By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk
Did you know that your body is the home of trillions of microbes? And even more, did you know that these little critters are your friends and in fact an absolutely essential part of your health and wellbeing?
We all have an internal ecosystem made up of these tiny microbes that’s referred to as the microbiome. It is an important part of both our immune system and our digestive system. A healthy microbiome, or gut flora, has a lot of diversity and is capable of fending of any unwanted intruders. It also helps break down food and absorb nutrients. In fact, these good bacteria even produce vitamins and help eliminate toxins.
When our gut flora is not healthy, and there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria, a lot of problems can arise – from digestive issues to chronic inflammation and even autoimmune disease. Some bad bacteria, fungus and yeast can even cause inflammation in and of themselves. This low-grade inflammation can contribute to weight gain and cause obesity over time. So, if you are looking to lose weight, you have to start with your gut. It might not be enough to eat healthy and exercise if your digestion is not working well and you have chronic inflammation due to your imbalanced gut flora.
There are many reasons why our gut balance gets thrown off. One of the biggest culprits is the common use of antibiotics, both as medication and in our food supply. Antibiotics kill, not only the bad guys, but the good guys too! Other contributing factors include too much processed foods and sugar, toxins and pollution, things we are all exposed to from time to time, whether we like it or not. So, it’s well worth doing your part in re-populating your gut with healthy microbes.
Here’s a few ways to get your gut back on track and start losing weight:
1. Take a Probiotic
Taking a probiotic supplement is a convenient and safe way to add healthy bacteria to your gut. Probiotics literally means ‘pro life’ and is a great addition to a healthy diet.
2. Eat Fermented Foods
There are many traditional foods that many of us don’t eat anymore that happen to be packed with probiotics. Fermented foods and beverages such as kim chi, sauerkraut, kefir, kvass, lactofermented pickles or other vegetables all contain strains of good bacteria. Miso and natto are fermented soy products that also contain good bacteria. Add a tablespoon of at least one of these to your daily diet and your gut will thank you!
PS. Want to try making your own cultured vegetables? Here’s a great recipe.
3. Eat More Fiber
Fiber from fruits and vegetables are great pre-biotics – they act as food for the good bacteria. Fiber also helps bind toxins and eliminate them out of the body. Bonus, if you’re trying to lose weight, fiber is your friend. It fills you up and keeps you feeling full for longer. Fiber also helps slow down the absorption of sugar to your bloodstream, preventing those dreaded sugar highs and lows.
4. Do a Cleanse
A cleanse is a great tool for cleaning out the gut and starting fresh! A good cleanse should contain plenty of fiber to help eliminate toxins and herbs to help kill off the bad bacteria and support healthy liver function. The Be Well Cleanse is a great starting place for anyone looking to lose weight, because we start by treating one of the big underlying causes of weight gain – your gut!