Revitalize the intestinal terrain —your gut—with healthy nutrients your microflora need
We hear a lot about metabolism when talking about weight loss, but what is it?
The foods and liquids we take in (as well as the oxygen we breathe) all convert to energy our bodies need to process nutrients for growing tissues, making and regulating hormones, eliminating waste products, and so much more. Simply put, metabolism is the body’s ability to make energy.
Energy is something that we think of at the macro level, such as having low energy levels or feeling exhausted; but, in the micro sense, it is everything that allows us to live and breathe, including the life inside our cells.
One of the first steps for healthy weight loss is to increase the energy demand for fuel inside the cells and inside our intestinal terrain, where our microbes live.
This increased demand is often referred to as our “fat burning capacity”, and is really precipitated by what is called a “metabolic” reset starting point.
Without a metabolic reset, metabolism constantly stays at the same set point, and weight is static.
3 KEY Nutrients Your Microflora Need
For healthy, happy gut microbes that also have a healthy, demanding appetite, we want to feed them three key nutrients: water, fiber, and fats.
Water has zero calories and aids in detoxification. I am always personally surprised at how little water most people drink; in fact, when it comes to weight loss this is a critical part of weight management and overall health, since water is what helps us to flush out impurities and internal toxins.
Water is also a fundamental part of metabolism. It is the lubricant for how our cells operate, and it’s at the cellular level that we “metabolize” our food into energy. Our daily goal should be to drink a minimum of one half our body weight of water in ounces and to start each day with a full glass of water or lemon water.
Fiber maintains blood sugar by controlling how the body processes glucose. But it’s also what our microflora really want to eat. Think of fiber as the “pre-biotic” those teeny microbes, often labelled as “probiotics” actually want to eat.
Fiber is best from food sources like leafy green, fibrous vegetables as well as added in through seeds such as flax and chia, but a good quality fiber supplement is also a perfect addition to water, a protein shake, or sprinkled onto meals.
Fiber also decreases appetite because it creates bulk, and it also helps with detoxification because it stimulates and cleanses the bowels. A goal should be to take in a minimum of 24 grams of fiber every day.
Fats are broken down into two categories: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (beef tallow, ghee), while unsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature (olive oil, avocado oil).
Unsaturated fats are further broken down into mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and contain Omega 3s, 6s and 9s, which are found in foods like fish, walnuts, and flax seeds. One caveat: industrialized modern “seed oils” (unsaturated fat) are treated with high temperatures, which converts them into saturated fats, producing a trans fat that is pro-inflammatory, extremely toxic to the body and is considered to be a slow-acting poison.
Trans fats should always be avoided.
Toxins In the Food We Eat Contribute To Weight Gain
Our microbiome is a reflection of our gut’s total environment, called an ecosystem.
This ecosystem, called our gastrointestinal tract, or gut, is where billions of microbes digest proteins, fats, and carbs while also controlling and regulating many different processes including the production of hormones and vitamins—they even control and turn on, turn off and regulate our genes. Even the possibility of getting cancer or other diseases is regulated by our gut microbiome.
On the other hand, our microbiome is also being established and regulated by the foods we eat. This is why, in addition increasing the amount of fats, fiber, and water we consume, it’s also so important to eat organic produce and grass-fed organic meats—if the lettuces, fruits and vegetables (or beans, whole grains, and sprouts) we eat, or the soil it’s grown in, has been treated with pesticides and other chemicals, those toxins also go into our internal ecosystems, increasing its toxic load.
Toxins in the body get safeguarded out of the blood stream and shuttled into fatty tissues that allow our bodies to cling onto that weight.
When it comes to meat, industrially raised grain-fed animals are given antibiotics that promote weight gain—when we eat the meat of these animals, we’re getting high levels of growth hormones (pro-inflammatory) and we’re ingesting those antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our gut and allow the bad bacteria to overtake it.
Eating grain-fed, industrialized meat or taking antibiotics for extended periods (or both) increase the risk of obesity. Having a healthy gut microbiome by eating the right foods and supplementing with a variety of probiotics can help us lose weight while improving our overall health and wellbeing.
Regarding nutrition, increase water, healthy dietary fats, and fiber. At the same time, consider adding in foods that have high-fiber “pre-” biotic qualities, such as asparagus, and bitter greens like dandelion, endive, and so forth.
Action Steps: Take a minute to download my free guide. In it I reveal one of my best-kept secrets for weight loss. It’s a simple recipe I use every morning to not only fill the tank with the nutrients my body needs, but it helps me get into flow for a highly productive day.
If there’s one key takeaway for today’s exercise it’s this: The food we eat is likely to either trigger a hormonal stress response or it will provide our bodies the energy we need to lose weight (and heal). On top of that, if our microflora do not get the right kinds of nutrients they need to thrive, that will deplete the energy we need to burn fat. And finally, it’s an excess sugar (and poor carbohydrate metabolism) that creates excess energy in the body, which is then stored as fat.
Dr. Douglas J. Pucci, Founder, Get Well Now, is a functional medicine pioneer and Bergen County’s Face of Functional Medicine. He was honored to receive both The Best Of 2020 Awards for Functional Medicine in Oradell, NJ, and entry into Trademark Publications’ 2020 Who’s Who Directory, Honors Edition.