Gut Health & Weight Management
Your microbiome is the foundation of your metabolism.
First off, what exactly is the gut? A brief physiological overview:
mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon & rectum
Functional Gastrointestinal Endocrine Glands
salivary, pancreas, liver, gallbladder & GALT (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue)
Your gut is made up of trillions of microorganisms (aka the microbiome – a community of bacteria, viruses & fungi) which regulate our immune system, digest food, create vitamins and neurotransmitters, support brain function, fight off pathogens, and help maintain a healthy metabolism & weight. Basically they are the OG’s of our overall health. It is estimated that humans have 10 trillion cells and 100 trillion microbes, meaning bacteria outnumber human cells 10 to 1 (Lipski, 2012). Some of the microbes in our gut are beneficial and some are not. Balance is KEY.
Our modern, fast paced lifestyle is difficult on our gut and our weight. Processed foods, lack of sleep, stress, environmental toxins, reduced time outside and medications can all disrupt the microbiome which can lead to an unbalanced metabolism and excess weight. Your microbiome is the foundation of your metabolism since your gut is where the body decides what to do with the calories consumed. New research has shown that the health of the microbiome can influence ability to lose weight. Below are some simple tips outlining how to support the microbiome, balance metabolism and manage weight.
1. Feed Your Biome
It's not just calories in, calories out. There have been many studies that show calories from processed foods are not equal to the calories of nutrient dense foods. Food is information for your body! You want to BALANCE your microbiome by eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods.
Examples include: clean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, nuts & seeds, fruit, vegetables, booster foods, herbs and spices.
Probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that feed your microbiome. Load up on fermented foods which are packed with probiotics.
Probiotic rich foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, apple cider vinegar
Prebiotics: Prebiotics are nondigestable carbohydrates that feed the probiotics (mostly with fiber). These little guys can also balance blood sugar.
Prebiotic rich foods: Whole grains, asparagus, alliums (onion, garlic, leeks), artichokes, legumes, dandelion greens
Studies have shown that regular exercise can have a profound impact on gut health.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can increase mitochondrial efficiency, has been shown to support weight loss and you can burn up to 30% more calories in less time!
The most underrated form of movement = WALKING! Spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine (supports vitamin D production) has profoundly positive impacts on your overall health.
3. Cold Exposure
Cold exposure can cause stem cells to create brown fat (helps body burn calories) instead of white fat (excess body fat). Get cold to burn fat and boost metabolism!
Try ending your shower on cold water. At the end of your shower, turn the water all the way to cold. Start with 5 seconds and slowly work your way up to 30 -60 seconds over time!
4. Support Restful Sleep
Quality sleep is a key component of physical and mental health. Sleep is a time for your brain & body to repair and restore.
Sleep deprivation has been tied to insulin resistance and increased cortisol which can negatively impact your metabolism (Stevenson, 2020).
A few tips for a restful nights sleep include practicing good sleep hygiene, getting sunlight first thing in the morning to support your circadian rhythm and supportive herbs such as chamomile, holy basil and lemon balm. Personally, I do not look at my phone 30 minutes before bed or 30 minutes after I have woken up which has been a game changer for my sleep patterns.
Hydration is key for weight management. Being properly hydrated brings nutrient to cells, keeps your organs working properly and supports a healthy brain & metabolism. If you are dehydrated your body cannot filter out and eliminate toxins or break down fat as easily (Stevenson, 2020).
Water: Add a pinch of sea salt (NOT TABLE SALT) to water. Sea salt is rich in trace minerals which can support electrolyte balance and overall hydration.
Chai Tea: Spices (cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves) in chai tea can rev up your metabolism
Green Tea: Studies have shown that green tea can help burn fat. Green tea is also rich in polyphenols, EGCG (epigallocatechin-3, a powerful antioxidant), and is highly anti-inflammatory.
Hydrating Foods: Cucumber, watermelon, lettuce, strawberries, cantaloupe, oranges, celery
Lipski, Elizabeth. (2012) Digestive Wellness. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Enders, Giulia. (2018). Gut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Berkeley, CA: Greystone Books.
Stevenson, Shawn. (2020). Eat Smarter. New York, NY: Little, BrownSpark.