Can you believe you can lose weight by improving your gut health?
First off, let me take you back to a famous quote by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
While this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows your gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than previously thought. I’m not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. It can even play a role in all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.
There are many different reasons for this. See, your gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where you take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. You also take in nutrients (and toxins) through your gut. The nutrients you ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of your body.
Only recently has it been revealed there’s a connection between your gut and other areas of your body, like your brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”?). Not just your gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. It’s also been recently discovered that these little guys have roles in your gut health and overall health.
So, let’s talk about the roles your gut and gut microbes play in your overall health and how you may can lose weight by improving your gut health. After that, I’ll give you tips on how to go about doing it naturally.
The Gut’s Role in Health
Your gut’s main
This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And there can be a break down in so many places.
For one thing, your gut can “leak.” Imagine water flowing through a dry-rotted water hose. Some of that water is going to leak out. It’s the same with your gut. Your gut can allow things to leak into your bloodstream/body that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins).
You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens it causes inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.
FUN FACT: About 70% of your immune system lives in and around your gut.
Now you know a healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.
So, let’s move on to the second role of your gut health where we’ll talk about the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes make it possible to digest and absorb nutrients. They also fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.
So make sure you keep your gut microbes happy and you’ll achieve the second pillar of gut health!
Gut Health & Weight Loss
Since you know a little about how the gut needs to keep things in and not let them leak out, let’s touch on losing weight by improving your gut health. (BTW: you’ll also be improving you quality of life.)
So, how can there be a connection?
As you can imagine, leaky gut can lead to constant inflammation, but did you know it’s also linked to insulin resistance? This can lead to an increase in fat deposits & also an imbalance in gut flora. This all causes poor carbohydrate metabolism which leads to weight gain.
With the increase in fat cells that are being created, you have an increase in the amount of leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full). But if your levels are always high, your body becomes resistant to the signal it’s receiving & you may feel hungry, even if you just ate.
Leptin also sends a signal of reward when you eat. So, you will continue to eat (building more fat cells & producing more leptin) and feel rewarded, but you’re brain isn’t getting the signal. This creates a cycle & you will continue to eat & gain weight.
Something else that adds to an unhealthy gut is lack of sleep and chronic stress. So, make sure you’re catching enough quality zzz’s (you can read about the sleep & weight gain connection HERE ) and taking steps to reduce your stress (check out 7 tips HERE).
Improving Gut Health
If you have a leaky/unhealthy gut, you’ll need to make some improvements. So, let’s talk about how to lose weight by improving your gut health. In case you didn’t know, there are a lot of natural ways you can go about improving your gut health.
First things first. I want to go over what you should stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so stop giving your gut junk to deal with. You can start by eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol. Try it for a few weeks and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.
You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health, but if your gut is in bad shape you may need to eliminate them for longer or even permanently.
SIDE NOTE: Did you know dairy is one of the top 8 food allergens & is also in the top food sensitivities?
By eating nutrient-dense foods, you also allow lots of nutrients into your gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help your body build and repair your gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver (don’t gag on me), and fish.
Remember the second pillar of gut health is paying attention to your gut microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, you can help replenish your gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These should become part of your daily diet. 😉
Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in your gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps feed your friendly resident microbes that help you absorb and digest your food better. Plus, fiber is a super-important component of weight loss. What foods do I recommend to increase your fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even raw cacao.
Don’t forget that lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you play a big part too. It’s easy to forget some of the simple things, but there are links between what you do with your body and how well it functions.
To wrap it all up.
The function of your gut is key to your overall health.
There are two pillars of gut health:
- Maintaining a good barrier
- Supporting and maintaining healthy gut microbes.
- Bonus: You can lose weight by improving your gut health.
The main ways to improve your gut health naturally
- Eat nutrient-dense whole foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber.
- Eliminate common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol to reap the rewards even quicker.
Now for the recipe I promised.
Probiotic-rich food that is super simple to make & can be ready in just a few days.
- 32 oz Hot Water almost to boiling
- 4 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
- 4 Medium Carrots Peeled & Sliced
- 1 Clove Garlic Smashed (optional)
- Fresh Dill Sprigs (or dried) Optional
Make a brine by dissolving the salt in hot water. (You may need to heat the solution on the stovetop.) Let the water cool to body or room temperature.
Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight! Make sure to leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top.
Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don’t float (you can use a “fermenting weight”, but they should not float if you pack them in tight).
Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. (The temp of your house can affect how quickly the vegetables ferment. Cooler temps need longer.) The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.
- Place a plate under the jar just in case of spillage
- Eat 2-3 a few times per day before your meal.
- Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.
- You can also eat the “pickled” garlic…it won’t be as potent for your breath as fresh garlic. lol