Problems losing weight? Start with your microbiome
Beach bodies and weight loss are hot topics each summer. But losing those extra pounds is a struggle for many people. What if a crucial piece of information was missing?! Did you know about the connection between the microbiome and weight? They are in fact so related, that scientists can tell if a person is lean or obese just by looking at the composition of their gut microbes [1, 2].
Besides wanting to lose weight to feel great in a swim suit, it is also relevant from a health perspective, as obesity increases the risk for metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. In the US, 37.32% of adults and 21.38% of children are obese (BMI ≥ 30) and even more are overweight . In 2020, 39 million children under 5 were overweight or obese worldwide. 
How the microbiome influences our weight
- It plays a central role in our digestion and metabolism
- Low microbial diversity can lead to obesity and microbial differences precede obesity 
- Different microbial compositions can be seen between lean and obese twins 
- Diverse gut microbiota are related to lower long-term weight gain 
- Gut microbes influence how energy from food is extracted and used 
- It affects inflammation, insulin resistance and energy storage in fat cells 
- The gut influences the brain, potentially altering stimuli for hunger and appetite 
Over the years, many studies found that diet, pre-, pro- and synbiotics, as well as fecal transplants are promising ways to combat the obesity epidemic. However, more studies and individualized approaches are needed. [5, 9, 10]
Stuck with being overweight?
If you are now thinking “Great, this means, I cannot lose weight, because I am stuck with microbes that make me gain weight”, don’t worry! Our microbiomes are greatly influenced by our lifestyle choices. Meaning, we can change them with what we eat, how we move and how we manage stress. It doesn’t even take too long. Research shows that gut microbial composition can rapidly change in response to dietary alterations .
How to lose weight in accordance with the microbiome
From a microbial perspective, eating fiber-rich foods, like veggies and fruits is a good way to start, as they feed the “good” bacteria. Also avoiding foods that are high in unhealthy “bad” fats and refined carbohydrates, as well as other processed foods and beverages like sodas, to “starve the bad bacteria.” This way, our gut microbes might just become the way of achieving the healthy weight we want.
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