Is Bacteria the Solution to the Battle of the Bulge?
This is the third article in Sara’s series on metabolism. The first article explains how blood sugar stability is critical for a healthy metabolism, the second article covers the role that stress plays in weight gain and disease. This article points to the role of the Microbiome.
We are told that if we want to lose weight, we just need to create a calorie deficit – so basically just eat less calories (energy in) than we expend (energy out). Makes perfect sense – so why doesn’t it work? It doesn’t work because our bodies aren’t calculators!
The human body just is not that simple – far from it. Stress, hormones like insulin, our activity level, and a number other factors – all impact how our body is processing those calories – including our microbiome.
Micro – bio – what?
Our microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that reside within and on our body. The human body is host to trillions of bacterial cells – in fact, it has more bacterial cells than human cells! A large percentage of these bacteria live in our digestive tract – often referred to as “our gut.” These bacteria are living organisms that interact with and impact our weight, immune system, digestion, disease risk, inflammation, brain health, mood, and more.
Just a mention of the word bacteria, might have you reaching for the antibacterial soaps, wipes, and sprays. We typically think about bacteria as causing disease. And yes, many bacteria are dangerous – especially antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). But we also need to realize that not all bacteria are bad, in fact – there are beneficial bacteria – the word probiotic literally translated means “for life.”
Gut Bacteria. It’s all About Balance – “Symbiosis”
When it comes to microbiome – it’s all about balance and diversity. Some of our bacteria are “good guys,” some are the “bad guys” (pathogens), while others are “neutral”.
Probiotics, Prebiotics and Post-biotics
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria strains which are created naturally during the fermentation process, found in our microbiome, and in supplements.
- Prebiotics are fibers that bacteria feed on. Found naturally in fiber-rich foods and some fiber supplements.
- Post-biotics are the byproducts of probiotic metabolism, and play important roles in digestion, assimilation of nutrients, immune system, and even disease prevention.