The true key to weight loss may not be what you think it is.
It doesn’t require following a fad diet, eating like a caveman, or spending hours at the gym. In fact, the secret is locked deep inside each of us… waiting to be tapped into for health, vibrancy and yes, weight loss.
I am talking about the trillions of bacteria in the intestine making up the gut microbiome. This rich community of microbes is intricately connected to all aspects of health including GI function, digestion, brain health, metabolism, immunity and cellular communication. When they are healthy, so are we. But, if the microbiome is suffering, our own health is diminished, inflammation soars and weight gain ensues.
A New Understanding of Weight Loss
Weight loss is a lot more complicated than simply cutting calories.
The way food is processed and metabolized by the microbiome greatly impacts the effect it has on the body. A healthy well-balanced microbiome improves metabolism and actually extracts fewer calories from the same plate of food as an unhealthy one and prevents inflammation, which is another trigger for weight gain.
Likewise, when the microbiome becomes unbalanced, weight loss is blocked and diets fail. By eating to support the health of these microbes, you tap into their fat burning power while at the same time elevating your health.
This is a radical departure from the outdated calories in/calories out model of weight loss. Anyone who has dieted knows firsthand it doesn’t work, and it’s not a sustainable way to live.
For weight loss that is effortless and easy to maintain, the diet must exclude foods that are inflammatory and throw off a healthy bacterial balance. Additionally the health of the intestine itself must be considered. Leaky gut, inflammation and motility issues, all affect the well-being of the tiny residents living there.
Foods that Harm the Gut Microbiome
Anyone who has been struggling with weight loss or any health issue for a long period of time most likely has microbiome imbalances and inflammation. The best way to begin working on these issues is by removing foods that trigger overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria and suppress healthful strains.
While most dieters expect to cut back on sugar because of calories, on a deeper level, sugar should be avoided for the detrimental affects on gut bacteria. Sugar is known to nourish disruptive strains and yeast, allowing them to overgrow and exceed a healthy percentage of the microbiome.
A popular trend today is to eat a diet comprised mainly of animal proteins and fat. Unfortunately, this does little to sustain the health of the microbiome. In fact, without a substantial amount of plant fibers known as prebiotics, the microbiome becomes depleted, reducing its ability to make necessary nutrients for your health, like short chain fatty acids, vitamins and natural antibiotics that keep you safe from pathogens. A microbiome-friendly diet is high in plants and uses healthy animal proteins as a side dish.
Found in wheat, barley, rye and processed foods, gluten is a prime trigger for intestinal permeability. A leaky gut leads to multiple food intolerances, inflammation and over-activity of the immune system… all of which make it very difficult to lose weight and which damage the body.
Conventionally Grown Food/Unfiltered Water
The microbiome is highly sensitive to exposure from chemicals, toxins and pesticides, especially those coming from the food we eat and the water we drink. Whenever possible, avoid foods soaked in chemicals and instead choose organically-grown plants, grass-fed animals raised without hormones, and filtered water.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Plants are now being engineered to withstand cold and pesticides, with the goal of increasing crop yields. GMOs are particularly alarming, since the effects are not fully understood and there are no laws in place to make labeling mandatory. Animal studies have found a link between GMOs and weight gain. Other health aspects are still being researched.
While dairy can be beneficial for some, for others, eating it leads to inflammation, leaky gut, food intolerance and reactions that can affect the immune system. Many people benefit by removing it for a period of time and reintroducing it later.
Soy is another food known to trigger leaky gut and immune reactions. Additionally, it may affect the thyroid and hormones; both of which play a big role in metabolism and weight loss.
These sweeteners can wreak havoc on the body, sugar regulation, weight loss and the microbiome. Some are metabolized into toxic compounds, while others cause blood sugar and insulin spikes. These products are linked to increased hunger, cravings, weight gain, and depression.
HFCS, Additives, Preservatives, Food Coloring, Refined Vegetable Oils
This last group is a mixed bag of detrimental products, all of which have a few big things in common… they all promote inflammation, block weight loss, are highly processed and can lead to imbalances in bacterial communities. To clarify, vegetable oils refer to varieties like soy, corn, sunflower, cottonseed and canola; not healthy oils like olive and coconut.
Now that you know what to avoid, include these foods every day:
- Enjoy a plant based diet rich in organically grown whole foods.
- Drink clean filtered water.
- Load up on foods that include bacteria nurturing prebiotic fibers like garlic, onion, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, radish, jicama, turmeric and leek.
- Include servings of probiotic foods daily such as fermented vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir.
- Eat organic, grass-fed animal meats, wild caught fish and free-range poultry and eggs.
- Enjoy non-gluten grains, such as pseudo grains like quinoa, lentils and chickpeas.
- Healthy fats, including olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and avocado.