Rapid weight loss 'becoming much more accepted' says Mosley
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Having good gut health might seem like common sense, but many might not realise it has a big impact on their weight. If a person is struggling to shed the pounds, it could be because their gut health isn’t as good as it should be.
And GP, Dr Gill Jenkins from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service has revealed it differs from person to person.
She explained: “Latest research suggests that the gut microbiome influences body weight.
“In fact the gut microbiota may be different in obese people.
“Probiotics increase the diversity of gut microbes whilst the gut microbes ferment non-digestible food components (acting as prebiotics) in the large intestine to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate.”
She went on to explain that overall gut health controls people’s hunger levels, therefore curbing their need to overeat and snack – two key components when it comes to weight gain.
“These changes affect the proportion of energy (calories) derived from food, the production of biochemicals from the adipose (fatty) tissue, lipid (fat) metabolism in the liver, and parts of the brain and gut influencing hunger and satiety hormones,” Dr Jenkins said.
“Intestinal hormones influence blood sugar, increase oxidation of fatty acids in adipose tissue and reduce appetite.
“All these effects can contribute to healthy weight management.”
She offered her top tips for combating any issues people may have going on in their guts, revealing what foods they should and shouldn’t be eliminating from their diets.
Dr Jenkins recommended people consume a range of plant-based foods that are high in fibre while avoiding processed foods that are high in fat and sugar “as much as possible”.
Dietary fibre is an indigestible food component that acts as a prebiotic.
According to the NHS, Government guidelines say people’s intake of dietary fibre should be around 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet.
The expert noted that generally people eat around 20g per day, so encouraged further intake by eating specific foods.
She suggested adding beans, pulses, wholegrains, fruit, and vegetables to a person’s diet to boost their intake.
For those people wanting to lose weight quickly, she advised: “Emphasise bananas, onions, garlic, soybeans, artichokes.
“And if you are short of eating your 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables, plus on a diet, then bridge those dietary gaps with a multivitamin and multi-mineral supplement.”
Dr Jenkins recommended taking prebiotics and probiotics to encourage weight loss while looking after people’s gut health.
Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
She suggested galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin, adding: “These, like fibre, are fermented in the gut to produce SCFAs.”
These influence gut-brain communication and brain function directly or indirectly.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, they are “good bacteria that help keep you healthy”.
“Look for one with a wide variety of bacteria and take daily,” Dr Jenkins said.
“Research shows that probiotic bacteria do not last very long in the gut, possibly no more than 10 days, so take continuously.”
On the other hand, people can also consume probiotic foods and drinks.
These can come in the forms of quality yogurt, which are labelled with the probiotic bacteria it contains or kefir.
Dr Jenkins suggested to take continuously, alongside sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and kombucha.
Polyphenols are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants.
They are also a major active compound in tea, and can stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms and increase the production of SCFAs.
Dr Jenkins said: “Drink three to four cups of black or green tea daily for a range of health benefits, hydration and possible prebiotic effects.”
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