Our large and small intestine is home to over 400 different types of bacteria and fungi/yeasts (called our gut flora or microbiome). In the correct ratio’s they live happily inside us.
We supply our gut flora with food and they produce vitamins and fatty acids from our foods that help keep us healthy and at a normal healthy weight. However if the ratio of certain species (e.g. staphylococcus, E. coli, clostridia) flourishes over the more beneficial species (Lactobacilli), this imbalance interferes with the normal digestion of food and you may experience indigestion, bloating, excessive wind, gurgling noises in the stomach, coated tongue and other gut disturbances. If this imbalance is not corrected, your bowel may become more toxic.
Does Gut Health affect body weight?
I believe gut health does affect weight because clients are constantly looking to eat to find something to quieten it, cool it or satisfy. Bloating makes us feel heavy and uncomfortable.
A microbiome imbalance in the gut can affect the normal transit time of food from mouth to anus creating an urgency to defecate, diarrhoea or constipation. The longer a stool sits in the colon, the more likely it is that bacteria produce compounds or toxicity which can result in facial boils, foul-smelling gas and stools, bad breath, strong body odour, heavy sweating and itchy skin. In addition. you can experience constipation.
On the other hand, if food is travelling too fast through your gastrointestinal tract, you may not be absorbing all of the good nutrients from the food, leaving your body low in micro-nutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium etc. The FODMAP diet addresses sugars that are poorly absorbed such as lactose, fructose and phenols which attract water in the intestine (you will hear gurgling noise) and cause diarrheoa.
What can cause this bacterial imbalance in your gut?
1. Excessive use of antibiotics.
2. A low-fibre diet which deprives the friendly bacteria of the food they need (short-chain fatty acids).
3. A high sugar diet which feeds the bugs (alcohol, white grains such as bread, pasta, cereals, sweets etc)
4. Poor digestion which can result from chronic stress, long gaps between meals, bad diet or binges/overeating that overload the digestive system
5. Bacteria/parasite picked up on holiday abroad especially in India or Asia
What can you do to improve your gut health?
(Seek professional advice from a nutritionist in conjunction with your GP and gastroenterologist so that all potential health risks can be assessed and ruled-out. Do not ignore ongoing indigestion, constipation and digestive disturbances)
1. A symptom analysis with your professional health advisor backed up by a laboratory test.
2. Kill off the bad bacteria/excess yeast and calm the gut lining using natural alternatives to antibiotics – for example capyrlic acid, grapefruit seed extract, aged garlic and herbs such as barberry, goldenseal, marshmallow root, liquorice root, aloe vera, slippery elm, oregano, cinnamon etc.
3. Re-innoculate the gut with the friendly bacteria using probiotic capsules or powders and in the longer term prebiotic foods (e.g. onion, garlic, oats in tiny amounts and building up slowly)
4. Change your diet with the help of a professional and use digestive aids to ensure food is fully broken down. Remove gut wall irritants such as caffeine, bran and alcohol to allow the gut wall to calm down along with any foods that make you feel worse after eating them e.g. FODMAP foods are a good starting point. This process can be a challenge as only you can identify these foods by a process of elimination and re-introduction. An elimination diet for 4 to 6 weeks should provide clarity.
5. Stress has a really bad effect on the gut. Stress management is essential. Check out my 12 step blog on managing stress.
6. Exercise stimulates waste elimination. Eat meals at regular intervals, chewing thoroughly and avoid overeating. Stay well hydrated.
Helicobacter Pylori is a pathogenic bacteria that can survive in the stomach and it causes ulcers. A urea breath test is 94-98% accurate in diagnosing its presence. This bacteria is treated with strong antibiotics via your GP.
If you need help losing weight and suffer from poor gut health, I welcome the challenge of working with you and your medical specialist to find a solution that works.