Experiencing Weight Loss Resistance? Your gut bacteria may be to blame.
Today on the Harmony with Food Radio Show, I talked about how a specific bacteria called firmicutes can lead to obesity, and interviewed Ashley Kohn, CEO of Prevail Jerkey.
Can intestinal bacteria influence weight gain?
One of the biggest myths about obesity is that it is caused by laziness or overindulgence. While that may be the case for some, it isn't true for everyone. A lot of people come to me and tell me that they've tried everything and they still can't lose weight. Or that nothing has changed with their diet and exercise but they are gaining weight anyway.
Weight gain can be caused by your body reacting to all of the different stressors in your life. In response to stress, your body will source food to prepare for famine, and you'll gain weight. Some stressors are obvious, but others are silent and invisible.
There was a study out of Cornell university that showed the weight of mice could be changed by over 15% by just shifting their intestinal bacteria. Along with weight changes, the bacteria present changed the mice's chemistry and ways that could predict heart disease, high blood pressure, and risk for diabetes.
Related work has shown the same connection in intestinal bacteria also exists in humans. In fact, transplanting bacteria from the intestinal tracts of obese humans had been shown to trigger obesity in people who are a normal weight. So how can bacteria cause weight gain and how can you make sure you have the right bacteria?
Bacteriodetes and Firmicutes
99% of our intestinal bacteria are unable to use oxygen. bacteria that can't use oxygen are called anaerobes. This is important because all the foods with bacteria like sour cream, yogurt, and pickled foods, as well as all the bacteria and probiotic supplements only containing bacteria that live in oxygen, these foods and supplements are great for you, but they may have little to no effect on anaerobic bacteria.
The two bacteria that have shown in research so far to affect weight the most are the bacteriodetes and the firmicutes. These are both anaerobic bacteria. If you don't have the proper balance of firmicutes and bacteriodetes, you will have a higher risk of obesity.
These two bacteria play a role in how much fat we absorb. We want to have a higher ratio of bacterodetes than firmicutes.
In one study, the abstract says that our gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria that play a role in our metabolism. It is believed that the distortion of bacteria that is seen in obesity and metabolic syndrome turn on the expression of genes related to lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, which leads the body to take in more energy (calories) from the diet.
Firmicutes impact sugar and fat metabolism, and people with greater amounts of firmicutes are more overweight, have more body fat, and are more likely to develop metabolic conditions, including diabetes. Eating more of the foods that create more firmicutes also increases markers of low-grade inflammation.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive issues, you may have an imbalance of firmicutes which will lead to weight gain. The weight gain can lead to inflammation, which can lead to hormonal problems, which can lead to more weight gain.
Possible Causes of Weight Gain
Beyond your gut bacteria, here are a few other reasons you may be experiencing weight gain:
If you eat too much, even food that is considered good for you, you can gain weight. Take a real look at what you are eating, sometimes you may be in denial about what the real culprit is.
Sedentary lifestyle. We live in a world where we sit at desks for 8+ hours a day, then come home and sit on the couch. Make sure you are making an effort to move every day.
Gut health issues. In last week's episode, I talked a lot about constipation and how it can lead to weight gain. This is true for almost any digestive problem.
Interview with Ashley Kohn, CEO of Prevail Jerky
In the second half of the show, I interviewed Ashley Kohn from Prevail Jerky. Now if you've listened for a while, know that I don't often bring people on from food companies or do sponsorships, but I love Ashley's product and her story so much I had to have her on the show!
What Inspired Ashley to Start Prevail Jerky
Ashley grew up in the 70s in Utah and like many of us, at the typical diet filled with processed foods and pesticides. Over the next 30 years, she developed multiple food allergies and early onset rheumatoid arthritis and gout. She got to the point where she was on many different medications and having more and more allergic reactions, so she decided to try to heal her body with food.
Her husband started making her jerky as a high protein, low sodium, low sugar snack with natural ingredients and she loved it. They quickly realized there was no one else making jerky that was top-8 allergen-free and using high quality-ingredients like grass-fed beef.
What Starting a Business Was Like
Ashley said that starting Prevail was crazy, but her own kids had the same food allergies as her, so she was motivated to provide an option that tasted good. Ashley and her husband felt that it was really important to them to show that you can have delicious, flavorful food on the go that is high protein, low sugar, and has simple ingredients. You can read all the ingredients, and see it's just organic spices.
Ashley's Late in Life Celiac Disease Diagnosis
It wasn't until after she began healing her gut on her own that Ashley discovered that she had Celiac Disease, which made a lot of sense considering that she wasn't fully absorbing nutrients from her food and was experiencing inflammation.
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the microvilli in the intestine when you eat gluten. People with Celiac Disease don't just have to avoid gluten, they have to be really diligent about making sure they aren't exposed to it. This means avoiding many restaurants, not sharing cooking utensils, reading labels, making changes to their medications and skin care products, etc.
If you have unresolved digestive problems or even skin problems or migraines, it is worth asking your doctor about testing!