The Human Genome and Microbiome
If you've tried dieting and exercise in an attempt to burn stubborn fat with no results, you're not alone.
Carrying excess weight is common. Over 73 percent of the population is considered overweight or obese. Why is this? The human body is more incredible and complicated than we realize. There's more to weight loss and health than diet and exercise alone.
One crucial and often overlooked factor to consider is your gut microbiome. When your gut biome is unbalanced, so is the rest of you.
It's a particularly common problem during peri/menopause as changes to estrogen levels disrupt the balance of your gut biome.
Let's take a look at the gut microbiome, how it contributes to weight gain and your overall health, and how you can achieve a healthy gut.
The Connection Between Gut Microbiome and Overall Health
The diverse bacteria in your gut is a good thing. It's crucial to building an immune system, digestion, absorbing vitamins and minerals, and hormone regulation.
When your gut bacteria become unbalanced, your health pays the price. An unhealthy gut struggles to absorb essential nutrients, regulate hormones, and keep your blood sugar level. When this happens, the result is health complications. If your unhealthy gut biome stays untreated, it could potentially lead to more severe problems, like diabetes and heart disease.Can an Unhealthy Gut Cause Weight Gain?
Since the gut biome plays a huge role in food digestion and hormone regulation, an unbalanced gut often leads to weight gain, as your food isn't digested and your body stores excess fat. In addition, critical hunger-controlling hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are thrown off balance. When this happens, you feel hungry more often and your body loses the ability to tell you when you're full.
How do you know if your gut biome is off-balanced? Some symptoms you can watch for include:
- Upset stomach
- Trouble sleeping
- Gas, bloating, nausea, or stomach pain after eating certain foods
- Sugar cravings
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
If you notice these problems, it's time to take measures to improve your gut microbiome.
How to Get a Healthy Gut
It only takes a few diet and lifestyle changes to begin fixing your gut health. Here are some things you can do.
Exercise does more than burn calories. It has also been shown to increase the diversity of bacteria in your gut. Exercise stimulates good bacteria that produce substances in your body that prevent GI disorders and colon cancer.
Avoid Certain Medications
Some medications kill good gut bacteria, causing an imbalance in the gut. Antibiotics, for example, are prescribed for bacterial infections and designed to kill harmful bacteria. But unfortunately, killing the bad also kills the good. It's a good idea to confirm a bacterial infection before taking an antibiotic, and only take as prescribed.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, also mess up gut microbiome balance. Common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib. It's best to avoid these medications when possible and look for other solutions to ease your pain.
Of course, check with your doctor before stopping any medication.
Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are loaded with healthy bacteria, so eating them helps restore the balance of bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods include cultured yogurt and milk, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
When avoiding sugar, many people turn to artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners are one of the most commonly consumed foods and are generally considered safe since they are low in calories. But in reality, they might alter your gut microbiome.
Consider Probiotic Supplements
Prebiotics and probiotics are crucial components to gut health.
Probiotics are good bacteria living in the gut that comes from the fermented foods mentioned earlier. If you're not getting enough of them in your diet, you might want to consider a supplement.
Prebiotics play an essential role in gut health as well. Prebiotics act like "food" for probiotics, so you need to get prebiotics in your diet, too, in order for your gut health to thrive.
Some high-fiber foods contain prebiotics. However, not all nutritional fibers are prebiotics, so you might want to consider a supplement to ensure you are getting enough.
To help weight loss, aim for about 30 grams of fiber per day. Not only will sufficient fiber help you shed pounds, but it also helps lower blood pressure and improve your insulin response.
Some high-fiber foods include avocados, apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli, beets, and brussel sprouts. Bonus points if you eat fiber-containing prebiotics.
Improving Your Gut Microbiome
A proper balance of bacteria in your gut is crucial to your health. But you don't have to suffer the consequences of an unbalanced microbiome. Diet and lifestyle changes can help rebalance your gut and improve your overall health.
If you need help balancing your gut, MenoLabs is here. Our doctor-formulated Happy Fiber™ supplement offers an easy solution to getting the prebiotic fiber you need to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy gut.