It turns out that the trillions of bacteria in your gut do more than just help you digest food and produce vitamins. They have strong connections to obesity and metabolism, and may even be the key to whether you are depressed or happy, healthy, or sick.
Dysbiosis, which is an excess of pathogenic or ‘bad gut flora’ can increase risk of breast cancer. This is because one of the roles of our ‘good bugs’ is to support the detoxification and removal of oestrogen from the body. The ‘bad bugs’ encourage oestrogen recycling rather than oestrogen elimination. This increases oestrogen potency in the body, which is a leading cause of breast cancer.
So what’s the big deal about gut flora when it comes to weight gain?
Not only does excess oestrogen increase your chances of developing breast cancer, oestrogen increases body fat and it also impairs blood sugar control making it increasingly difficult to lose weight and worsening of any hormonal symptoms.
It can also affect our metabolism by thwarting the thyroids ability to produce thyroid hormones; this further impacts weight gain.
Hormone expert Dr Sara Gottfried MD believes “Faulty gut flora can actually create weight loss resistance. Bad bacteria coupled with a lack of diversity in flora is a surefire way to create hormonal havoc.”
We’ve seen this in mouse studies where scientists have transplanted the gut flora from an obese mouse into a thin mouse. Without changing anything else in their environment or diet, the thin mouse gained weight from the change in gut bacteria alone!
Other studies have shown that the composition of the gut flora differs in people who are obese and diabetic, and people who are normal weight with no metabolic irregularities. “Obese people appear to have a compromised intestinal barrier,” Describes Biologist Jeff Tabor
How modern life screws up our gut and makes us fat…
Healthy gut bacteria is crucial to maintaining normal weight and metabolism. Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:
- Antibiotics use
- Medications like the contraceptive pill and non steroidal pain killers
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods which encourage growth of pathogenic flora ‘bad bugs.’
- Alcohol is a natural sterilising agent; not good news for our ‘good bugs!’ Plus it’s high in sugar so it ends up feeding the bad bugs especially candida!
- Diets low in fermentable fibre to provide food for our ‘good bugs.’
- Food heavily sprayed in pesticides aimed at killing pests have a negative impact on our own “good bugs”.
- Chemicals added to drinking water for their sterilising potential, suppress the growth of our gut flora.
- Chronic stress depletes good bacteria levels.
How Can we Positively Influence our Gut Bacteria Levels?
- Introduce fermented foods into the diet like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and raw apple cider vinegar. These will also boost immunity reducing the need for antibiotics 🙂
- Diversity of gut microbes is key when it comes to a healthy gut and kefir is one of the most diverse of all the fermented foods containing anywhere from 40 – 60 different strains of microbes. Plus it’s one of the easiest to make!
- Reduce sugar and processed foods – that’s a given when it comes to any health issue!!
- Increase your vegetable intake using, soups, salads, smoothies and cover half your plate with fibrous vegetables at dinner time. Chose organic produce where possible to avoid toxic pesticides residues
- Drink pure water. Nowadays water filtration systems are much more accessible. If you want to remove chlorine and fluoride as well as heavy metals you want to look out for a reverse osmosis system. Boiling water or jug filters just won’t cut it when it comes to removing these chemicals. You are much better off investing in an under sink Reverse Osmosis system. When RO systems first came onto the market they were so expensive but now you can pick one up online for as little as €150…