I was reading a nice research review about your Gut Biome and obesity. You can read the full article here – Gut Microbiota vs Obesity – The chicken or the egg? .You may have heard about the Gut Biome already through the Zoe app programme by Tim Spector or books such as Dark Matter.
Various research studies have linked the health of your gut biome and digestive system with various health issues including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There is also a correlation with obesity, individuals who are obese have a different gut biome compared to lean individuals. This influences metabolism, immune response, and energy extraction from food.
The difficulty with this issue, and thus the title of the research review, is that low energy diets, exercise, and bariatric surgery all exhibit positive associations with improved gut microbiota and cardiometabolic markers. So is the state of the gut the cause or the symptom?
The review explored how gut microbiota influenced nutrient absorption, processing of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Less healthy gut biomes were more likely to produce metabolites associated with inflammation. Foods high in energy, especially high fat with a low fibre content showed negative associations with gut health. You may remember we covered fibre in a newsletter a few months ago.
Probiotics show potential in weight management, albeit with modest effects observed in clinical trials. Exercise emerges as a significant aid to gut microbiota, enhancing diversity and emphasizing its role in combating obesity.
The report explored microbiota transplantation, showing how there were promising outcomes in animal studies but inconsistent results in human trials.
What Does This Mean For You?
The recent popularity of gut biome talk has created a bit of a divide that reminded me of the body positivity scale which I covered previously and in my book. At one end, you have Tim Spector being controversial on podcasts saying there is no point exercising or reducing food if you want to lose weight unless your gut is in good health while the other end, the calorie counters still feel it is all about numbers in vs out and nothing else.
As you probably know, I believe the major cause always comes back to the mind, motivation and underlying beliefs in the first place. Without these, you will not be able to follow any plan well enough whatever the underlying problem may or may not be.
Thereafter, there may be specific issues that you need to address depending on the individual. I feel the most pertinent thing to take from the gut biome talk is that it proposes a mechanism about why when two people overeat, one person can absorb so much more of that food than another. I have mentioned this phenomenon many times over the years. The study proposes that this is due to the ‘unhealthy biome’ being better at processing simple carbohydrates and fats. This puts you at a huge disadvantage obviously in terms of managing your food intake and obesity.
At a practical level, the fact that simply undereating on any type of food plan improves the gut biome to some degree is encouraging. The basic advice of reducing processed foods, increasing fibre through fruit and vegetables will allow for greater improvements from there on too. You can of course take this to deeper levels through testing your biome like they do in the Zoe programme and others. There are also various avenues that can be explored with the use of supplements or medications. The great thing about your digestive system is that it is fast responding. Just seven days can be enough to show changes and improvements in its health.
I am a huge fan of short-term targeted behaviour change, e.g. committing to do something for a week rather than signing up for life. This allows for all sorts of discoveries, breaking of bad habits and retraining of the brain. It would be great if you could focus for a few days to a week of going high fibre, high fruit and veg while minimising processed or sensitive foods. If you did this before the Christmas period begins then you would surely be assigned superhero status, well, at least from me! Give it a try!
Photos – The research article and prominent gut biome proponents.
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