The Gut Microbiome and Weight Loss
The body has a number of gut bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which are collectively known as the gut microbiome.
Gut bacteria play several important roles in health such as communicating with the immune system and producing certain vitamins. They also affect how the food gets digested and produce chemicals that help in keeping full. This plays a role in weight loss and affects the overall health of a person.
There are researches that show how the gut microbiome plays a role in an individual’s likelihood of obesity. It is also believed that the gut microbiome can significantly influence the overall well-being of an individual.
However lesser is known about the impact of weight loss on the gut microbiome. There are studies that show the relationship between weight loss and changes in the gut microbiome. This may lead to beneficial effects on metabolism, inflammation, and other health aspects.
How Weight Loss Affects the Gut Microbiome?
Obesity is a cause of many health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and a certain type of cancers. Losing weight through diet and exercise can be a major step toward treating obesity.
Studies show that weight loss can bring about changes in the gut microbiome, which may contribute to the health benefits associated with weight loss.(1) It was found that people who lost weight with diet and exercise had an increased level of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. This change in the gut metabolism was associated with improved glucose metabolism that reduced inflammation. Both of these factors are associated with obesity-related diseases.
One more study was done in 2016 and published in the journal, Surgery for Obesity and Related Disease. It found that the weight loss surgery led to changes in the gut microbiome that were associated with improved glucose control and reduced inflammation.(2) In this study, there were a group of individuals who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. It was also observed that this surgery led to a decrease in the abundance of Firmicutes and an increase in the Bacteroidetes. These are the 2 groups of bacteria that are involved in energy metabolism.
Not all weight loss methods have the same effects. A study found that bariatric surgery causes a greater decline in the diversity of gut bacteria as compared to weight loss with lifestyle changes.(3)
Weight loss can affect the gut microbiome significantly. Changes in the gut microbiome can have positive as well as negative effects on the health of an individual. Also, targeting the gut microbiome can affect the weight loss journey of an individual with obesity. However, more research on the effect of weight loss on the gut microbiome is needed. A person should always look ahead to keep the gut healthy whether trying to lose weight or not as it is important for a person’s overall health.
How to Support the Gut Microbiome During Weight Loss Journey?
There are several ways in which gut microbiome can be supported during weight loss. These include:
- Including a variety of nutrient-dense and high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These help in promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
- Add foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi into the diet. These are the foods that are rich in probiotics, and healthy bacteria promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
- Avoid processed and high-sugar foods that disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut leading to inflammation.
- Including probiotic supplements that can repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria.
- Getting enough sleep and managing stress. This can have a positive effect on gut health.
- Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity that can support a healthy gut microbiome.
Eating right can help in losing weight and managing the negative effects that come with various weight loss interventions. The best diet is the one that suits the type of gut microbiome of an individual as it too has a role in the weight loss journey of an individual.