Have you ever felt that your appetite and metabolism have been hijacked? Have you wondered why some people can eat whatever they want and you just have to look at food and gain weight?
The calorie-counting model is still predominant amongst dieters. Yet years of calorie counting have not had the desired effect on their weight loss efforts. Clearly, the “calories in-calories out” model does not work.
To truly understand the underlying forces driving appetite and weight is a new science about changes to the microbes inside your body! Yes, you read that correctly, the “bugs” that live inside you! Let me explain.
Did you know that 90% of the cells in your body are not human? There is a new frontier of medicine that has unfolded, and very few people are hearing about it. It is called the microbiome. The microbiome is the collective genomes of the microbes (composed of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live inside and on the human body.
We are used to thinking of bacteria and microbes as negative, as the source of disease and infection. Our new understanding is showing us that the microbes living inside us can also be a source of health, well-being and weight loss.
It turns out that we have 10 times as many microbial cells inside our body as human cells. These trillions of tiny microbes have an enormous influence on our overall health, our metabolism, our weight and even the expression of our human genes. These microbes digest food, control appetite, influence your mood, synthesize vitamins, metabolize drugs, detoxify toxins and activate and support the immune system. That’s a major player in our optimal health. So it makes sense that we learn how to keep the microbiome in balance!
The “bottom line” is that we are not just a person – we are an ecosystem. We have an entire microscopic world within us whose biology is central to our biology. To a large extent, the health of this microscopic world within each of us has a major influence on our:
So making sure these bugs inside us are healthy gives us the upper hand in improving our appetite, metabolism and weight. So let’s look at some simple steps to keep those bugs happy.
How Can You Keep Your Microbiome Healthy?
I am going to walk you through three beginner’s steps to keeping your microbiome healthy to keep your weight, metabolism and appetite in check. These three steps are adapted from the Functional Medicine protocol that is used to restore optimal health and it is called the Four R’s.
STEP 1 – Remove the foods and toxins that unbalance the microbiome
These include sugar and refined carbohydrates, eggs, gluten, grains, dairy, trans fats and hydrogenated fats, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and preservatives. Also excessive stress, genetically modified foods, heavy metals such as mercury, processed foods and meats from animals that are not organic.
STEP 2- Replace enzymes you need for optimal digestion.
Digestive enzymes with each meal can do wonders to get the full nutritional value from your food. You need to break down food effectively, otherwise partially digested food can wreak havoc in your small intestine and set up a cascade of inflammation and metabolism issues.
STEP 3 – Restore Healthy Microbes
The disruptive effects of processed food, medications and environmental factors can upset our microbiome. The more different species of bacteria that your microbiome contains, the healthier you are likely to be. A diverse microbiome is more likely to have enough of the right types of bacteria to do each of their jobs well. Probiotics are living bacteria that replenish our microbiome and you can find them naturally in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir and fermented vegetables. Prebiotics, by contrast, are foods that feed the healthy bacteria and include radishes, onions and jicama. This is a very brief list, but at least a way to begin.
The purpose of this article is to raise awareness and start you on a small step. Research into the microbiome is still in its infancy, but it is slowly being recognized by the world of medicine. It is definitely a paradigm shift in weight loss as well as our understanding of health and disease. I am excited about the possibilities to come and the direction we are heading, and you can expect to hear more from me about this exciting topic!
This article was written by Dr. Karen Wolfe and originally appeared on MariaShriver.com