Have you heard the expression “go with your gut”? Our GUT is more powerful than we think and scientists are now referring to our gut as the “second brain”. The scientific community is discovering that if our microflora are not being properly attended to (i.e. by not eating enough plant fiber) than weight, digestion, and our immune system can go haywire. So for better or for worse, what we eat affects our gut bacteria and these changes can influence weight, digestion, and mood.
Why Is Our Gut Health So Important?Your intestines do more than move food through your system. They protect, absorb, produce vitamins, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, digest food and produce healing compounds. Plus, 60-80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Also by ingesting good bacteria we can prevent the intestinal permeability (leaky gut) that allows fragments of bad bacteria to escape into the bloodstream triggering an inflammatory response. (See earlier post on fighting inflammation.) While many conventional physicians still do not recognize leaky gut syndrome as a real condition, the evidence is accumulating that this is a real issue and needs to be addressed.
Bacteria and Appetite
There seems to be a “cross talk” between our brain and microbiota. The type of bacteria contained in our gut can influence neurochemicals that speak to the brain, including ones that affect appetite. When working with clients with belly issues or weight challenges, we always work on including pre/probiotics whether through supplementation or increasing plant fiber.
Let’s Talk Fat
Some studies demonstrate that a high fat diet can adversely affect your gut flora and promote inflammation thereby promoting weight gain. Not just any high fat but saturated fats and refined omega-6 that can be found in vegetable oils. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD for a reason) consumes a higher amounts of omega-6 fats vs omega-3’s (i.e. avocados, grass-fed butter and beef, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, and cold water fish). The type of fat we eat matters. Wrong fats promote inflammation and the growth of bad bugs in the gut. These bad bugs inhibit weight loss.
Good Fats → Good Bugs → Weight Loss
Ways to Grow a Healthy Inner Garden
1. Whole Foods| Cut out the processed foods.
2. Plant Based Diet | Try to follow a mostly plant based diet. The bacteria in your gut love to digest plant foods. Make them flourish! (If you eat meat make sure it is grass fed to get the higher levels of omega-3's in your diet.)
3. Healthy Fats| As mentioned previously, let’s focus on avocados, walnuts, and omega-3’s.
4. Fermented Foods | Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, and miso help your gut bacteria be fruitful and multiply.
5. Prebiotics | We tend to only discuss probiotics but let's not forget our prebiotics. These guys feed the probiotics and provide them nutrition to grow. Try focusing on apples, tubers, oatmeal basically functional fiber.
5. Stress-management| Anytime, I discuss weight management, digestion or nutrition issues with my clients, stress management is always at the center of intervention. If you read my previous post on fighting inflammation you already know a bit on how stress influences the inflammatory response in our system - leading to weight gain and other issues.
So, you may be asking yourself, do calories count? Yes, they still do. But by taking in high quality calories (meaning high fiber foods, healthy fats, plant based foods) this will lead to less calories consumed.
The bugs in our gut are diverse and must be in balance for you to be healthy. Having a healthy gut should mean more to you than be annoyed with bloating or constipation, it is central to your overall well-being. Your GI system is connected to everything that happens in your body. So, start taking note of your belly and how you feel - notice the inter-connectedness and embrace foods that will heal and support your microflora. If you have belly troubles, weight issues, and/or just not feeling your best, sign up for my 1:1 coaching and we can go in-depth on these topics. Silver Spoons Nutrition would love to hear how you feed your gut! Share with #SilverSpoonsNutrition on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter!