Weight Loss and Gut Bacteria

In my last post we discussed the exciting new field of research: the microbiome, aka our gut health. The microbiome and the friendly bacteria living there are the subject of a new book in the UK, which suggests that there’s more to weight gain than simply eating too many calories.

The Diet Myth

According to British scientist (and author) Tim Spector, of King’s College London, the reason for the global obesity epidemic is the lack of variety in the Western Diet.

In 20 years of studying 11,000 identical twins, Spector found that caloric intake was not  a significant indicator of weight gain. In some cases, a person who had dieted for 20 years weighed very similarly to her twin who didn’t restrict calories at all.

Spector, a genetics expert, contends that variety in food ingredients translates to a variety in gut bacteria populations, which in turn regulate our metabolism and health. The food many of us are eating today is derived from far fewer ingredients than in the past. This is  mostly due to highly processed junk and fast foods. Hello corn and soy ingredients!

This dearth of variety has led to a rise in certain types of fat loving gut bacteria that are associated with inflammation. A change can occur in as little as a few weeks of eating junk food. On the bright side, changing your diet to consume a wide variety of whole foods can restore the beneficial gut bacteria fairly fast.