I’m pleased to present a post by Steve Tattershall this week. In this article “Best Gut Bacteria Weight Loss System” Steve shows us how to use the microbes inside us to help us lose weight.
Steve publishes the blog Fail-Safe Isolation, which provides detailed, practical information and tips about aspects of life and work that require isolation, or are needed when we are isolated.
Issues of healthy weight loss from changes in gut microbes relate to isolation in two important ways: First, the gut microbiota is isolated within each of us, and managing it is squarely in the scope of the science his site addresses; Second, this is closely related to health issues he has written about in his blog such as his Self-Care in Isolation article, and his personal experience with gut health manipulation when dealing with cardiovascular and autoimmune health. His great interest in the human microbiome, past writings on health and long experience with isolation make Steve Tattershall a great choice to have as our guest author this week.
It is a great privilege to share this article here on slimbrains.com. I thank you, and I thank Rawan for inviting me to join your discussion about health and healthy weight loss.
Within your digestive system is a collection of microbial life that makes up the most complex organ in the human body; your microbiome. Researchers are just scratching the surface, but it is clear that the gut and creatures in it have a massive impact on whom, what and how healthy we are. The fact is, you are far more than the 23 pairs of chromosomes you inherited from your parents.
You are a FARM
Your body is a vehicle and container for the trillions of creatures in the 2 to 5 lbs. (1 to 2+kg) of flora on you and in your gut. As the strategic decision maker over that body, you are the farmer that helps determine just what grows in your gut, helping to plan just how it will deal with disease, mood, and a host of other facets of who and what you are. One thing you can do as the farmer of your microbiome is choose to raise a fat farm, or a healthy one. We don’t have all the answers, and you don’t have absolute control of what grows, but you can operate your farm in ways that are more likely to accomplish your goals. Let’s cover a few steps to show how to run your farm with the best shot at success.
Step 1: Plan an abundant harvest
One thing is clear from studies comparing the healthy and trim with the sick and obese, is that an abundant gut community is good for your weight and health. Obese people studied had a small fraction of the quantity and diversity of flora in their gut, as the healthy slim or average weight people did. So you need to fertilize and feed your gut garden well, and avoid spraying it with toxic herbicides. Specifically:
A- Avoid antibiotics unless you REALLY need them; don’t take them when they won’t help, and don’t eat factory-farmed meat that is loaded with those drugs, as they will poison your garden. Processed foods full of preservatives are also likely to act like agent orange in your garden, so keep away from those, as well. Lastly, don’t drink chlorinated water – best to drink pure distilled, or water purified by reverse osmosis.
B- Fertilize them well, with fiber, the primary nutrient likely to make it all the way to the colon to support the good bugs; eat lots of leafy greens, and fermentable fiber such as found in inulin and whole grains of rice and oats.
It is very easy with a typical European or American lifestyle to screw up your gut garden with a lot of toxic chemicals well suited to kill off the flora that drive so much of your digestive, immune and other systems. Deciding to avoid routine exposure to most antibiotics and food preservatives/additives can do a lot to encourage and preserve the trillions of partners you have in running and protecting your gut garden.
Step 2: Plant the right crops
If you are fortunate, you have a very diverse set of fauna in your gut, right now; there may be as many as 40,000 species in your gut microbiome. Diversity is good, and it is important that you ensure the health and success of the most lean-friendly bacteria in your gut, if you plan to lose weight. If a course of antibiotics, processed foods or antibiotic-laden meat has killed off that crop diversity, or has killed the species you need the most, some serious planting may be needed.
We don’t know all the best crops for healthy weight loss, but we know enough to suggest good choices. You can count on these 3 important facts about gut support for healthy weight loss:
F1- Flora diversity is important – we need lots of species; studies have shown that slim healthy folks have 70 percent more flora than the obese, and they are far more diverse
F2- Bacteria called Christensenellaceae are associated with slim people as are Akkermansiaceae and less of those flora are typically found in the obese, so you want to seed them in quantity, if possible.
F3- Avoid starving the farm – too much empty calories like sugar and low quality fats will satisfy your hunger without supplying your garden because they never make it to the colon, eventually killing off much of the flora from starvation. It is important to feed them high quality fats like coconut oil, and high fiber foods, without the bad, sugary junk food.
When you need to seed your garden, the way to do that is by ingesting probiotics. Most authorities recommend kefir, sour kraut and kimchi as the probiotics of choice, though some studies show good results with Greek yogurt (even though most yogurt doesn’t have the bacteria that we want to maximize). While these fermented foods have been helpful, they may not produce results for you; another option is probiotic supplements. With fermented foods and especially with supplements it is important to check viability of the ones you choose; many will not have enough of the right live microbes to help. On her blog Allergies and your gut Joan Rothchild Hardin, PhD provides more detailed guidance on how to find and compare appropriate probiotic supplements. Visit here for that site.
