How Microbiota Can Be Key to Lose Weight

How to Fix Your Gut and Lose Weight 20 Minute Fitness Podcast #13

Recent discoveries have found that our gut bacteria can influence our body shape and how effectively we lose body fat. As well as how difficult it is to reduce stored body fat. Researchers discovered that leaner individuals tend to have a “diverse rainforest” of species living inside them. This community of life is known as your microbiota.

In this episode, we discuss several bacteria associated with weight loss. We also delve into lifestyle changes that individuals can make to ensure that their bodies become a habitable environment for bacteria.

The names of the bacteria that Charlie was too scared to attempt to announce will be listed here.

Show Notes

Bacteria and Microbiota’s Metabolic Influence

To begin with having a greater abundance of a recently discovered type of bacteria called Christensenellaceae (3:37) in your gut is associated with being slim. While having less of the bacteria is linked to being obese. According to a new study in the journal Cell shows.

Jeffrey Gordon, M.D., the director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at the Washington University School of Medicine, was one of the first researchers to link intestinal bacteria and obesity.  Furthermore, the study found that lean people have 70 percent more gut bacteria. Therefore a more diverse microbiota than that of their overweight peers.

Bacteria’s Affect on Hunger

Your gut bacteria might affect how hungry you are too. Especially one key microbe appears to be Helicobacter pylori (6:13).  While antibiotic treatments have helped cut H. pylori infection rates in half in recent decades, H. pylori was once abundant in the American digestive tract but is now rare, thanks to more hygienic living conditions and the use of antibiotics, says Blaser, author of a new book entitled Missing Microbes . Therefore this is good news for ulcer sufferers—but which could be bad news for our waistlines. As it turns out that H. pylori also dials back the stomach’s production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

“When you wake up in the morning and you’re hungry, it’s because ghrelin is telling you to eat,” says Martin Blaser, M.D., the author of the book Missing Microbes. “When you eat breakfast, your level of ghrelin usually goes down. But if you don’t have Helicobacter in your system, it doesn’t.” The end result: You could eat more.

Genetic’s Role In Bacterial Health

Life­style and dietary habits can have a dramatic impact on your mix of beneficial and harmful microbes. However, genetics determines some of your gut bacteria. For example, a study in the journal Nature found that when people switched from their normal diet to one consisting primarily of meat and cheese, there was an almost immediate increase in Bilophila. Colitis (inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract) is linked to this bacteria.  The study also found that a plant-based diet decreased the levels.

Steps to Better You Intestinal Bacteria

Be Aware of The Fats In Your Diet

Most noteworthy, some studies demonstrate that high-fat diets can adversely affect your gut flora and promote inflammation and weight gain. However, it’s important to note that the type of fat you eat matters! These studies focus on diets that incorporate high levels of inflammatory, refined omega 6 vegetable oils. Avoid refined omega-6 rich vegetable oils as they fall into the “bad fats” category.

Eat More Fiber

It’s the number-one thing you can do, says Justin Sonnenburg, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Stanford University. As his new research suggests that fiber nourishes your microbes, making them diverse and more likely to help keep you slim.

Snack Smarter

Also the fact that we consume so much added sugar—more than 22 teaspoons a day for the average person—could actually be starving our gut flora, Sonnenburg says. Because bacteria need complex carbohydrates, like legumes and whole grains, in order to thrive. So when you get too many calories from sweets, you’re leaving your microbes hungry. In essence, they either die or adapt by feeding on the mucus inside your intestine. Experts hypothesize this could contribute to low-level inflammation, a condition that has been linked to obesity.

The Science Behind Your Cravings 

Pick Probiotic Foods

After all, If prebiotics are like fertilizer for your microbial garden, probiotics are like seeds. Therefore, the best way to get them is by regularly eating fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and miso. And about yogurt, that probiotic rock star: A landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that among all foods studied, yogurt was the one most strongly correlated with weight loss.

Move Your Body

Your bacteria might also benefit from a good workout as much as you do. As a result exercisers with a normal BMI had more diverse microbes than people who exercise with a high BMI, according to a recent Irish study of male rugby players. They also had higher levels of Akkermansiaceae (14:14), a type of bacteria linked to lower obesity rate

Supplement Smartly

Beyond the numerous benefits (including reducing inflammation), studies find omega 3 fatty acids can support healthy gut flora. You should definitely supplement with an essential fatty acids formula if you’re not regularly eating wild-caught fatty fish.

Add More Coconut

Studies also demonstrate anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits from adding Medium Chain Triglyceride or MCT oils. One of my favorite fats, coconut oil, and coconut butter, contains these fabulous fat-burning MCTs.

How Gut Bacteria Can Affect Your Weight

As new research by the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen has shown that different proportions of gut bacteria can determine how much weight a person is able to lose. As the findings suggest that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work.

Researchers enrolled 62 participants who all had large waist circumferences. They were instructed to follow either the New Nordic Diet, dark greens, berries, whole grains.  Or the Average Danish Diet, lean meat, eggs, lettuce, coffee, no grains. They were grouped based on how much of two different types of bacteria  (Prevotella and Bacteroides) they had in their gut. The two diets vary greatly in the amount of fiber you consume. With the New Nordic Diet being much more fiber-rich. Participants followed the diets for 26 weeks, with their body measurements taken before and after.

The researchers found that those who had a higher ratio of Prevotella to Bacteroides and followed the New Nordic Diet lost more body fat. A relationship between two groups of intestinal bacteria is decisive for whether overweight people lose weight on a diet. One that follows the Danish national dietary recommendations and contains a lot of fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole grains. In the study, 31 subjects ate the New Nordic Diet for 26 weeks and lost an average of 3.5 kg. Whereas the 23 subjects eating an Average Danish Diet lost an average of 1.7 kg. Thus weight loss was on average 1.8 kilos greater in the subjects on the New Nordic Diet.

High Proportion of Prevotella Bacteria Lead to Weight Loss

The findings saw that people with a high proportion of Prevotella lost 3.5 kg more in 26 weeks. When they ate a diet composed by the New Nordic Diet principles compared to those consuming an Average Danish Diet. Subjects with a low proportion of Prevotella did not lose any additional weight on the New Nordic Diet. Approximately 50 percent of the population has a high proportion of Prevotella-bacteria in relation to Bacteroides-bacteria.

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Study on Christensenellaceae:   Human Genetics Shape the Gut Microbiome

Linking Intestinal Bacteria and Obesity: Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice)

Antibiotics Affect on Microbes: Martin Blaser, Missing Microbes

Genetic Role of Bacteria Health:  Intergenerational transfer of antibiotic-perturbed microbiota enhances colitis in susceptible mice

Fiber’s Affect on Intestinal Bacteria:  Importance of Fiber For Microbiota/Specificity of Polysaccharide Use in Intestinal Bacteroides Species Determines Diet-Induced Microbiota Alterations

Probiotic Support From Yogurt:  Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men

Irish Study of Male Rugby Players:: Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity

Fish Oils Affect on Healthy Gut Flora: How fish oils could support our friendly bacteria

Amsterdam Study on Weight and Intestinal Bacteria:  Pre-treatment microbial Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio, determines body fat loss success during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention


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Lesley George

Lesley is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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