Updated: Apr 13
Yes! You heard that right. Our gut is the key to health and weight loss. It isn’t enough to just eat well. What is more important is whether your body absorbs what you are feeding it and whether it discards toxins and waste efficiently or not? Each one of these functions happening in the gut, if in good order help us lose weight efficiently.
Our gastrointestinal tract (GIT) or in layman’s terms our digestive system has to be in perfect order to achieve the above. What we absorb decides how we function on a day-to-day basis and what we discard efficiently is what keeps us disease-free, energetic, and in perfect working condition.
That is also the reason why counting calories of food you eat is never accurate because the food gets digested and absorbed differently for different people based on :
what you eat,
your nutritional deficiencies which might affect absorption from the gut,
and how healthy your gut is to absorb the nutrients most efficiently.
So the actual calories that reach your body might vary a lot from person to person. You might actually absorb only half the calories of what you have eaten.
Secondly, every calorie or nutrient absorbed doesn't have the same fate in the body. We want all the absorbed nutrients/food items to get used up for important metabolic processes in the body rather than get stored as fat. That also is dependant on the health of the gut to absorb the minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients efficiently. A very important part of the digestive system (GIT) is the large intestine which contains many diverse species of bacteria making this organ most metabolically active in the body. Bacteria ferment dietary carbohydrates like fiber, oligosaccharides, and sugars that the small intestine cannot digest. They ferment enzymes, dead cells, bacterial cells, collagen, elastin found in foods.
Why is the gut bacterium so important?
….. It prevents harmful bacteria and yeast from colonizing …… it removes carcinogens and boosts the immune system …… it prevents allergies from developing …… it regulates inflammation which again prevents weight gain and developing allergies. ……. helps regulate our moods and nervous system. ……. also regulates our hormonal responses. ……. very effectively regulates the level of body fat ……. prevents inflammatory bowel disease.
So something as important as your gut, with so many important functions to carry out, should be well looked after by you.
Many times our bacterial balance gets disrupted either because of our bad food choices, excessive medications, or high stress levels. In such a case the first and foremost solution is going back to a diet high in fiber, for example, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables or supplementing with pre-biotics or pro-biotics.
What are Pre-biotics?
They are compounds that are not digested but rather fermented by microflora (microorganisms in the gut) and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). They give bacteria stuff to eat such as dietary fiber or fiber supplements.
What are Pro-biotics?
These are live organisms that help to restore beneficial bacteria in GIT. For example foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi are fermented and thus colonized with bacteria or supplements containing bacteria.
Pic credit - https://cdn.lifestyleasia.com
In conclusion, it is always better to look after your gut health through the right food choices and being aware of your food intolerances i.e. if you have trouble digesting certain foods and avoiding those foods completely. Many a time the food intolerances are secondary to an unhealthy gut and not some pathological abnormality. And that is because of our wrong lifestyle, wrong food choices, over medication, and of course excessive stress. In situations that can disrupt healthy bacterial balance such as taking long-term antibiotics and in such cases, one can benefit from supplementing with either naturally occurring pre-biotics or pro-biotics rather than artificial fiber supplements.
But if you are looking at overall well-being with minimal risk of future disease - a healthy gut is an absolute must and that happens with a combination of a good lifestyle, healthy eating habits, and a life with a manageable amount of stress.
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Disclaimer: Some facts have been taken from the Precision Nutrition program and blog. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/blog