//The Link Between Gut Health and Obesity

The Link Between Gut Health and Obesity

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What is making you, and most everyone else, so fat? A recent article in The Atlantic examined the increasing evidence that inflammation and gut health are directly responsible for how well your body does, or does not, process calories from the food you eat.

For generations, Americans have been following the old school theory that you have to eat less and move more in order to lose weight. But, if that were so, diets would actually work.

Nearly half of Americans, adults and children, wouldn’t be obese.

According to a report in May 2019 from U.S. News and World Report, it’s the finger-pointing aspect in our culture in relation to weight issues keeping us from making progress identifying obesity as a disease.

Science is proving there are larger factors that can’t be controlled by simple (or hard) willpower.

In a panel analyzing why weight is difficult to lose, Kevin Hall, an obesity and diabetes researcher, says a new study he co-produced points the finger at highly processed food.

A study published earlier this year in the medical journal Cell Metabolism, showed that patients who ate minimally-processed food with whole ingredients tended to not only eat less but lose weight without trying, compared to a group that did eat highly processed, pre-packaged “boxed” foods.

The complexity of obesity in the 21st century cannot be understated. It is costly, for the individual and society.

Healthcare costs increase by the pound.

Researchers have only recently shown that antibiotics given to livestock can kill off some of the microbes that occur normally in the gut and help livestock, and people, digest food.

By breaking down nutrients and helping them pass through the walls of the bowel, these microbes serve as a sort of gatekeeper between what is eaten and what actually makes it into the body, The Atlantic reported.

The consequences of killing off this gut bacteria can be grim. Just as antibiotics are associated with faster growth in cattle, a decrease in diversity in the human microbiome is associated with obesity. As the usage of animal antibiotics exploded in the 20th century, so too did usage in humans.

The rise coincides with the obesity epidemic, The Atlantic reported.

There is a growing body of evidence that our metabolic health is inseparable from the health of our gut microbes.

In 2006, Jeffrey Gordon, a biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, reported that the microbiomes of obese mice had something in common: compared with their skinny brethren, the chubby mice had fewer Bacteroides and more Firmicutes species in their guts.

Analyses showed this made the microbes better at “energy harvest,” meaning their ability to extract calories from food and pass it to the body most efficiently was directly affected by the microbiomes.

Even if the rats ate the same amount of food, the same types of food, depending on their gut health would determine how their systems processed the food.

Some got fat, some didn’t.

The same bacterial patterns have since been confirmed in obese humans.

What’s more, Gordon found, the microbiome associated with obesity is transferable. In 2013, his lab took gut bacteria from pairs of human twins in which only one twin was obese, then fed the samples to mice. The mice given bacteria from the obese humans quickly gained weight. The others did not.

What does this mean for you?

Become a student of your guts, for one. Eat whole foods. When you read the label, make sure you recognize every ingredient. Eliminate hidden sugars and chemicals.