Your gut contains the majority of the bacteria that is in your body. This plays a major role in your health, producing vitamins, digesting food, communicating with your immune system, and producing chemicals and hormones. There are hundreds of different types of bacteria in your intestines. Some are healthy or ‘good’, and contribute to your immunity and ability to fight off disease. Others are not so good and can cause disease.
The cluster of all of the bacteria that live in your gut is often referred to as your ‘gut microbiome’. I like to think of it as a 'garden', where you want to control the 'weeds', or unhealthy bacteria, and nourish the 'flowers', or healthy bacteria. You'll always have some weeds in your garden, but if you spend energy nourishing the flowers and killing the weeds, your garden will be more beautiful - and, in this 'gut garden', will be beneficial to your health!
What you eat affects your 'gut garden'.
The balance between the 'flowers' or the 'weeds' is important to your health, and your weight. Too many 'weeds' in your 'gut garden' can cause weight gain.
For example, different types of omega-6 rich oils (like soybean oil) are inflammatory and will cause a shift in the microbiome. Polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil and other seed oils are also inflammatory and should be avoided. These damaging oils should be replaced with fats such as avocados, coconut oil, fish, and extra virgin olive oil. These fats will lower inflammation levels, encourage healthy gut bugs, and increase weight loss.
Chronic stress and sleep deprivation can also encourage gut imbalance. In fact, the brain and the gut are closely connected, and your mental health can contribute to shifts in your gut microbiome. The intestines are often referred to as the ‘second brain’, as it has a network of neurons lining the walls. So make sure that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, and practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation.
Science is only at the beginning of understanding the link between gut bacteria and its role in weight loss, but there are many ways to improve the levels of good bacteria in your gut. We have included some below.
How to grow a healthy "Gut Garden":
Eat whole foods
Cut out sugar and unrefined carbs. Make sure you eat plenty of plant-based foods that are rich in fiber - this is what the 'flowers' (good bacteria) eat.
Make 75% of your plate vegetables
Again, fiber-rich foods are a win. Not only are you feeding your flower garden, you also benefit from all of the amazing nutriton found in vegetables!
Eat good fats
Like we said above, good fats - avocados, coconut oil, fish, and extra virgin olive oil - will decrease inflammation and create healthy gut bugs.
Go nuts for coconut
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory benefits, thanks to the Medium Chain Triglycerides that it brings to the table.
Sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, etc. are all examples of fermented foods that contain probiotics. Let those healthy gut bugs go forth and multiply!