If probiotics and lifestyle changes still fail to deliver results you need, another approach may be available; the new trend toward fecal transplants may offer options for getting enough of the right microbes where you need them. This is a relatively new and fairly experimental procedure, so if you need it, you may require a specialist or a research study, unless the procedure becomes more common than it is at the time of this article.
Step 3: Cultivate the crops
Your gut bacteria interact with each other, with food you eat, and with the environment you provide. They need the secretions, mixing, temperature and other environmental factors that your body provides when it is operating properly. For this environment to be friendly to the crops you hope to grow, you must do a few things regularly to keep them nurtured so they thrive. This cultivation activity includes:
C1- Feed and water them properly, so they have enough fiber (20 to 30 gm. per day) from fiber rich foods like leeks, jerusalem artichokes and whole grains and enough clean, pure water (typically 8 glasses per day) while carefully avoiding biocides, preservatives, chlorine and other toxins
C2- Give them a break each night with a fast of 14 hours or more, and enough sleep for the body (7 to 9 hours)
C3- Keep them in healthy positions with movement, like walking, exercising, standing and lying down – while keeping sitting at a minimum; sitting is as unhealthy and unhelpful for the gut flora as it is for the rest of your body. Your gut needs movement and exercise, as well as healthy posture, if it is to function properly for you and your garden
C4- Do periodic long fasts (24 to 36 hours) with plenty of water and very little food (under 600 calories) at least 6 times per month to reward the resilient microbes at the cost of the more stagnant ones
C5- Recharge & re-seed when needed if you become ill, eat the wrong food or your gut community goes off the rails for some other reason, re-seed the garden with probiotics as mentioned above, to restart the process. Many microbiota health advocates recommend probiotics weekly, daily or more often; since you and your gut flora are a unique combination, you should try with and without frequent re-seeding, to see what works best for you
Cultivating the crops was pretty natural for our hunter-gatherer ancient ancestors. They had to move to stay alive, had no place to sit or screens to watch, and they ate a varied diet with as much as 70 grams of fiber per day. Their environment was loaded with probiotics, which they continually ingested. Based on hunter-gatherer people studied within the last few years, it is clear that such a lifestyle results in rich and varied microbiota far healthier than is common in the most health-conscious of urban citizens of Europe or the US.
Modern, mass-produced food and public water is not designed to be kind to the community in your gut. If you are to gain the help of that community, your ‘Farm’ in your work towards health and weight loss, then it will take some extra effort on your part to make that happen. The chemicals added to food and water to protect us from food poisoning and cholera must be avoided so they don’t kill off our helpful flora. The deodorants, perfumes, antimicrobial soaps, dryer sheets and many other items in our household and business environments are also hostile to our microbial partners. A more natural, less perfumed and less chemical-saturated environment will be more friendly to your farm.
Short of fleeing from civilization, our best option will be a compromise, accepting a few toxic or antimicrobial exposures while avoiding most others. Not perfect, but hopefully adequate for the preservation of our garden and some success in the quest to attain and sustain a healthy weight.
Success and then?
Most of you who can follow the steps outlined above will achieve the weight loss needed to attain a healthy body mass, and will notice improvements in health and energy levels as well. A healthy gut community is a powerful asset for a person to have. I know this, as I began a similar process 3 years ago, and I lost 30 lbs while realizing significant improvements in my cardiovascular health, energy levels and arthritis joint health. I’ve maintained that healthy weight and the other health benefits since, simply by continuing the lifestyle changes after hitting my goal, while adding more food to my daily intake to stop the weight loss at a healthy target weight.
If you hope to get the most out of this weight loss system, I recommend that you consider adopting it as a new way to live, rather than simply a way to drop some pounds. Weight loss is a good idea, but health can last for a long lifetime. After you are no longer concerned with pounds, you are likely to be more focused on minutes; especially how many you have left. A healthy set of gut organisms will be a great asset in getting more of those minutes, and making the ones you have more fun. The tips on this site about how to stay motivated if you want to continue to keep healthy are powerful. Please check them out here.
Please let us know if you have questions, comments or personal experiences related to this article. There is a comment box below, and Rawan and I would love to hear from you.
About the author
Steve Tattershall consults and engineers medical isolation equipment in his role as Chief Technical Officer of Banthrax Corporation, a US- based manufacturer of medical and laboratory equipment used world-wide. A public speaker and published author, he has written, configured equipment and consulted on technology and healthcare extensively for the last two decades. After years of study of the human microbiome and ways to impact it with diet and lifestyle changes for health, he tests foods, drinks and recipes for his family and his own use. He also deals with related requirements in technical equipment applications. He blogs on isolation related matters including healthy living in isolation and under crisis conditions. Steve lives with his wife, Bonnie and 2 cats (Chip and Alberta) in Southwestern Ohio, USA.
Follow his blog at Fail–Safe Isolation
Note: Helpful images and facts in this article are quoted from the site Allergies & Your Gut. I would like to thank Joan Rothchild Hardin, PhD for allowing their use. Please visit her site for excellent in-depth information on gut related health information, news and tips.