Fad diets, exercise programs, weight loss supplements… why isn’t anything working to keep the weight off? The answer we’ve been seeking has been right in front of us the whole time. The gut microbiome! You may have heard the term “microbiome” being used in the wellness world, but what does it really mean? A microbiome is essentially an ecosystem of tiny bacteria living and working in, well, most places. Humans, animals, and plants all have microbiomes living in and on their bodies. The balance of the human gut microbiome is closely tied to digestive health, immune system function and skin regeneration, to name a few. It has also recently been linked to how our bodies use energy, which directly impacts our weight.
The human gut is home to millions of diverse bacteria, but the two major types are called firmicutes and bacteroidetes. Firmicutes are excellent at converting food to energy and promoting the storage of that energy in the body, as fat. Firmicutes also help serotonin production, the feel-good hormone, which can possibly contribute to food cravings. Bacteroidetes, on the other hand, specialize in breaking down bulky plant starches and fiber into energy that can be used immediately. Both bacteria are important in a healthy gut microbiome, but if the ratio of firmicutes to bacteroidetes becomes unbalanced it can lead to too much fat storage, AKA weight gain.
So, how do we maintain a balanced gut microbiome? Your mom wasn’t kidding when she told you to eat your fruits and veggies as a kid! Eating right can make or break your gut flora. Certain foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, and some dairy products can throw off your bacterial balance. Consuming a diverse range of fresh plant foods will provide prebiotic fiber that promotes energy-burning bacteroidetes and reduces fat-storing firmicutes. Baobab powder is also 28% prebiotic fiber, making it an easy way to add more fiber to your diet and balance those gut bacteria.