Last updated September 7, 2017 by Lisa Richards, CNC

Does An Imbalanced Gut Cause Weight Gain?

Gut flora and weight gain

Have you noticed all the talk in the media about gut health recently? It’s finally moving into the mainstream, which is amazing news for many people with gut-related health problems like Candida. The research has been building up for years now, and it seems that it’s finally reached a tipping point where mainstream medicine is starting to pay attention.

Gut health has gone from a niche interest to something that is widely acknowledged as crucial to vitality and wellbeing. An imbalanced gut flora is not just an inconvenience — it’s a serious malfunction in your body that can have consequences in multiple areas of your body.

We’re going to examine one of those consequences today. A Danish study from late 2016 takes a close look at the link between intestinal microorganisms and obesity. Could your gut flora be making you fat? Let’s take a look!

Your Gut Flora Can Affect Your Metabolism

The link between gut dysbiosis and weight gain is fairly well established. This recent study takes a different approach, but gets just the same results.

Researchers started with 32 children — half of them overweight and half at a healthy weight. The researchers took samples of their gut flora and transferred them to 64 specially-bred mice that had no bacteria or yeast in their intestines. The mice were fed a consistent diet, and evaluated for changes in weight and metabolic differences.

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The result was exactly as you would expect. Half the mice received their gut flora from the overweight kids, and these mice were more likely to gain weight than those mice who received their gut flora from the ‘healthy weight’ kids. The difference in weight was judged to be the result of dietary fiber — the overweight mice were digesting this fiber more aggressively than the normal-weight mice.

The study also picked up on some other differences between the two sets of mice. They had differing abilities to convert carbohydrates and fats into energy, and there were also variations in the levels of insulin.

Gut Flora And Your Health

It is estimated that the microbes in our bodies outnumber the human cells. Recent estimates suggest that there are slightly more microbes than human cells, whereas one older study claim an incredible 10:1 ratio. Is it any wonder that a change in the balance of these microorganisms can affect your health?

There’s no doubt that the average person today is more overweight than the average person of one hundred years ago. This is usually explained away as the result of dietary changes and lack of exercise. But what if long term changes in gut flora are the reason?  These changes might be triggered by antibiotics, stress, or pathogens like Candida.

We know that overweight people have a different gut flora composition than people of a healthy weight. And it seems clear from the research that a gut imbalance can lead to weight gain. It seem logical that fixing your gut flora would help to change your metabolism and could, in some circumstances, encourage weight loss.

How To Fix Your Gut Flora

Are you struggling to lose weight? The traditional methods, like reducing caloric intake and doing more exercise, are certainly a good solution. But if these methods don’t work, it might be worth taking a look at your gut flora.

There are diagnostic tools that you can use to identify specific imbalances in your gut flora. A Comprehensive Stool Analysis will look for markers identify pathogens like Candida albicans, C. difficile, and H. pylori. But a test may not be necessary. If you have regular loose stools or digestive problems, the chance of your gut flora being imbalanced is quite high.

The best way to rebalance your gut is to take lots of probiotics. These can be in supplement form, such as the commercial probiotics that I recommend here, or they can be probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt.

When taking probiotics, watch out for something called a Herxheimer reaction. Otherwise known as ‘die-off,’ this occurs when large amounts of bacteria or yeast are killed and release their metabolic byproducts. It can happen when you take large amounts of probiotics that prompt a change in your gut flora. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with a small amount of probiotics and increase in gradually.

There are other dietary and lifestyle changes that will help to restore balance to your gut. Reduce your stress levels, cut back on your caffeine intake, and eliminate added sugars from your diet. Antifungal foods and supplements can be helpful to weaken an overgrowth of pathogenic yeasts like Candida.

Dr Wood and I discuss all of these strategies, and much more, in the Ultimate Candida Diet program. It comes with more than 50 recipes, many of which incorporate probiotic and antifungal foods to boost your gut health.

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