By Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali
In my last article, I explicated the role of Gut Microbiota in weight management and overall well being. If you’ve read my previous article on Gut Microbiome then you’d be convinced by now that the Gut Microbiome is the key to our overall health and success in weight management. We always knew that the bacteria were present in our intestines, but now we know that these little critters are responsible for a lot of things, such as food cravings, extraction of calories, and regulating of hormones. These tiny microbes go about their business in the dark hollows of our gut. However, we show them no care and do absolutely nothing for their well-being. Studies have proved that our gut microbiome plays an excelling role in controlling weight gain and regulating our hormone levels (Petschow, et al., 2013; Lin, et al., 2012).
Hence, it turns out that people who are in perfect shape and health have a diverse microbiome as compared to those who are obese or overweight. You’re out of shape, and unhealthy because your gut flora is not pleased with you. If you’re exercising then I’d say keep at it, but you also need to make some adjustments to your daily diet to produce results. Although, eating less and exercising more might result in minor changes to weight, however, the bad bacteria that is born inside your gut thanks to your unhealthy eating habits will not only remember the time you were fat, but it will do everything within its power to take you back to that state. Hence, the good bacteria turned bad will have a hard time adjusting to the new diet, and will trigger unwanted cravings, such as forcing you to pick a handful of sweets, or making you want to have a few donuts right after your workout. Therefore, the gut flora does positively react to the change in diet (Heiman and Greenway, 2016), but it does not happen overnight.
I’m going to recommend six foods that you need to add to your daily diet. Among these six foods, three are categorized as high in prebiotics that feeds the tiny critters working for your health, and the remaining three are high in probiotics that contain good bacteria to reinforce your army of gut microbes.
FOODS HIGH IN PREBIOTICS
- Raw/Cooked Onion
The Raw or Cooked Onion is a great source of prebiotics. There are countless ways to enjoy these delights of the earth. You can add them to your vegetable soup, or your salad.
- Raw Garlic
Eating raw garlic is the best way to gain a high amount of prebiotics. Just crush a few cloves of fresh garlic and add it to your salad, or just simply chew on a few cloves every day.
- Raw Asparagus
When it comes to ingesting a high amount of prebiotics then eating raw is the way to go. Raw Asparagus is the best source of prebiotics that feeds your good bacteria, which helps control your weight. So the next time you make a salad, then don’t forget to add loads of asparagus to your plate.
FOODS HIGH IN PROBIOTICS
- Unsweetened Yogurt
Yogurt is the best source of probiotics. Read my article ‘10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Adding Yogurt To Your Daily Diet’. A health study has proved that probiotics found in yogurt called ‘Lactobacillus’ help obese people reduce weight to a significant level (Sanchez, et al., 2014).
Kefir contains a diverse range of healthy bacteria called ‘probiotics’. Kefir is packed with nutrients, and it also improves your bone health. A recent health study proved that subjects ingested with Kefir for eight weeks experienced significant weight loss, reduced BMI and waist-circumference as compared to others (Fathi, et al., 2016). Buy Kefir Grains from any local grocery store, and transfer the active Kefir grains to 4 cups of milk. Cover it with a butter muslin secured with a rubber band, and let it sit for a while in a warm spot until thickened. Add the Milk Kefir to any smoothie or just drink it straight up.
Sauerkraut is made through the process of lacto-fermentation. There are good bacteria present on the surface of the cabbage, and among these bacteria is the most famous one called ‘Lactobacillus’. When you cut the cabbage into thin slices and soak it in brine, the bacteria present on the cabbage begins to convert the sugar present in the cabbage into lactic acid. Hence, the process not only increases its shelf life, but it also increases the number of healthy bacteria called probiotics. You can make brine using Apple Cider. Take a spoon full thrice daily, or add it to your post-workout meal.
The bottom line is that if you keep these little critters happy, then they will help you reduce your weight and improve your overall well being.
Fathi, Y., et al., 2016. Kefir drink leads to a similar weight loss, compared with milk, in a dairy-rich non-energy-restricted diet in overweight or obese premenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. European journal of nutrition, 55(1), pp.295-304.
Heiman, M.L., and Greenway, F.L., 2016. A healthy gastrointestinal microbiome is dependent on dietary diversity. Molecular Metabolism, 5(5), pp.317-320.
Lin, H.V., et al., 2012. Butyrate and propionate protect against diet-induced obesity and regulate gut hormones via free fatty acid receptor 3-independent mechanisms. PloS one, 7(4), p.e35240.
Petschow, B., et al., 2013. Probiotics, prebiotics, and the host microbiome: the science of translation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1306(1), pp.1-17.
Sanchez, M., et al., 2014. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1. 3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(8), pp.1507-1519.