When we’re eating healthy, exercising, and taking the right nutrients but can’t seem to lose weight, there might be another factor at play.

The problem could lie with the gut.

The trillions of bacteria in our gut that work together are called the microbiome. This microbiome may be out of balance.

Your gut health is closely linked to your overall health and weight.

According to gut-health dietitian and fitness model, Rhoda Lucas, everything starts in your gut. She says that problems like headaches, migraines, allergies, autoimmunity, weight gain, acne, skin rashes, yeast infections, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, and even the way you sense pain are all related to the condition and health of your gut.

Gut problems can show up in so many ways.

Gut problems can lead to a variety of issues including indigestion, bloating, gas, and cramping. These issues can then lead to weight loss resistance.

We’re still learning how the microbiome impacts weight. What we’ve found is that the microbiome can determine things like:

  • How you store fat
  • How much of the hunger hormone ghrelin you produce
  • Your ability to lose weight

The most important thing to remember when it comes to the trillions of bacteria in your body is that you want a diverse range of bacteria, as this will ensure that your body functions properly.

If the bad bacteria takes over the good bacteria, or there is a lack of diversity, it is called dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis rarely results from just one culprit. Instead, multiple factors play a role, including: 

  • Inflammatory foods
  • Too much sugar
  • Toxins
  • Stress
  • Antibiotics

Eventually, these offenders can go on to create other problems in the gut and beyond, including a condition where the intestines allow harmful substances to enter the bloodstream.

Rhoda says that taking antibiotics, eating certain foods, and being exposed to toxins can damage the gut and cause dysbiosis.

What We Know So Far About Gut Bacteria

Between 1000 and 1500 different types of bacteria have been found in the digestive tracts of people. This mixture of different types of bacteria is called the gut microbiota.

The state of our gut microbiota appears to be linked to a variety of other health issues, including general immunity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bloating, and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease. Additionally, our gut health affects the stiffness of arteries in heart disease, as well as skin conditions, kidney disease, and even mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

We now believe that the gut microbiota can affect almost every organ in the body, and it is very important for the body’s immune system, says Australian dietitian Rhoda Lucas.

Although it is still early, scientists are investigating whether improving the gut microbes can also improve the health of other organs. This is a promising area of research, particularly when it comes to mental health.

The intestine is 9 meters long and very important to our immunity because 70 percent of our immune system lies within it. We also know the microbiota produces molecules that get into our blood and can communicate with our brains and other organs.

Speed-Heal Your Gut: Start with Your Fork 

The great news is that you can quickly heal your gut.

The first step is to identify which foods are causing problems and then stop eating them.

We’re talking about the foods that are causing trouble, which are the ones that you have a high intolerance to and that create inflammation in your body.

There are a variety of foods that people may be sensitive to. These include, but are not limited to, gluten, dairy, peanuts, eggs, soy, corn, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

Intolerances to certain foods can cause inflammation in your gut and make it more permeable. This can lead to your body retaining more water and appearing heavier than normal.

Figuring out if you have any food intolerances can be helped by swapping them out.

To heal your gut quickly, you should avoid problem foods and focus on these 10 strategies.

Bump Up Your Fiber 

Certain high-fiber foods contain prebiotics, which are beneficial for the ‘good’ bacteria that live in your gut. Foods that contain these prebiotics include beans, legumes, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts.

“Fibre is a Holy Grail nutrient,” Rhoda Lucas says.

“If you eat more, it will improve your overall health, including your heart.”

The current guidelines recommend that we should be eating 30 grams of fiber a day, but most of us are only eating around 19 grams. We believe that we should be aiming even higher. Gradually increase the amount you eat to give your body time to adjust to it.

Fiber is important for digestion, removing waste from the body, supporting gut bacteria, and keeping you full.

The goal is to get 50 grams of fiber into your diet each day.

You should not increase your fiber intake all at once, but rather start slowly and increase by 5 grams a day, and be sure to also drink enough water.

Choose foods like vegetables, avocado, nuts, and seeds to get more fiber.

Focus on foods that contain prebiotics, which is a type of fiber that nourishes good bacteria. Onions, garlic, and artichokes are all good sources of prebiotics.

If you aren’t eating certain foods regularly, it can be tough to get enough fiber from your diet.

