As a society, we find ourselves retaining fighting weight gain as we desire and are unable to find a lasting solution. This more true now than ever before.
Over forty-two percent of US adults are overweight or obese. From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.
There are many questions about why this is happening…
Until recently we have all been duped by the myth that a calorie is a calorie. So we have ignored the fact that how we eat and feed our gut flora ultimately determines our body weight.
There is conflicting information in the medical literature and the media blaming the American weight gain epidemic on a sedentary lifestyle or on simply taking in more calories. The fact is that the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988 to 2010 reported no evidence of higher caloric intake over that period of time.
Of course, there many influences in our environment that are bad actors such as television marketing junk foods to children, and government subsidizing crops that ultimately become low-cost, highly-refined “processed” foods which are addictive, widely available and more accessible to those who are economically disadvantaged.
The fact is this: Unless we only consume food that we grow and raise ourselves, we are subject to industrial “processing” practices which that can severely disrupt our delicate inner ecosystem and portend toward obesity.
Obviously, we aren’t all going to start growing and raising our own food. So what’s the solution here?
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Let me first tell you what the solution is NOT.
Eat Less, Exercise More Doesn’t Work
Simply counting calories and ramping up your exercise is not a sustainable self-administered weight management solution. Here is exactly what happens to 95% of those who lose weight by “dieting”: there is what we call in the medicine “a failure of weight loss maintenance.”
Which means you may drop some weight by eating and less and exercising more, but you won’t be able to keep it off long term.
Why? As you “diet” you are burning both fat and fat-burning muscle. The result? You initially lose weight but then your body tells itself, “Hey, I am losing weight so let’s slow down our metabolism to halt the process”. As a result, you feel like you are swimming upstream against the current toward your body weight goals.
The body’s set point adjusts the metabolism to mitigate the weight loss process. Your body is designed to do this to keep you from starving to death under extreme conditions. But on a diet it challenges your ability to effectively shed body fat.
Dieting by literally starving yourself amps up your appetite. So resisting the intake of more food becomes increasingly more challenging.
No wonder effective weight loss is difficult to attain and sustain.
So if lowering calories is not the answer what is? If traditional dieting and exercising are not successful where do we turn to help?
Your Inner Ecosystem: The Real Key to Sustained Weight Loss
For centuries traditional medical systems approached health and healing by restoring gut balance and harmony. This drew my attention when deciding a career path.
After dropping pounds like a bad habit in my early 20’s I wanted to share my program with others as a doctor. In medical school and residency, I found the digestive tract fascinating and relevant to my personal weight loss success and pursued a career as a gastroenterologist. My mother was suffering from the irritable bowel syndrome at that time, and her recovery was facilitated by a nutrition-driven digestive health program.
These experiences profoundly influenced me.
Science has now connected gut function and its hundreds of trillions of microbes to many bodily functions which control our physiology and even our thoughts. (Sounds scary but it’s true!)
In the past 10 years there has been an explosion of research showing that these microscopic microbes collectively control our inner thoughts and behaviors, and in large part determine whether we are fat or thin!
How profound is that?
Indeed, the gut microflora control a number of metabolic processes, appetite, hormonal regulation, gut motility and barrier defense, inflammation and virtually every aspect of our physiology that determines our body weight. So how we eat and nurture or neglect these miraculous microbes determine many aspects of our health as well as our body weight.
So how do we know that these gut bugs are making mischief in our bodies and are a hidden cause of obesity?
There are numerous studies showing in animals and humans how eating a Western diet (high in fat and refined carbs, low in fiber) disrupts the balance of gut bacteria, favoring weight retention and fat accumulation. And transplantation of the gut flora from obese subjects into lean mice transforms them into obese creatures even when no other changes in diet are made.
Unless you correct the underlying imbalance in your gut’s inner ecosystem your appetite and metabolism will continue to frustrate you and ultimately you will surrender.
So what can you do to rebalance your gut flora, and protect your health while boosting your fat-burning metabolism at the same time?
3 Tips to Rebalance Your Gut Microbiome and Lose Weight
Before rebuilding your gut and restoring harmony and balance to your inner ecosystem, the first step is to simply recognize, remove and restrict the environmental agents that are harmful to your good gut flora that are discussed in detail in my book. Here are a few helpful hints:
Keep the use of antibiotics to a minimum. They disrupt the gut’s ecosystem. Antibiotics promote the growth of fat-promoting microbes in your gut. The disruption of the gut flora by antibiotics can last many months, even years.
Avoid sweets, even artificial sweeteners. All of them cause your gut flora to decay, stimulate appetite, and promote diabetes and weight gain.
Avoid highly processed refined foods. They are devoid of fiber which fertilize your fat-burning gut flora and instead foster a reduced biodiversity of your gut ecology which favors fat formation.
Start with these tips, and you’ll go a long way toward weeding out the fat-forming bugs in your gut. The next step is to fertilize the good bugs. In the next blog post I will discuss how to fertilize your gut flora and turn it into a fat-burning machine.
This article was written by Dr. Gerry Mullin.