When people who just can’t seem to lose weight come to see me, I don’t offer them pills or a surgical solution. As a naturopathic doctor, I try to help them focus on feeding their body the right way and a big part of that is how you treat your gut — the trillions of microbes that make up your microbiome. When that microbiome is healthy, you have a rock-solid gut. When it’s not, you’re in trouble.
Why is your microbiome so important? Eighty percent of your immune system is in your gut — and your gut microbes help to modulate this system’s activity. So treating your gut right — which involves prebiotics and probiotics — is the biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to having a slim, young, healthy body.
When your microbiome is healthy, your immune system works optimally, and that means you have a lower risk of getting colds, the flu, autoimmune problems, and even cancer. You also digest your food better, which means less gas and bloating and fewer incidences of constipation and diarrhea. What’s more, it means you’re getting the nutrients your body needs.
On the flipside, an unhealthy microbiome creates inflammation, which can eventually lead to “leaky gut,” allowing toxins and undigested food particles to escape into your bloodstream. This sends your immune system into hyperdrive, causing chronic, low-grade, system-wide inflammation that makes you fat and sick. It’s like a forest fire that never goes out. If you heal this inflammation, the pounds will fall off and you will feel more energetic.
Here are three things you need to know to maintain a healthy gut:
1. Trillions of good microbes live in your GI tract, and they need prebiotics to flourish.
Prebiotics are foods or supplements high in the soluble fiber that your gut microbes love to eat. Here are some of the best prebiotic foods:
- chicory root
- Jerusalem artichokes
I recommend taking prebiotic supplements if you lack these foods in your diet. This is particularly important if you need to take antibiotics, which kill off millions of good microbes along with the bad ones.
2. Your microbiome also needs beneficial bacteria and other good flora.
Here’s where probiotic foods come in; they contain live, beneficial microbes that will settle happily into your ecosystem, helping to build a diverse and well-balanced microbiome. Probiotic foods include:
- sauerkraut (the unpasteurized kind in the refrigerated section at the store)
- kimchi (available in Asian markets if you can’t find it at grocery stores)
- pickles (the unpasteurized kind in the refrigerated section at the store)
- coconut kefir
3. Anti-inflammatory foods are essential too.
Prebiotics and probiotics lay the foundation for a super-healthy gut microbiome. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods that soothe and heal your gut make it an even better environment for your hardworking microbes. Here are some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods:
- bone broth
- curry powder
- fatty fish
- green and leafy vegetables
- cruciferous vegetables
- green tea
When you combine the power of prebiotics, probiotics, and anti-inflammatory foods, your microbiome will keep getting stronger and healthier. As a result, you’ll lose weight, your hair will shine, your skin will look smoother and younger, and you’ll feel fantastic.
Check out these gut health promoting recipes:
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.