Eat More Healthy Fats

The low-fat fad in the 80s and 90s was detrimental to our gut (and other things).

As we learn more about gut health, we realize how important it is to consume the right fats to reduce inflammation and heal the gastrointestinal tract.

Not all fats are good for gut healing.

If you’re looking for a way to help with gut inflammation, one of my favorite things to do is add unsweetened coconut milk to my smoothies. The fat in coconut milk, called caprylic acid, can help to reduce inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids create more bacterial diversity in the gut, healing it in the process.

Bring In Fermented Foods

The process of fermentation involves using bacteria or yeast in order to create foods such as yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. These foods generally contain a large variety of different types of bacteria, which is thought to be beneficial for the gut microbiome.

There is more scientific evidence to support the health benefits of kefir than any other fermented food. Kefir contains around 20 different types of bacteria and yeast, which is much greater diversity than yogurt. You can now buy kits that come with the kefir grain, which you add to milk and let ferment for a few hours before it’s ready to drink.

Fermented foods are becoming increasingly popular for their health benefits. Some of the most popular fermented foods include kimchi, a type of Korean pickled cabbage, and sauerkraut. Fermented foods are believed to offer a variety of health benefits including improved digestion and a stronger immune system.

Foods like kimchi, pickles, and fermented veggies are good for you because they contain probiotics or beneficial bacteria.

Sip on Bone Broth

Bone broth is beneficial because it provides collagen and gelatin. This helps promote a healthy digestive system by reducing inflammation.

Take the Right Supplements

In addition to other supplements, you’ll want to take a quality digestive enzyme to help break down food and support gut healing.

Digestive enzymes and botanicals can help with the digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, including difficult to digest proteins like gluten.

Among them include: 

  • L-glutamine: an essential amino acid huge for protecting the integrity of the gut and supporting the immune system, especially if you’re under stress
  • DGL: a form of licorice that supports stress hormones and digestive health
  • Slippery Elm and Marshmallow: Plants that can help support your stomach lining
  • Chamomile: Reduces inflammation
  • Quercetin; An antioxidant that also cools inflammation

Think Diversity, Not ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ Bacteria

Don’t restrict yourself to only a few plant-based foods – aim to eat a variety.

I recommend that people aim to eat 30 different plant-based foods per week in order to maintain a strong microbial diversity. This includes different types of nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and fruit and vegetables. Research suggests that if you eat fewer than 10 plant-based foods per week, your microbial diversity will be weak. To keep your diversity strong, vary the types of plant-based foods you eat from week to week, and always be open to trying new foods.

Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Although artificial sweeteners may help you reduce your kilojoule intake, you should weigh this against the potentially negative effects of these sweeteners on your gut microbiome.

According to some animal studies, artificial sweeteners may not be good for your health if you consume them in large quantities.

It depends on several things whether it is better to have sugar or sweeteners, including your weight and medical history. It is about balance. It is all right to have a small 30g chocolate bar once in a while, but it is not a good idea to have a big bag of sweets regularly.

Always Buy ‘Live’ Yogurt

These are the probiotics that can have a positive impact on our gut health. Although there are a lot of yogurt types on the market, not all of them contain beneficial gut bacteria. According to Rhoda Lucas, you should look for tubs with labels that say they contain live cultures, as these are the probiotics that can have a positive impact on our gut health.

Take Probiotics Only After Antibiotics or if You Have IBS

There is no evidence that taking a probiotic supplement offers health benefits to healthy people. However, studies show that specific strains of bacteria can help treat certain conditions.

According to Rhoda Lucas, a strain of yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by 50 percent for people taking antibiotics. Diarrhea affects around one-third of people taking antibiotics.

Interestingly, researchers also recommend that you take probiotics with a meal, which makes sense because you’re more likely to have a meal that has some fat in it, which the probiotic needs for absorption. If a specific probiotic is needed for the desired effect, and that it is best taken with a meal that contains some fat.

There is evidence that probiotic supplements are effective in treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, this evidence comes from only one study, so it is not certain that these products would work for everyone with IBS. When researchers have looked at the results of all studies together, they have found that probiotics can reduce IBS symptoms by around 20 percent.

 

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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

Learn More About Elegant Eating and How to Get Started

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