Weight Management and Your Microbiome

Microbiome Cartoon

What follows is information, plus my thoughts (italics and underlined) from a presentation that Kiran Krishna presented at “The Metabolism & Weight Loss Summit” that took place in early October ‘15. Kiran is scientist at MegaSporeBiotic and was discussing “Weight Management & Your Microbiome.”

Obesity and the difficulty losing unwanted weight is becoming, actually has become epidemic in Western cultures such as the U.S. The timing of this information along with my recommendation of the MegaSporeBiotic™  product is purely coincidence or the universe doing what the universe does.

What is the “microbiome?” It is essentially the totality of all microorganisms and all the genetic elements which exist within the host in this case, us. While we understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between ourselves and this microbiome, we also recognize that there exists an important balance within the microbiome itself.

You most likely know of individuals who appear to be able to eat just about anything and never put on weight. In the past we have been told that they possess a “fast metabolism” and we did not really question it though many wish they had such an affliction. Current advances in science has come to recognize that it is much deeper and more complex. In fact, how efficiently you metabolize for or burn the food as energy rather than store it as fat for future use is highly impacted by the composition of your microbiome.

What we know is that the average human contains hundreds of trillions of organism which are not human by nature. We are told that there exists more foreign organisms in the human body than human cells. This is not technically true. Most foreign organisms exist within our gut especially the colon. Our intestinal tract runs from mouth to anus and is a tube running through the body. Until something passes through the mucosal lining of the gut is not truly inside the body. Within the bacteria that inhabit our gut or digestive tract there exists thousands of different bacterial species. Ideally we should have roughly 85% good/friendly bacteria versus 15% bad/enemy bacteria. Until recently we were only really concerned when health problems arose that were serious enough to warrant a pathogenic stool test to discover what bad bugs were present then we chose how to deal with them, typically with potent antibiotics even though there exists very effective and much less damaging natural protocols. What we now realize is that we should be considering the composition of the good bugs and discover what insight into the health building process they can provide.

It is scientifically known that particular bacteria will increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and even certain forms of cancer. Of course your typical doctor is mostly unaware of this fact, much less knows what to do with the information.

How does the microbiome relate to weight loss? It has been found that there exists a bacterial group, fermecate. When the fermecate bacteria exist in a quantity or ratio that is too large a shift in metabolism occurs. Essentially, this fermecate dominance allows the body to draw more calories, up to 300 to 400 more calories out of any given meal. Most energy (calorie) production or absorption is performed in the small intestine. When you have fermecate dominance these additional calories are being drawn out from the food stuff in the large intestine or colon. In addition, not only do these individuals extract more calories from food, the bacteria also alter hormones so that fat storage is the preferred destination for the extra calories. Seriously, the body is amazing in what it is capable of. This is me just thinking, but this shift in metabolic capabilities while unneeded today in a society where food is abundant, would have or could have been very desirable in times of famine.

If you have two people, identical twins eating the same meals every day for a week, the one with fermecate dominance could gain a pound or two of fat over the course of that week. While this initially appears unlikely, this is exactly what some studies have seen when the only physiological difference found was the amounts of fermecate bacteria present. If this is the case, no amount of dieting and exercise will override the bacteria without creating other health problem cascades in the long term. I am wondering if you have too little fermecate or too much of another “family” of bacteria if that would create an opposite effect of the metabolism burning too much fat or even lean tissue which can prove to be a health issue?

Is it possible to know what microbiome we have, can you test for it. Typically no, at least not with any consistency. The most common method is stool testing. The challenge is that there is no easy way to extract a comprehensive sample of the bacterial totality to study. This results in false negatives and even if positive, there is no way to know just how much fermecate is present and in what ratios to “lean” bacteria. You would have to make assumptions.

Can our microbiome affect cravings? The microbiome has a significant influence upon our behavior through the vagus nervous system. The lining of the gut is covered by something we call the enteric nervous system. Everything from mouth to anus is covered by nerve fibers. Those nerve fibers collect or gather into what is called the vagus nerve which connects directly to the brain. The gut is the only system that can function independent from the brain. The gut has more control over brain function than the brain has over gut function. The bacteria influence behavior to further propagation by creating specific neurotransmitters, proteins and peptides. Neurotransmitters and peptides have been discovered which can effect your outlook on life, what foods you crave, the behavior choices you make and this is all from gut bacteria. In a round about way, bacteria can make you eat that cupcake that you know you should not consume.

This situation with the enteric system is interesting in that something similar can occur with certain parasites and even viruses which can influence the brain and behavior.

Can you have healthy short term weight loss much less long-term success without addressing the micro biome? Studies appear to say no. Balancing the microbiome has to play a role in any health building process. All disease essentially begins in the gut. You do have to ask why is the gut so unbalanced in the first place. Getting the bacteria into the gut is vital, but it has to be able to take root and propagate. The terrain of the gut must be favorable or habitable to the good bacteria.

What may trigger or interfere with building/maintaining a microbiome balance? The biggest disruption in microbiome is the use of antibiotics. The more antibiotics you have taken over the course of a lifetime, the more likely there exists a bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis) and altered gut terrain that will manifest in some way outwardly. Once this change occurs, if it is not purposely corrected or healed it snowballs and get progressively worse. You can literally think of it as a battle between two factions, where each group is attempting to terraform the environment to be more conducive to its own survival. The problem is that you are the landscape that this battle is taking place on. The following issues can initiate a change in the gut or take advantage of an existing imbalance and make things worse.

