When it comes to weight loss, immunity, and all around health – it is all about the gut. Studies show that the microbiome — the ecosystem in our intestines — plays a much larger role in a wide range of conditions and diseases, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, psychological disorders and more. Fast food diets make people fat not just through excess calories but by killing off the gut bacteria that help people burn off their excess energy.
And a new study from Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, explains why long term weight loss is so difficult. You guessed it, it is because of the gut. Diets with just a few highly processed ingredients, rather than the dozens of foods found in a healthy diet, are so toxic to these bacteria that it takes only a few meals to wipe out hundreds of the species humans need to maintain healthy digestion, according to Professor Spector.
In his study, Professor Spector’s 23-year-old son, Tom, agreed to spend 10 days eating just McDonald’s burgers, chicken nuggets, chips and Coke. In that 10 days, the number of bacterial species in his gut reduced from 3500 to 2200. He lost almost 1/3 of the bacterial species in his gut – in 10 days!! After returning to his normal diet, the species did not come back right away. This research suggests that the increasing prevalence of obesity is more complex than simply eating too much.
Finally! An explanation as to why my friend can have a dinner of cake and skittles and lose weight, while I gain just watching her as I eat an apple…
Healthy diets are not about excluding things such as fat or sugar, or about eating lots of protein, a currently popular idea. Instead, said Professor Spector, they should simply be as diverse and natural as possible. Most people nowadays consume fewer than 20 separate food types and many, if not most, are artificially refined. Most processed food products come, depressingly, from just four ingredients: corn, soy, wheat or meat,” said Professor Spector. This is damaging the gut flora, causing weight gain, diabetes, heart conditions and more. “The promotion of restrictive diets that depend on just a few ingredients will inevitably lead to more reduction in microbe diversity and to ill health.” So stop eliminating so many categories of food – food is actually good for you. Eat it.
Fun fact, as I am writing this I am drinking a Pomegranate Kefir smoothie from Lifeway. It’s delicious and has a super food (pomegranate) and 7 billion probiotic CFUs of 12 different strains of bacteria all for 60 calories. Find out where you can pick some up here. Sayonara love handles!
Bottom line: Protect your gut and eat a rainbow.