Gut bacteria seems to be a jukebox which can enable/disable well-being of human health. Human body houses trillions of bacteria, virus and fungi each of them dancing to their own music and having a gala time within each of us! Of the lot, majority of them reside inside the intestine. Some years back, if someone had blamed the gut bacteria for his/her inability to lose weight we would have looked upon that person as a weird creature who loves to shift the blame on others. But now, it’s high time that we realize what we know about gut bacteria is just a drop in the ocean.
It’s been more than a century and we are aware that bacteria live in our intestine, but little were we aware of their strong impact on our health. Scientists and researchers ignored these specimen as they assumed them to simply take advantage of our warmth and nutrients in our gut. Nature is a perfect planner and nothing in nature exists the way it is without strong reasons behind it. As time progressed, scientists deciphered vital information about genes in our gut bacteria that paves the possibility for various implications. In fact, our gut bacteria have 250 to 800 times more genes than we have human genes and they make substances that gel into the human bloodstream and affect body chemistry. This itself strongly indicates that human gut bacteria are important players in structural well-being of individuals.
‘What All’ to ‘What Not’
Similar bones, muscles, tissues, skin and skeletal framework but ‘n’ different faces, features, body physiques, health conditions and wellness quotients are what makes each of us unique in this earth. Similarly, a healthy gut flora for one person may not suit yet another person in the same terms. Growing body of evidences suggest that our gut flora can affect our metabolism and is strongly linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
An average human weighing around 70 kilograms has about 40 trillion bacterial cells and only about 30 trillion human cells. Most of these bacteria occupy major portions of the large intestine called the cecum and discharge duties that keep your body healthy while only a small portion of them cause diseases. They regulate the way in which we digest our food, aid in producing chemicals that make us feel full and hence, play a strong role in influencing body weight. Abundant information on gut bacteria and how exercising can promote a healthy gut is available at the website www.firsteatright.com.
Beyond Diet & Exercise
We are certainly aware that some people don’t lose weight as effectively as others despite consuming less calories and working out more. When researchers analyzed whether there are any other factors vital for weight loss determination apart from diet and exercise, they came across human gut bacteria and its impact on weight loss.
Gut bacteria break down food particles and provide us with energy to perform our activities which is good for us. In certain cases, the researchers wondered if the increase in functions performed by the gut bacteria to provide people with more energy might be the key reason behind an individual’s inability to lose weight. When the research team collected and analyzed gut bacteria of 26 participants, they found significant differences in gut bacteria between individuals who did not lose weight and those who did lose weight. The presence of a certain type of bacteria promoted weight loss while the presence of another type of bacteria curbed weight loss. All the more, when an individual used more carbohydrates, he/she lost less weight. Although a small study, this gives us a definite idea about gut bacteria and its impact on weight loss.
Yet another study analyzed blood plasma and stool samples of 674 participants and deciphered that 19 different metabolites might affect a person’s BMI. Obesity-linked metabolites were related to four different intestinal bacteria and the most prominent of these metabolites were glutamate and BCAA. The difference in glutamate and BCAA levels were responsible for differences in BMI. The study proved that metabolites and gut bacteria interact with each other rather than being independent of each other.
Small Vs Big
Any food that we eat is broken up into small chunks. Only the smallest of these are absorbed into our blood and the rest is flushed out as waste. This is equivalent to saying that not all food that we eat is converted as calories and stored inside the body. The gut bacteria break down food and some of them are so well-versed that they break food into smallest of the pieces that get digested, add calories to our body and finally, increase body weight. In theory, if our gut has more of these bacteria it should be harder to lose weight. While some are doubtful about this, some groups of scientists and researchers have proved it on animals. We are slowly understanding the role of gut bacteria in obesity. Although we are not anywhere near any treatments that will make an individual lose weight easily, the days are not far off.
Food for the Gut
Improve the quality of your gut bacteria by eating more of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fermented foods and probiotics and consuming decreased quantity of sugary foods, artificial sweeteners and foods that contain unhealthy fats. All these assures you of a healthy gut which in turn affects the way in which food is digested, fat is stored and how frequent you feel hungry or full. Overall, a healthy gut is needed for maintaining a healthy weight.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.