in weight management.

How to improve your gut health

There are several things you can do to significantly improve your gut health and give you the best opportunity of losing weight.

  • Probiotics have long been known to promote good gut health. The live microbes, when taken in sufficient quantities, can be beneficial to gut health, says the World Health Organization. Fermented foods that contain live probiotic bacteria, like yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir (a fermented milk drink), are a good source but are also found in plant and fiber-rich foods, such as onions, leeks, asparagus, oats, mushrooms and whole grains. Alternatively, you can opt for probiotic supplements, particularly those that contain different strains of good bacteria and are designed to aid weight loss. However, whilst there is scientific evidence that supports probiotics being of help for better gut health, there isn’t sufficient research that suggests they can directly help with weight loss as yet. That said, probiotics can help burn more calories, boost your metabolism, aid appetite suppression, reduce inflammation and increase the production of heat in your body (thermogenesis).
  • Abalanced diet is one of the best ways to improve your overall gut health but also a great way to help you lose weight. In the same way that cutting out foods that are high in fat, salt and refined sugar reduces your calorie intake, it also promotes a healthier gut. Choose foods that are high in fiber and naturally occurring probiotics, which will also help with digestion and balancing healthy bacteria in your gut. These gut-friendly foods include legumes and leafy greens, whole grains, like oats and barley, lean meats and fish, bananas and avocados, unpasteurised cheese, as well as live yogurt and kombucha (a fermented tea drink).
  • Drink your way to a healthy gut and digestive system too. There are a wide range of natural and herbal teas as well as naturally fermented drinks that are beneficial to your gut health and aid weight loss. These include lemongrass tea, chia fresca (made with chia seeds), water flavored with apple cider vinegar and honey, and an old favorite in chamomile and lavender tea.
  • Exercise is high on the list, and it not only helps improve your gut health, but is also a great of helping with weight loss. This doesn’t mean signing up with your local gym and working out seven days a week; that’s likely to have a detrimental impact, particularly if you are just starting out with exercise. The saying "a little bit often" really does make a difference. Get into the habit of doing regular exercise, like going for an energetic walk every day, or going to an exercise class several times a week – it can be at your gym, your local community center or even at home with an online class. Exercise increases blood flow to you muscles in your digestive system, thereby supporting healthy gut digestion. But it also significantly helps towards weight loss. The healthier your gut is, the better you will feel and the more able you will be to do a regular exercise routine.
  • Reducing stress levels is key to promoting better gut health. We all know that if we’re worried about something, we will feel it in our tummies. Some people may also suffer IBS, diarrhoea, or other digestive problems. It also has an impact on how our body stores fat, and it creates an imbalance between the good and harmful bacteria in our guts. Whichever way you choose, it’s important to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. This could be daily meditation, going to a weekly yoga class or taking up a new hobby that helps you to relax. In addition, make sure you are getting a full night’s sleep of at least seven hours. As well as reducing inflammation in your body, it also reduces how much cortisol your body produces – cortisol is a stress hormone that can negatively affect your gut health – all of which goes towards aiding weight loss.

Exercising regularly helps support your digestive system leading to a healthier gut.

Maintaining a healthy gut has a multitude of benefits, both directly and indirectly, including helping with weight loss. At Africa Imports, we have a wide range of supplements, teas and tonics that will help create a better balance of bacteria in your gut, and promote excellent gut health.