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Gut Bacteria: The Unexpected Weight-Loss Aid

When we talk about weight loss, we usually focus on calorie intake, energy use, and the imbalance between the two. We rarely talk about how a healthy gut is key to promoting long-term, long-lasting, and healthy weight loss, if at all.

Up until recently, we thought that bacteria found in our intestine was pretty much minding its own business, affecting our health only when the gut bacteria population reduced due to things like antibiotics and a poor diet.

Now, recent research finds that a lack of healthy microscopic gut bacteria may be the reason for your weight-induced woes. At the same time, it shows that having a healthy population of certain types of gut bacteria could promote weight loss and staying slim.


Unfortunately, researchers don’t know how certain types of gut bacteria can influence our weight, quite yet.

Certain species of bacteria have been identified as being potential weight-loss superheroes, however.

Two key bacteria are Prevotella and Bacteroids, where a high ratio of Prevotella to Bacteroides is favorable.  In this study, those that had a higher ratio of Prevotella to Bacteroides were more responsive to high-fiber/whole grain diets than those who had lower ratios.

Other key bacteria seem to be Akkermansia muciniphilaFaecalibacterium prausnitziiMethanobrevibacter smithii and Christensenellaceae. 

Of course, these aren’t the only ones that help influence the ability to lose weight and keep it off. It seems that a healthy mix of gut bacteria is correlated with a healthy weight.

How Can You Improve Your Gut Bacteria Population?

Here are a few tips for improving your gut health:

  • Consume fermented foods: these contain bacteria that help populate the gut. These include foods like yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha.
  • Take probiotic supplements: make sure to do your research so that you are purchasing a kind that will make it to the gut, and not die in the process.
  • Eat a diet high in fiber: a diet rich in complex carbs and fiber is good for the bacteria that live in your gut.
  • Avoid taking too many antibiotics: one of the side-effects of antibiotics is that it can kill good bacteria, including that which is in your gut, in addition to the bacteria that is making you sick. While antibiotics may be necessary to regain health, talk to your doctor about not overdoing it.

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