  • Pathogenic infections and infestations
  • Biofilm build-up and increased mucosal permeability (leaky gut),
  • Heavy metals
  • Environmental toxins and pollutants
  • Malnutrition and/or an inappropriate diet for your metabolism, anti-biotic usage history and weather you had a
  • C-section or non vaginal birth
  • Not being breast fed
  • Functional / microbiome  health of the mother

An interesting fact about child birth. An infant’s first exposure to bacteria is not in the womb it is upon exiting through the vaginal canal. Second is through breast feeding. If you did not experience these two events it is practically guaranteed that you have increased likelihood of a dysfunctional microbiome. Now just because you may have had a vaginal birth and were breast fed it does not mean you are safe. If the mother had a bacterial imbalance, it was most likely passed on to you. This also applies to heavy metals and toxins – you can refer to an earlier post about the “Body Burden”.

You can have one or more of these issues present. If you want health results you have to consider just about all of them, and more.

Consider how so many people blame genetics for their health challenges. Is it really genetics or is it a passed on trait starting from birth? While you can’t change the genetics you can change the micro biome ecology. To change the ecology, one must take responsibility and be an active participant in the healing process.

What should I NOT do?

Extreme dieting will cause weight loss but it is temporary. The reason is it does not restore metabolic balance/function much less positively impact the micro biome in any profound way. Plus, you will experience the effects of malnutrition.

Eat the wrong foods. Food can greatly impact your microbiome. Food acts like a fertilizer. Food can feed the good bacteria or the bad. Stay away from preservatives, gums such as carrageenan, simple sugars specifically. Xylitol and inulin can be a problem. All artificial sweeteners are harmful. especially if you have SIBO and/or IBS. Another way to look at this is that the consumption of any food or food-like product that did not exist 10,000 plus years ago is most likely bad for the microbiome.

How DO I change my microbiome?

Remove, eliminate or minimize greatly exposure to chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride, environmental pollutants especially those associated with industrial toxins. Functional Testing is available to check for heavy metals and environmental pollutants

Resistant starch can play a positive role by making it past the small intestine and into the colon to interact with the bacteria present and turned into short chain fatty acids and play a role in fat metabolism (increasing it) and in leptin production (satiety). Helps fix metabolism through fermentable carbohydrates. If not met, then craving increase. This topic of resistant starch will be investigated in a future blog post

Increase plant foods: Increase plant source carbohydrates, high fiber (soluble and insoluble fiber) vegetables, cruciferous veggies and roots (tubers – sweet potatoes, maca, yucca, beats). Diversity of veggies and quantity is important. In this day and age consuming more than 10 different types of vegetables a week is an accomplishment.

Animal protein: meat and eggs are vital. All neurotransmitters are made from amino acids from protein. Gabba is one important neurotransmitter impacting mental energy, mood and handling stress. Plus the liver requires protein for a proper detoxification process.

Healthy fats: Fat is important especially MCT (medium chain triglycerides) such as those found in tropical fats (coconut). MCT stimulates fat burning. The same applies to fats in animal products. Whatever you do, stay as far away from process plant based oils such as canola, corn, soy, vegetable, etc. They are very harmful to the body.

Intermittent fasting is a good option as long as blood sugar can be managed along with overall mental/emotional and physical function. If the body is already malnourished, this can backfire as the body attempts to hoard anything it can get its hands on and sacrifices less important function in an attempt to survive. Studies have shown, especially in rats, that a daily 16 hour fast greatly helps restore microbiome balance. If you are having health challenges that significantly impact your daily ability to function, this is not encouraged and should be under the guidance of a health practitioner.

Purposeful calorie restriction. High calorie meals release gram negative compounds which release LPS (lypopolysaccharides) an endotoxin creating great inflammation in the gut, opening up junctions within the mucosa and creating an endotoxic response (leaky gut markers make it into general circulation and create low level but chronic inflammation). If you are to attempt restricting calories, you have make sure that you are consuming as much nutrition as possible within those calories to meet the daily requirements of your body’s unique metabolism otherwise less important functions will be sacrificed and your health will suffer.

Conclusion (my thoughts): The health and function of your gut specifically the microbiome is a central factor contributing to the degree of health or lack of health you manifest. This has been known for thousands of years. It is only recently that we have scientifically shown just how true that concept is. The question though is always the same; what do I do about it? There is no definite way to test specifically for this imbalance between “fat dominance” or “lean dominance” bacteria. What we can do and safely assume is that if you have health challenges then you most likely have some degree of dysfunction within your digestive system//gut.

As I have mentioned before, you need to do “all the right things” while reducing and eliminating “all the wrong things” to allow the body’s innate health building program run itself. That is essentially what I offer and coach as an FDN® Practitioner and as part of the D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success® Lifestyle Grounding Program. Using functional lab work and the tools available I dig below the surface, turning over every stone to discover and take advantage of every healing opportunity possible. Of course, you have to play an active role in this process. I can’t heal you, but you can heal yourself.

 

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