The bacteria that keeps us skinny!
As many of you know I am 10 surgeries in and a year and three months away from the accident that almost cost me my life. Six weeks ago I walked into the hospital for surgery number 9 and 10 on both my feet. Two weeks later and 24 IV’s of antibiotics and I left the hospital three kilos heavier, sluggish and totally depressed. Now there was no way I could avoid the antibiotics, the risk was too great. Either I sucked it up and killed all the bacteria on my body or I potentially risked loosing both my feet, thats serious! So when I left the hospital i started researching why the genocide of my previous bacterial colony changed my weight and mood so drastically in such a short period of time. (The little scientist in me is forever alive and beating …. so I set out to find out)
In the last few years the scientific community has started to explore the previously unexplored ecology that resides in our gut and have discovered information that is key to our health longevity and weight loss or weight management.
Bacteria, why is it important?
Our whole environment including the surface of our skin, plants, animals and the surfaces of our homes are also the home to hundreds and thousands are different bacterial strains. It is said that for every human cell that exits as part of our body there are 10 times the number of bacterial cells which all play crucial roles in our health. Some bacteria are not very good for us like some strains of E.coli and Salmonella, whilst other strains of bacteria play crucial roles in our digestive tract. We literally have another organ in the form of a “bacterial colony’ that lives within our colon. This colony and the ratio of the various different bacterias either contributes to weight loss or weight gain. When we are over exposed to antibiotics, antibacterial cleaning products and pesticides in our food supply we damage this colony and therefore change the very sensitive relationship we have with our bodies ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.
The bacteria that keeps us skinny!
In a 2004 study Dr Jeff Gordon transferred gut microbes from a group of mice and transfer them into the gut of microbe free mice. The results showed an increase in body weight of the previously microbe free mice as well as increases in body fat accumulation and insulin resistance within two weeks. This was the first scientific indication that gut microbes may potentially play a crucial role in weight management and digestive health.
Theses results led to further studies where ‘skinny bacteria’ (Bacteroides) were transferred into normal mice these mice subsequently lost weight. ‘Fat bacteria’ (Firmicutes) were also transferred into normal mice and those mice subsequently gained weight.
Further studies then used human twins with discordant gut microbe; One twin presented with more ‘skinny’ bacteria and the other with more ‘fat’ bacteria. The bacteria morphology also correlated to their weight. The bacteria from each twin was transplanted to a germ free mouse and as predicted the mouse presented with that particular twins body composition.
These results suggest that our bacterial ecology play a crucial role in weight management and digestive health. Basically the type of bacterial colony living within our tummy has the ability to affect the amount of calories we absorb into our bodies, calorie storage and sugar cravings. Therefore our bacteria keep us healthy, prevents digestive problems like irritable bowl and leaky gut in addition to keeping us at our ideal weight.
How do we change our bacterial colony from fat to skinny bacteria.
- Change your diet (prebiotic) Skinny bacteria need prebiotic elements like fibre and some compounds that are indigestible but are food for these bacteria. These compounds are found in many fruits and vegetables. The chubby ‘fat’ bacteria love sugar, and in combination with yeast gobble it up and force us to crave more sugar and store and absorb more. In order to feed and nourish the good bacteria we must avoid processed foods and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Add Probiotics (50 billion CFU + per day) In order to help change the ratio of skinny verse fat bacteria adding a probiotic can help shift this balance in the right direction. You should find a probiotic with a minimum of 10 different bacterial strains to add diversity. Take these probiotics for a minimum of 3 months in addition to adding fermented foods rich in natural bacteria.
- Add Fermented foods Fermented foods are commonly vegetables which have been clultered to grow good bacteria. Eating these fermented food every day can help keep the good bacteria in plentiful supply. (Examples of fermented foods include; homemade sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers and kimchee) We will be sharing some of our amazing fermented food recipes in our next health post.
- No Sugar naughty bacteria and yeast love sugar, avoiding sugar will starve them and give the good guys an opportunity to grow
- No Gluten, (Is the protein found in wheat and other grains)
- For many people gluten is an irritant to the epithelial cells that line the gut wall, causing holes in our gut lining. When our gut lining has holes or also know as leaky it will then allow pathogens and the naughty bacteria into our blood stream hence affecting our immune system. In many cases we many develop food intolerances, allergies and autoimmune problems.
- In addition commercial breads and grains which were once fermented for days before being converted to breads are no longer fermented and processed from stalk to bread in a matter of hours. The bacteria which once made gluten digestible through fermentation doesn’t even have a chance to break down these compounds and hence the gluten protein is very indigestible to our bodies.
- Commercial grain are always sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, these sprays like ‘Round up’ affect the metabolic pathways of bacteria rendering them unless. Because we are more bacteria than human this is huge for us as it stops the bacteria in our guts from digesting food and hence we become bloated gassy or constipated.
- If you are going to eat bread it needs to be organic and fermented bread.
The hygiene theory
Despite the very crafty cleaning product adverts on TV, sining in melody the wonders of a mop and antibacterial miracle Detol the truth is that with the over exposure to antibiotics both administered medically and in our meat, poultry and dairy, along with all our clean crazy the bacteria that keeps us healthy has started to significantly change. In effect scientists have hypothesised that environments that are free from symbiotic bacteria, viruses and parasites actually make our immune systems weaker and make us prone to allergic diseases. Whilst environments rich in a diversity of the natural bacteria that reside on plants and animals strengthen our immune systems and also make our inner bacterial colonies stronger and more diverse.
So next time you get a does of antibiotics from the doctor think about the bacteria in your gut. although sometimes unavoidable for many circumstances we can find alternatives to antibiotics.
Every time you buy weed killer or antibacterial cleaning products remember the damage they cause to your digestive helpers. There are many natural cleaning products which do not kill our friends but still leave our homes smelling nice and clean.
The key to weight management and health is to have a flourishing bacterial colony that is diverse. Adopting some of our tips will help you keep your bacterial colony happy and healthy. Remember that these little guys are working in a symbiotic relationship with us. If their happy we’re happy.