How a healthy gut can help you lose weight
Calories are crucial, but gut health is also essential for burning body fat
It's a simple scientific fact that burning more calories than you take in from food and drink will result in weight loss. However, when it comes to shedding some serious pounds, your gut holds the all-important key.
Why is your gut health important?
"When we don’t have enough of the right gut bacteria, our immune system may not behave as it should", says nutritionist Cassandra barns.
"An important step is having a healthy gut microbiome – the population of bacteria, yeasts and other organisms that live in our gut."
It is this microbiome and its contents that play such a pivotal role in your rate of fat loss. Barns states:
"As well as aiding digestion, the microbiome is thought to help teach the immune system the difference between friend and foe.
"They also help to keep the gut wall healthy, which may aid in preventing immune reactions by ensuring only the right foods are absorbed into the bloodstream."
The efficiency of your gut microbiome can be disrupted by many factors in a modern environment. These include:
- Poor diet – especially if high in processed foods or low in fibre
- Stress and lack of sleep
- Lack of friendly bacteria in our foods. Many traditional diets include fermented foods – a natural source of those good bacteria
How to create a healthy gut
Fermented food: an ever-present in diets of old, fermented food and drinks are now becoming popular again - and with good reason. Barns says drinking kombucha "can be a key way to maintain the healthy bacteria in our gut.
"In fact, some research suggests it is more effective than taking probiotic supplements for this purpose."
Sauerkraut also contains a similar nutritional profile and works well as an addition to your veg or side salad with any meal.
Get a pet: this may seem like a left-field suggestion, but being around animals could provide just the right amount of ‘germ exposure’ to help children develop a strong immune system. Dogs are also a whole load of fun, so there's that too.
Eat a varied diet
A varied diet is the simplest and most effective way to improve your gut health. Modern diets are only made up of a small number of ingredients - even those marketed as 'healthy' choices.
Fad diets such as Paleo and Atkins both involve cutting certain food groups out of your diet, but you need elements of everything in moderation. Protein, carbs and fat are all vital for a number of natural processes.
Improving the variety of your diet can be done in two easy ways, Barns says.
"Try breads made with different grains such as rye or spelt. Or veer away from wheat completely and fill up on oats instead.
"Oats are low-cost and versatile, and are also one of the best sources of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre you can find.
"Fruit and veg are high in fibre, which helps encourage the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Vitamin C and flavonoids such as quercetin in fruit and vegetables may also help manage or reduce allergic symptoms."
For more tips on losing weight, check out JOE's Ditch The Dad Bod series.