Gut check…did you know that your gut microbiome influences your weight? Yup, the bacteria in your gut affects how you digest different foods, what nutrients your body absorbs, how the energy from the food is stored in your body, and may even impact sugar cravings.
Research has shown that people who are overweight have altered microbial communities, or dysbiosis. One study looked at the gut microbiomes in 77 pairs of twins, one of whom was clinically obese and one of whom was not. The twin that was obese had lowered gut diversity, meaning there were fewer types of bacteria in the gut. Furthermore, when researchers transplanted bacteria from human microbiomes into mice, mice that received bacteria from the twin with obesity became obese and those that received bacteria from the normal-weight twin stayed at their normal weight, suggesting that bacteria in the gut strongly affects weight.
The Metabolic Flora Associated With WeightLuckily, scientists have studied which bacterial strains are better at breaking down starches and extracting energy, i.e. which strains influence weight, and they have focused on a few different flora.
Of course, we’re big fans of Akkermansia muciniphila here at Pendulum, but we’re not the only ones. Considered a keystone strain for gut health, researchers consistently see this helpful bacteria in slim people and lower levels of it in people who are overweight. Studies suggest that supplementation with Akkermansia can help decrease obesity and improve insulin sensitivity. So how do you increase your Akkermansia levels? Well, since Akkermansia feeds off the mucin in your gut, you can eat foods rich in polyphenols that create more mucin in your gut, which, in turn, creates a stronger gut lining. Talk about a win/win! Or you can take Akkermansia as a daily probiotic. If you’re thinking of taking Akkermansia, we suggest pairing it with a Polyphenol Booster for supercharged benefits.
Christensenella minutaAnother flora that’s higher in slim people and lower in overweight people is Christensenella minuta. Discovered in 2012, this bacteria is strongly correlated with healthy levels of triglycerides and HDL (the good cholesterol!), making it especially good for the heart. The best way to increase Christensenella in your gut microbiome is by eating a Mediterranean diet, that is a diet high in olive oil, raw vegetables, etc., and low in refined sugar. Christensenella is also reported to be higher in people with an omnivorous diet rather than a vegetarian diet, and has also been associated with dairy consumption.
Of course we know that being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean someone isn’t healthy. One gut flora found in these microbiomes is Coriobacteriaceae. Research has shown a higher amount of this gut bug in metabolically healthy, but technically overweight, people. Being metabolically healthy may make all the difference in avoiding obesity related conditions.
Clostridium butyricum is a butyrate-producing strain, which is a short-chain fatty acid produced when bacteria in the gut break down dietary fiber. It’s associated with a spectrum of health benefits including healthy blood sugar response, gut permeability, and immune function. Research has found that when given as a probiotic, it protects mice from developing high fat diet induced obesity, intestinal inflammation and enhances immune function and stability.
Some people have a harder time managing their weight, and now we know the gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolism. Knowing which flora can help with weight loss and overall metabolic health gives us yet another tool to getting—and staying—healthy, with diet and probiotics.