Did you know your gut bugs affect your appetite?

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Having the right gut bugs can help to reduce your appetite and food cravings, making it easier to attain a healthy weight.

Your body weight is influenced by countless different factors. Losing or gaining weight depends on far more than just the calories you consume and the exercise you do. This is well known by our patients who struggle with their weight because of thyroid problems, a liver condition, sleep problems or an adrenal gland condition. New research has shown that healthy gut bugs send signals to your brain, telling it you are full.

A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism has shown that 20 minutes after a meal, bacteria in the intestines manufacture proteins that send satiety signals to the brain. If these proteins are injected into mice and rats, the animals end up eating less.

This is a brilliant natural appetite control mechanism that helps to keep animals or people within a healthy weight range. However, it only works if you have the right balance of bacteria living in your intestines. If you have unhealthy gut bugs or fungal overgrowth, they send signals to your brain making you crave unhealthy food such as sugar.

Yeast, streptococcus, klebsiella and clostridium are all examples of gut bugs that are harmful if found in high numbers in your gut. These bugs are all hungry for sugar and refined carbohydrates, which are quickly digested into sugar. Significantly limiting your consumption of these foods is critical if you want to improve your gut health, liver health and achieve a healthy weight. This can be very difficult if you don’t have enough good bugs in your gut.

If you have a parasitic gut infection you may experience heightened levels of hunger, and worse still, rarely feel satisfied after a meal. Many of our patients with gut infections tell us they could literally eat all day and still never feel full.

How to improve your gut microbiome and achieve a healthy weight

  • If you experience digestive disturbances such as abdominal bloating, gas, reflux, heartburn, constipation or diarrhoea, it’s important to be tested for an infection. Intestinal parasites or Helicobacter pylori could be responsible and require treatment. There are a variety of prescription antibiotics as well as herbal remedies that may be used.
  • If those tests come back negative, yet you still experience symptoms, the most likely cause is small intestinal bacterial or fungal overgrowth, or dysbiosis (too many bad bugs, not enough good bugs). The essential oils and berberine in BactoClear capsules all have antimicrobial properties and can help relieve indigestion.
  • Diet changes are necessary. Minimising sugar is important, as well as minimising all carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta and breakfast cereals. Some people need to cut down on FODMAPs in their diet. These are fermentable fibres and sugars found in plant foods which act as prebiotics. Onion, garlic, legumes, broccoli and stone fruits are all high in FODMAPs. In people with irritable bowel syndrome, they can cause significant digestive distress. That’s because if there are too many bad bugs in your gut, FODMAPs can feed them. Therefore a lower fibre diet may be necessary for a period of time. The slippery elm in Gut Health powder is low FODMAP and soothing to the intestinal lining. Gut Health powder also contains the beneficial yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii, which drives bad yeast and bad bacteria out of the gut.
  • Make sure you are eating satiating foods. An egg white omelette or chicken breast with salad are not satiating. Protein is the most satiating nutrient, but in order to promote fullness, protein needs to be consumed with fat. It is found in eggs, poultry, meat and seafood. Combining protein with fat and some vegetables (for bulk), helps to create satiating meals. Lamb, salmon, duck and eggs (including the yolk) are all very satisfying foods. Whey protein powder is a very concentrated source of protein, with virtually no milk sugar (lactose). Synd-X Slimming Protein powder contains additional glutamine and chromium, which help balance blood sugar and reduce carbohydrate cravings.
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