More Americans are trying to lose weight today than ever before. According to a massive 18-year study of nearly 50,000 people published last year in the journal JAMA: Diabetes and Endocrinology, the number of adults over the age of 20 who have embarked on weight-loss plans jumped to 42.2 percent in 2016 compared to just 34.3 percent in 1999. The sobering news, however, was that the study also notes that a startling number of those efforts simply didn’t work at all—regardless of the fact that the weight-loss strategies evolved over time to factor in the latest science and research.
If you’re among the countless Americans who have adopted a dedicated weight loss plan and haven’t seen the results you wanted—whether it’s via a fad diet or cutting calories or trying to go full keto—doctors say there’s still hope for you yet. In fact, there’s at least one targeted weight-loss method you should definitely try before you consider giving up on losing that extra weight for good: Fine-tuning your diet to get your gut health in order.
For perspective, know that your body is actually home to roughly ten times as many bacteria cells as it is to human cells. They accumulate on your skin, in your mucus membranes, in your mouth, and all throughout your digestive system. (Be thankful your cells are much bigger than bacteria cells, or else you’d look a lot different.) “All of this bacteria perform vital protective, structural, and metabolic functions,” says Anthony S. Padula, MD, a rheumatologist and Gut Council Member for Jetson Probiotics. “Perhaps the most important bacteria are present in your gut as they produce hormones that can affect your metabolism, immunity, and behavior. There are trillions of bacteria living in your gut. Together with other microscopic organisms like viruses and fungi, they form your microbiome, which is unique to every individual.”
The bacteria in your gut have long been thought to serve one primary purpose: to aid in the digestion of food, helping you absorb the maximum amount of nutrients and ridding your body of any excess. What’s actually going on is a more delicate dance than most of us recognize, with the specific balance in bacteria in our digestive tract working as the deciding factor in who gets to enjoy an effortlessly fit body and who’s stuck trying to shave off the same stubborn weight year after year.
“In most folks, the microbiome is not a healthy place anymore,” says Florence Comite, MD, a clinician-scientist and founder of the Comite Center for Precision Medicine&Health in New York City. “It’s not healthy because our environment has changed and our gut is the largest organ in our body to interact openly with the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and the fact that we take antibiotics and our whole structure has changed.”
Making matters worse, when harmful bacteria take hold in your gut, your weight isn’t the only thing to suffer. Harmful gut bacteria are linked to the development of leaky gut syndrome, a condition in which toxins borne from your gut bacteria inflame your digestive tract. Once your digestive tract is sufficiently angry, microperforations can develop, allowing those toxic substances…
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