(Note: Please read about healthism as well to keep everything in perspective.)
This week, I discussed how sugar consumption and sweeteners have led to the Fed Up movement on my homepage.
However, obesity isn’t only related to our sweet tooth. Other factors such as stress, hormones, toxin exposure, emotions and genetics all play a role. Furthermore, a surprising factor, the population of bacteria and microbes in our guts also impacts our weight.
Last week, I discussed how our belly bugs, known as our microbiome, assist with our digestion and have a variety of health functions including:
Unhealthy flora can create mycotoxins from yeast or the beta-glucoridinase enzyme which prevents removal of estrogens out of our body and into the stool. On the other hand, happy bugs help remove unwanted hormones.
Our microbiome interacts with our gut lymphoid tissue (GALT) and aids in the production of secretary IgA (sIgA) which protects the gut lining and promotes the production of antimicrobial bacterocins.
·Inflammatory regulation through their production of cytokines (inflammatory signals).
·Production of vitamins that include a variety of B vitamins, vitamin K, and modulation of other vitamins’ absorption.
·Mood regulation-your gut has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system which is involved in production of brain-signaling chemicals.
·A possible connection in regulating gluten and immune-activating food responses.
Our Gut Bugs and Metabolism
Various studies have shown that the ratios of gut bacteria present in our intestines have an effect on our waist line. Specifically, it is believed that a decrease in the species of Firmicutes and an increase in Bacteriodetes is in part responsible for the weight slimming effects of gastric bypass.
Furthermore, a healthy microbiome population modulates the release of Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in response to carbohydrates, fats, or proteins in the small intestine. This hormone regulates insulin production and effects satiety (fullness) signals. It has also been suggested that toxins from an unfavorable overgrowth of gram negative bacteria in one’s gut known as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) negatively impacts insulin secretion and increases obesity risk.
Now, newer studies suggest feeding our bugs good food via prebiotics (non-digestible fibers found in foods such as garlic and artichokes) may further prevent weight gain and protect the lining of our GI tract. In a recent study, the breakdown of fermentable carbohydrates was analyzed in mice’s colonic microbiota by using the end product of the short chain fatty acid, acetate. The researchers reported that acetate levels were associated with reductions in food intake, body weight, and adiposity. Furthermore, the researchers suggested that colonic microbiota may directly impact satiety signals via signaling the hypothalamus by a feedback mechanism of acetate levels to the brain. However, this study has been met with skepticism. According to an article in Scientific American,
William Colmers, an electrophysiologist who studies the effect of neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, says he thinks that the experimental work is solid, but worries that the results have been over-interpreted. “Much of it is extremely speculative,” he says. For onething, the dietary fiber levels were around 11%. At that level, “the room would be full of mouse farts”, he says, so the animals may simply have been eating
less because they were uncomfortable.
Colmers also believes this hypothesis is too simplistic in that the regulation of the appetite is more complex and can’t be fully understood by a single change in the diet alone.
Another recent study reported on a different mechanism of how gut bacteria regulate weight gain and cholesterol levels in their human hosts. Researchers at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in University College Cork demonstrated that a bacterial protein modified bile acids (a major component of bile
secretions that helps with fat digestion). It did this by impacting the gut enzyme bile salt hydrolase thereby having a positive effect on weight control.
5 Simple Ways to Have a Healthy Microbiome
1. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, and eat as much organic as possible to prevent damage to our little friends from pesticides, hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics.
2. Decrease stress to make them thrive in a happy environment.
3. Eat fermented foods and consider a probiotic and digestive enzyme supplement.
4. Move your body and stay hydrated to help keep things “moving out.”
5. Cut out the sugar and deal with the emotional withdrawal if you are addicted with a supportive community of friends and loved ones (see my homepage blog).
Adlercreutz H, Pulkkinen MO, Hämäläinen EK, Korpela JT. Studies on the role of intestinal bacteria in metabolism of synthetic and natural steroid hormones (abstract). J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Jan;20(1):217-29.
Yurkovetskiy, L. Burrows, M. Khan, AA, Graham, LVolchkov, P, Becker, L, Antonopoulos, D, Umeski, Y, Chervonsky, A. Gender Bias in Autoimmunity Is Influenced by Microbiota. Immunity. 39(2):22. August
2013; 400-412. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2013.08.013
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding. Science Daily. May 14, 2014.
Fost, G, Sleeth, M, Sahuri-Arisoylu, M, Lizarbe, B, Cerdan, S., Brody, L, et al. The short-chain fatty acid acetate reducesappetite via a central homeostatic mechanism. Nature Communications. 5; 3611.
Musso, G, Gambino, R, Cassander, M. Obesity, Diabetes, and Gut Microbiota: The hygiene hypothesis expanded? Diabetes Care. 33(10): 2277-2284.October 2010. ?doi: 10.2337/dc10-0556
Owns, B. Dietary Fiber Acts on Brain to Suppress Appetite: A study suggests that brain activity, not gut hormones, account for fiber’s weight-control action. Scientific American. Apr 30, 2014.