The gut harbors trillions of microbes that support many critical functions throughout the body (Fig. 1.). These microorganisms collectively are called The Gut Microbiome and are mainly bacteria but are also known to contain yeasts and even viruses. There are many ways that an imbalanced gut ecosystem can cause stubborn weight gain. Bacteria from the firmicutes phyla of bacteria extract short chain fatty acids from dietary fiber at higher rates than other gut microbes.
The result is the person harboring more of these microbes gains an extra 150 calories daily. An imbalanced gut ecosystem can ignite inflammation throughout the body that slows down the body’s metabolism, induces insulin resistance and leads to fat accumulation. Gut-derived-inflammation when reaching the brain causes resistance to the gut-derived hormone leptin which functions to turn off appetite. This resistance leptin results in a constant state of hunger and a lack of satiation from food leading to a high consumption of food. Finally, ecological imbalances in the gut resulting in intestinal inflammation which breaks down the “glue” that holds the gut lining cells together permitting toxins to enter the bloodstream which provokes a vigorous inflammatory response. Some call the bacterial breakdown process of these barrier proteins “leaky gut.”
Harmony and balance in the gut microbiome are crucial to normalizing metabolism and body weight. The dietary approach to resetting the gut microbiome and promoting weight loss. First, the restriction of carbohydrates that provoke digestive discomfort and gut microbial imbalance-also known as dysbiosis.
Imbalances in the gut microbiota is a common thread to those listed as dysbiosis of the gut ecosystem leads to systemic inflammation resulting in blunted satiety signaling, increased appetite and impulsivity to food cues and enteric hormone dysregulation which causes insulin resistance and further dampens satiation.
The gut microbiome is repopulated by providing fermentable foods that contain abundant friendly flora. Examples of fermentable foods include kefir, yogurt, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and much more. I also encourage the fertilization of the healthy gut flora with fibrous foods that promote the proliferation of constitutive gut microbes. Maintenance is one of the most challenging areas of weight loss medicine. The Mediterranean diet has many scientific studies showing positive health benefits and weight maintenance is often successful.
The acronym FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols), includes poorly absorbed sugars (lactose, fructose), fructans (wheat) and xylitol or sorbitol-sweetened products which drive ecological imbalances in the gut and produce abdominal discomfort. While cutting down on sugary carbs, raise the intake of proteins and fats from anti-inflammatory sources. Favoring fats high in omega-3 fatty acid content (i.e. fatty fish) and lean and clean protein source such as wild salmon or cod, organic eggs, grass-fed sourced whey protein, and others. Over the course time, the body’s metabolism will improve as the gut microbiome rebalances. Many report weight losses of 15-20 pounds during this phase depending upon entry body weight and morphology.
The Gut Microbiome and Obesity.
John GK, Mullin GE
Curr Oncol Rep. 2016 Jul