The Secret to Healthy Weight Is In Your Microbiome
Diets, exercise programs, weight loss supplements…why aren’t any helping you manage your weight? The answer may lie in your gut, as the trillions of microorganisms known as the gut microbiome determine nutrient absorption and energy metabolism.
Poor food choices, irregular eating patterns, a sedentary lifestyle, and stress disrupt the process of extracting nutrients from your food. You’ve taken probiotics after taking a course of antibiotics to restore good bacteria in your gut to benefit your immune health and wonder what role the gut microbiome plays in maintaining a healthy weight.
How does gut health affect weight gain?
The gut microbiome is an ecosystem of tiny bacteria, a living layer connecting our internal milieu to the outside world. The balance of the human gut microbiome is closely tied to digestive health, immune system function, and body composition,
A disturbance in the gut's probiotic diversity is called gut dysbiosis. An increase in harmful bacteria stimulates chronic inflammation and one's tendency to obesity, diabetes, allergies, and autoimmune diseases . The gut microbiota composition differs between lean and obese people. Studies show that a ratio of two major types of bacteria, called firmicutes and bacteroidetes, plays a role in whether or not we gain weight.
Gut microbes consume complex carbohydrates, but research published in Cell Host & Microbe shows that they also influence fat metabolism. Firmicutes are involved in fat absorption and are more abundant in people who consume a diet rich in fat and sugar. It’s not hard to imagine which bacteria dominate the standard American diet. Therefore, restoring gut microbiome balance for a healthy weight takes time and requires making new food choices and changing lifestyle habits.
Healthy foods for a healthy weight
Eating Mediterranean style is the best choice for a healthy gut microbiome  and a healthy weight. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high dietary intake of olive oil, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, a moderate intake of fish and poultry, and a limited intake of dairy and red meat. The Mediterranean diet is rich in prebiotic fiber with more vegetables, whole grains, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic, and chicory. While some of these prebiotic choices may not be very appealing for some, there is a tastier, sweet, and tangy source of prebiotic fiber, Baobab fruit powder.
Studies on Hunter-gatherer societies such as the Hadza in Tanzania – whose diet includes baobab and are physically active show excellent gut microbiome diversity and a very low prevalence of obesity.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-three fatty acids from fish, algae, and olive oil have anti-inflammatory benefits. Omega-three fatty acids also play an essential role in preserving gut health, increasing the presence of bacteria called Akkermansia, which help prevent weight gain, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
When to eat and not to eat
Americans are snacking more than ever which disrupts the body's rhythm of digestion, nutrient absorption, and energy production. According to the Journal of Nutrition, timing our food intake matter for weight loss. People who eat more than three meals daily and choose dinner as the largest meal of the day have a higher BMI ( Body Mass Index). On the other hand, researchers found four factors that were associated with a decrease in Body Mass Index
- eating only 1 or 2 meals per day
- maintaining an overnight fast of up to 18 hours
- eating breakfast
- making breakfast largest meal of the day.
Fasting Improves your metabolism.
Circadian fasting restricts eating to daytime hours from 7 am to 7 pm. It encourages people to make breakfast the largest meal of the day and eat a light dinner within a window of 12 hours. Eating less can improve gut microbiome balance and help you lose weight and live longer. 
Sleep helps with weight loss.
Sleep is another crucial element to consider for a healthier weight. Sleep deprivation affects hormone balance. When ghrelin, the hunger hormone, outpaces leptin in the body, it triggers food cravings. Sleep is a time when the body repairs itself. It allows melatonin and growth hormones to stimulate muscle and protein synthesis and break down fat.
Late-night eating reduces sleep quality and interferes with the body’s regular melatonin and growth hormone production. [12,13]
Research into the effect of skipping breakfast showed a disruption in the cortisol rhythm and elevated blood pressure. Breakfast is the most important meal, and a smoothie with protein, fats, prebiotic fiber, and polyphenols can be a great way to start the day (check out Baobab/berry power smoothie.) [14,15,16]
Nothing feels better than a walk in nature. It relieves stress and puts us in a better mood. It should not come as a surprise that movement in green spaces improves immune health and hormone balance. It can also add to the diversity of your microbiome  in the gut and skin. If you have not been active for a while, gradually work your way into a regimen that alternates between weight training and walking, biking, or swimming. Working with a trained professional can also help put you on the path to better fitness.
Start a daily breath work and meditation practice to calm the mind. Meditation helps us to be in the moment and builds resilience. According to research published in BMJ 2014, breath work poses the added benefit of weight loss as we breathe out the fat we lose. Mindfulness can also be incorporated into the way we eat. Eating without distractions, chewing more slowly, and enjoying our food increases satiety faster. 
The gut is the interface between our inner world and our environment. We can achieve better health and weight by eating a Mediterranean diet, increasing our prebiotic fiber intake, and limiting meals to the daytime.
Here are ten suggestions of where you can start:
- Eat breakfast as your largest meal for the day; consider the Baobab Berry Power Smoothie.
- Emphasize a Mediterranean diet, balanced protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Increase prebiotic fiber and polyphenol intake; Baobab fruit includes both.
- Start Circadian fasting 3-4 times a week. Eat two meals per day at 7 am & 7 pm.
- Get regular sleep; this is the time when your body repairs and burns fat
- Move your body. Walk 30 minutes daily, practice yoga, and work with a trained professional. Consult your doctor if you need guidance to increase your regimen's intensity.
- Consider Fitbit, a great tool to monitor your sleep quality and exercise progress.
- Spend as much time as possible in green spaces, parks, and forests. Nature has a replenishing effect on the mind, body, and spirit.
- Meditation and breath work are calming, build resilience and support weight loss.
- Mindful eating, eat slowly for faster satiety.
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