Have you ever heard of the microbiome? Well, by now you should have. Scientists have been delving into its complexity and its direct relationship with our health. The state of the microbiome can reveal our current health and is a blueprint for your future.
Unbeknown to humans this system has shaped us. It was only discovered in the first decade of the 21st century. We put a man on the moon before we scientifically discovered this ecosystem which exists within us all.
The microbiome is a complex ecosystem to which we begin to propagate when traveling through the birth canal. Before this, we are in a sterile environment that protected us from all bacteria. As soon as the amniotic fluid breaks, or is broken in some circumstances to induce labor, the bacteria begin to do its work. This bacteria is so vital in our beginning that, now when babies are born by cesarean section the hospitals take swabs from the mothers birth canal and apply it to the baby. This critical stage gets things going. When babies are born without going through the birth canal they miss this important step. The bacteria the mother has will be passed on to the baby. When the baby is put to the breast 5 days of colostrum is produced by the mother in order to coat the lining of the gut and to begin propagating this complex system which will determine the future of this child.
In fact, the lining of the gut has now been classified as an organ.
Later, when breast milk has been established, this will further feed the system. There is an innate intelligence in this bacteria, assisting the brain, immunity, and helping in the breakdown and absorption of our food.
You are what you eat is not as accurate as, you are what you can digest. The bacteria in your gut is critical in the synthesis. Bacteria, like all living things, eat and have waste. They eat what you eat, then convert this food to a bioavailable source, which in turn is our vitamins.
The greater the beneficial bacteria, the less space nonbeneficial bacteria and other organisms have to move in. The real estate they take up protects us.
The Link to Weight Loss
Now, how does this relate to weight loss? When our system is optimal we can process, digest, breakdown and eliminate our foods. This can eliminate cravings, bloating, and weight gain. The processing system when working optimally will tell us what we need.
Let me give you an example. If you are the type of person who is always craving complex carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice. That craving is coming from the bacteria that feed off those foods. They send a message to your brain that it is time to eat. This bacteria will then process the nutrient-poor foods, making more of this bacteria and creating an acidic environment which can have a myriad of other health consequences including creating an acidic body. With acidity, comes inflation and inflammation is the root of all disease.
Contrast this with a whole foods diet which includes a variety of fresh vegetables. Now you have someone who also has a craving for foods but these foods feed the bacteria which can then convert the essential vitamins and minerals we need for complex functions in the body. These vitamins are converted and when they are it creates an alkaline environment which allows the body to support other beneficial systems such as the immune system. Because these foods are a transport for our vitamins the cravings are curved because our body is getting what it needs.
What are the factors that can negatively affect the microbiome?
- Poor diet
- Poor quality water
- Personal Stress Levels
What can we do to support the health of the microbiome thereby leading to weight loss?
- Whole foods diet
- Clean water
- A diet which includes foods that are prebiotic and probiotic
- Taking probiotic supplements
- Active lifestyle including activities that do not stress the body but add movement such as walking, yoga, tai chi, chi gong etc.
- Healthy stress management and self-care regime
Whole Foods Diet
There is no shortage of information on best diets but all this can be quite confusing and many strict modes of thought leave one feel powerless and confused.
Michael Pollen said it best- "Eat food not too much mostly plants"
The simplicity of this statement is power filled. The action supports the microbiome. Focus on foods that are closest to its original state. When foods are altered, heated, preserved or desiccated we compromise its use for our bodies. Our bodies have a difficult time recognizing these foods since they are not balanced. This, in turn, leads to our imbalance.
Although tap water is regulated it still contains a myriad of chemicals that can affect the microbiome. Look for water that is reverse osmosis if possible. The reverse osmosis system takes out chemicals and medications that can be found in tap and bottled water. Bring your reusable water bottle wherever you go and set a reminder on your phone halfway through the day to indicate how many bottles you should have consumed by noon.
Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods
A prebiotic food is one that feeds the existing bacteria a probiotic food introduces more bacteria into your digestive system. Prebiotic foods include onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, asparagus, dandelion greens as well as pumpkin seeds. Probiotic foods are raw and fermented and include raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kimchi, pickles, kombucha to name a few.
Taking Probiotic Supplements
Take a good quality probiotic. Ask your local health food store to suggest one that is best for you.
Our bodies need movement. This circulation is important in many ways but when relating to weight loss it assists in digestion. It helps move things along. Our lifestyle of being sedentary after a meal is the worst thing we can do. Get up and move, particularly after dinner.
Healthy Stress Management and Self Care Regime
Stress can cause you to hold onto weight. When we are in distress our body will hold on and not allow proper digestion. We are in a state where the flight or fight response is dominant. Our bodies are reading a constant threat. To eat in a relaxed state gives the body the energy to properly break down our foods. Do this by taking time to prepare and cook. Making yourself conscious of the sights, and smells of food preparation. Make the environment about eating, lingering and taking time to enjoy. No physical or mental distractions. Take the time to sit, take a deep breath and be conscious. Chew your food properly and slow down the pace. This allows our digestive enzymes to do their work so we can assimilate the nutrients provided by our meals.
It takes 30 days to make or break a habit. Make one change, be consistent and you will see results. Then add another when it becomes a part of your everyday. These changes will make a huge impact on your overall health and support weight loss.
Wishing you happy trails on your continued steps towards greater health.