You are what you eat. An intact intestinal flora doesn’t only keep your mind sharp, it also helps you lose weight. Scientists have already found out that our brain can talk to the gastrointestinal flora, and as a result also control our eating behavior. Alugha talked to nutritionist Anna Kemper about this topic.
Approximately one-hundred billion bacteria live in our body. That’s 10 times as much as the amount of cells in our entire body. Most of these bacteria live in our gastrointestinal tract. They play a central role in immune defense, they protect us from germs and help us lose weight with the right diet.
In addition to fighting off germs, our gut bacteria also utilize the food we consume and help us digest. Thus, they can influence our body weight because there are gut bacteria (e.g. Firmicutes) that are specialized in extracting more energy, so more calories, from the food. Eventually, this energy will be converted to body fat. “So if you have the wrong bacteria in your gut it might happen that you gain weight more quickly or that it’s harder for you to lose weight than someone who mainly has good bacteria in their gut,” explains Anna Kemper.
There is a nerve that links our gastrointestinal tract to our brain. The so called vagus nerve. Scientists found out that our gut bacteria influence this nerve, and as a result can control our eating behavior. For example, there are bacteria (classes of Firmicutes) that primarily live on food containing sugar and fat.
By releasing hormones, they make us eat more of such food. Other bacteria are suspected of manipulating our taste buds in such a way that we think sugary and fatty food tastes even better, making us eat more of it.
The more bad bacteria there are in the gut, the more they can influence our eating behavior by controlling our nervous system, making us eat mainly food that contains a lot of sugar and fat. The more we eat such food, the better these bad bacteria can multiply, replacing the good bacteria in the long run.
This can make it hard to lose weight, because the bad gut bacteria constantly suggest to us via our nervous system that we should eat food containing fat and sugar. However, there are also gut bacteria that persistently release contaminants into our bloodstream. “These contaminants are even suspected of triggering disease such as arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's,” explains Kemper.
You can best fight unhealthy gut bacteria with healthy food. You should primarily eat many dietary fibers such as fruit and vegetables. Lactobacilli, which we know from probiotic food such as yoghurt, also reduce the production of hormones that drive hunger (AgRP and neuropeptide Y), suppressing our appetite.
Thus, the good bacteria such as bifidobacteria and bacteroidetes can multiply. They extract fewer calories from our food and protect us from developing fat pads. You can actually lose weight easily with the right gut flora.
You’ll find detailed information on bowel cleanse here.
Anna Kemper studied Biology at the University of Bremen and at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. She is a personal trainer and a nutritionist. Additionally, she won the German championship in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 2015 and she is a writer for the fitness and diet magazine Aesir Sports.
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