The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all human cells in the entire body, with more than 400 known diverse bacterial species. In fact, you could say that we are more bacterial than human. Think on that for a minute. Review the following information if you suffer from obesity or diabetes because perhaps the key to healing is to achieve a healthy gut.
Our intestine harbors approximately 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms. That is such a large number that our human brains cannot really understand it. Trillion-peso bills laid end to end would stretch from the earth to the sun, and vice versa, with many miles to spare. Do this 100 times and you’ll start to have at least a vague idea of how much 100 trillion is.
A healthy gut promotes health.
Recently, we have begun to understand the extent of the role of gut flora in human health and disease. Among other things, the intestinal flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection against infection, regulates metabolism, and comprises more than 75% of our immune system.
Dysregulated gut flora has been linked to diseases ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes.
A healthy gut reduces the chances of obesity and diabetes.
Recent research has shown that gut flora and overall gut health also play a role in both obesity and diabetes. Most people with blood sugar problems tend to have a leaky gut, a bowel infection, or some other chronic inflammatory bowel condition.
We now know that the composition of the organisms that live in your gut determines, to some extent, at least, how your body stores the food you eat, how easy (or difficult) it is for you to lose weight, and how well your metabolism works. Let’s take a closer look at the mechanisms involved.
Gut bacteria drive obesity and metabolic disease.
A study published this year in the journal Science found that mice without a protein known as toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) in their gut gain excess weight and develop diabetes and fatty liver disease when fed a diet high in fat.
If we think of gut flora as a community, TLR5 is like a neighborhood police force that can keep hooligans at bay. Without TLR5, bad bacteria can get out of control.
The study authors found that these bad bacteria caused low-grade inflammation in the mice, causing them to eat more and develop insulin resistance. They also found that treating these mice with strong antibiotics (enough to kill most of the bacteria in the gut) reduced their metabolic abnormalities.
But the most interesting part of this study is what happened when the researchers transferred the gut flora of the TLR5-deficient overweight mice into the guts of the lean mice: the lean mice immediately began to eat more and eventually developed the same metabolic abnormalities. that the overweight mice had.
Gut flora differs between obese people and people with good metabolism.
Other studies have shown that the composition of the intestinal flora differs in obese and diabetic people and in people of normal weight without metabolic irregularities.
One possible mechanism for how changes in the gut flora cause “diabesity” (diabetes and obesity) is that different species of bacteria appear to have different effects on appetite and metabolism.
In the TLR5-deficient mouse study mentioned above, mice with too many bad bacteria in their guts experienced an increase in appetite and ate about 10 percent more food than their regular relatives.
But it wasn’t just that these mice were hungrier and ate more; their metabolisms were damaged. When their food was restricted, they lost weight, but still had insulin resistance.
A bad intestine usually stores more fat.
Other studies have shown that changes in intestinal flora can increase the rate at which we absorb fatty acids and carbohydrates and increase the storage of calories in the form of fat.
This means that someone with poor gut flora could eat the same amount of food as someone with a healthy gut, but extract more calories and gain more weight.
Bad bacteria in the gut can even directly contribute to metabolic syndrome by increasing insulin production (which leads to insulin resistance) and by causing inflammation of the hypothalamus (which leads to leptin resistance).
How modern life ruins our gut and makes us fat and diabetic?
What all this research suggests is that healthy gut bacteria are crucial for maintaining a normal weight and metabolism. Unfortunately, several characteristics of the modern lifestyle contribute directly to unhealthy gut flora:
- Antibiotics and other medications such as contraceptives and NSAIDs.
- Diets rich in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods.
- Low fermentable fiber diets.
- Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut.
- Chronic stress.
- Chronic infections.
We also know that babies who are not breastfed and born to mothers with poor gut flora are more likely to develop unhealthy gut bacteria, and that these early differences in gut flora can predict future overweight and obesity.
It is interesting to note that the epidemic of diabesity has clearly coincided with the increasing prevalence of factors that alter the intestinal flora. It’s not suggested that poor gut health is the sole cause of obesity and diabetes, but it does probably play a much bigger role than most people think.
How to maintain and restore the intestinal flora for a healthy intestine?
The most obvious first step in maintaining a healthy gut is avoiding all of the things listed above. But of course, that is not always possible, especially in the case of chronic stress and infections, and whether we breastfed and our mothers had healthy intestines or not.
If you’ve been exposed to any of these factors, there are still steps you can take to restore your gut flora:
- Eliminate all food toxins from your diet.
- Eat a lot of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, etc.).
- Take a high-quality probiotic or consider more radical methods to restore a healthy gut flora.
- Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present.
- Take steps to manage your stress.