In the quest for achieving a healthy body weight, many individuals focus solely on diet and exercise. While these factors undoubtedly play crucial roles in weight management, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that an often overlooked component, gut health, may hold the key to effective and sustainable weight loss. This article explores how optimising the health of your gut can positively impact your weight loss journey and what are those gut healthy foods.
Also, check 7 Proven Gut Healthy Foods
Link between gut health and weight loss
The human gut, a complex ecosystem teeming with trillions of microorganisms, influences numerous aspects of our overall health, including metabolism, immune function, and even mental well-being. There is a growing body of research that suggests a link between gut health and weight loss. The gut microbiota, which is the community of microorganisms that reside in our digestive tract, plays a crucial role in our overall health, including metabolism and weight management.
Also, check 6 Smart ways for PostPartum Weight Loss
Importance of gut health in weight management:
Gut Microbiota Composition:
Studies have shown that individuals with obesity tend to have a different composition of gut bacteria compared to those with a healthy weight. An imbalance in the gut microbiota, characterised by a lower diversity of beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, may contribute to weight gain and difficulties in losing weight.
Energy Harvesting and Metabolism:
The gut microbiota has the ability to break down and extract energy from certain dietary components that our body cannot digest on its own. When the gut bacteria efficiently extract calories from food, it can lead to an increased energy harvest, potentially contributing to weight gain. On the other hand, an altered gut microbiota composition may affect metabolism and interfere with the body’s ability to efficiently use or store energy.
Inflammation and Insulin Resistance:
Imbalances in the gut microbiota can promote low-grade inflammation, which is associated with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, which can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiota may help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.
Appetite and Food Cravings:
The gut microbiota also influences the production of certain hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin, which are involved in regulating appetite and satiety. An imbalance in the gut bacteria can disrupt the normal signaling of these hormones, leading to increased hunger, food cravings, and a tendency to overeat.
Also, check Reasons for Loss of Appetite
Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA’s):
Certain beneficial bacteria in the gut produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a byproduct of fermenting dietary fiber. SCFAs have been shown to have various health benefits, including promoting satiety, reducing inflammation, and improving insulin sensitivity. Consuming a diet rich in fiber can support the growth of these beneficial bacteria and enhance SCFA production.
Food categories that help in Gut health
Maintaining a healthy gut involves consuming a varied and balanced diet that includes foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and support overall gut health. Here are some examples of healthy food categories for gut health:
Dietary fiber is essential for a healthy gut. It acts as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria. Good sources of fiber include fruits (such as berries, apples, and pears), vegetables (like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes), legumes (such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans), and whole grains (like oats, quinoa, and brown rice).
Fermented foods undergo a process of lacto-fermentation, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria. These foods contain probiotics, live bacteria that support gut health. Examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha.
Probiotics are live bacteria that can provide health benefits when consumed. In addition to fermented foods, you can find probiotics in certain dairy products, such as yogurt and some types of cheese. Look for labels that indicate the presence of live and active cultures.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have been associated with a healthier gut microbiota and reduced inflammation.
Polyphenols are plant compounds that act as antioxidants and have been shown to have a positive impact on gut health. Foods rich in polyphenols include berries, cherries, grapes, dark chocolate, green tea, coffee, and colorful vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Garlic and Onions:
These flavorful ingredients contain compounds that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and help reduce harmful bacteria in the gut.
Nuts and Seeds:
Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients that can support gut health.
SOME PROVEN GUT HEALTHY FOOD INGREDIENTS
1.PARTIALLY HYDROLYZED GUAR GUM:
Guar gum is a fiber made from guar bean or Indian cluster bean. It is used as a laxative that normalizes the moisture content of the stool, absorbing excess liquid in diarrhea, and softening the stool in constipation. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best gut-healthy foods.
While partially hydrolyzed guar gum is derived from guar gum by the process of enzymatic hydrolysis. PHGG is a water soluble dietary fiber and is used to regulate gut function. According to the study conducted by NIH, intake of PHGG improves human stool form by regulating intestinal microbiota. It has also been useful in treating Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in both adults and kids.
Benefits of Guar gum
- Treating diarrhea/ constipation and IBS symptoms
- Lowering cholesterol
- Manages high blood pressure
- Control diabetes
- Weight loss
- Enhance Mineral absorption
2. FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES (FOS):
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are composed of short fructose chains. They are a type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides. FOS occurs naturally in many plants. They are prebiotic fibers that support the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. FOS is also a good source of soluble, dietary fiber and has been shown to reduce, or eliminate constipation.
3. CITRIC ACID:
Citric acid is the weak organic acid found in the greatest amount in citrus fruits. We all have seen citric acid appear on the label of many products but don’t know exactly what citric acid is for our health. However the primary reason for including this in any packaged foods is for its tangy flavor. But apart from this citric acid is associated with many health benefits also:
- Citric acid helps to convert food into energy.
- It enhances calcium, phosphorus and Magnesium absorption through the gut.
- This also prevents calcium crystals or kidney stones from forming.
4. ORANGE EXTRACT:
Oranges are the food to boost immunity. They are not only nutritious and rich in Vitamin-C but also loved by kids. Just one orange can meet 100% vitamin C requirements for the kid’s daily nutrition. The pith (white after between peel and fruit) of orange has 30% fiber of the fruit and this particular fiber (called pectin) is good for the kid’s gut which builds immunity and supports digestion.
Stevia is one of the Alternatives of sugar made up of the leaves of a stevia plant, a kind of herb. It’s extremely sweet and safe in its natural form. It has no carbohydrates, calories or any artificial ingredients and a very low glycemic index, so does not spike your blood sugar level. Stevia in powder or liquid form is easily available.
The papaya fruit contains two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. They can help with digestion, reduce inflammation and also improve gut health. Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant found in papaya, filters out harmful blue light rays. Papaya is also high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract. Also, it a good source of folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and lycopene, and pantothenic acid.
Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and have a potential to reduce gut inflammation and boost the immune system. Lemons are high in a fiber called pectin, which is a prebiotic that assists good gut health by feeding healthy gut bacteria.
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