The Ultimate Guide to the Gut-Weight Axis

It should be no secret that there is a strong correlation between the gut and your weight. After all, the pounds probably started packing on right around that area! High caloric intake and lack of physical activity are primary culprits in weight gain. However, excess weight gain over a prolonged period can mean there’s more than just your physical appearance at stake. Let’s examine the gut-weight axis.

What Does Gut Health Have to Do with Weight?

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching weight loss companies encouraging people to watch their calories. It’s not the calories that’s the problem. One-third of the population is considered overweight because of the source of our calories [*].

Think of the most populous areas in your hometown. There is a litany of coffee shops using artificial sweeteners, fast food restaurants deep frying foods, and “health food” stores carrying products full of with synthetic dyes and additives.

Food allergies are up 500% since 1990 [*]. Let that sink in. We scoff at the rise of gluten-free and vegan products. However, wheat and dairy are the top two allergens in the world. Maybe there’s something to be said about going back to basics.

Wheat and Gut Health

For one, mass-produced wheat is not the same whole grains upon which our great grandparents feasted. The dark side of wheat is that these highly-refined sandwich holders are stripped of their nutritional value. Instead, they’re manufactured in bulk, baked with additives our body can’t break down.

What’s left after we digest mass-produced grains are empty carbs not conducive to creating energy. Leftover gluten causes a nice fort for inflammation to burrow.

Inflammation is shielded by the undigested fibers. Being under Cognito allows inflammation to alter the pH level within its vicinity. That is why many who have a food sensitivity to gluten experience sharp pains in their belly. These unpleasurable effects are an inflammation settling into its digs.

Dairy and Gut Health

There is no denying the health benefits of milk. This popular beverage is rich in nutrients such as calcium. As the Got Milk? campaign taught us, milk helps strengthen our bones. While we’ve been educated on the benefits of dairy, the adage of “having too much of a good thing” is often neglected.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COW MILK AND BREAST MILK

When we are born, mothers may provide us nutrients through breast milk. Breastfeeding is a great way to acclimate your little one a whole new world. This practice is beneficial because you are nourishing them with the same nutrients they received while they were in your womb.

Our body plays host to trillions of microscopic cells [*]. These microbes continued to chemically react, feed on cells, and grow for nine months. During this time they formed our immune system, organs, and mind. Microbes get trapped within our skin and remain with us as we enter the world. They are now the governors of our microbiome.

Feasting on a mother’s milk is a great way to kick start the beginning of a human’s life. Much like cows, we rely on our mother for milk until we are able to fend for ourselves. All other animals in nature stop drinking milk once they reach maturity. Humans are the only mammals that do not. In fact, we’re also the only mammals to drink another mammal’s milk. [*]

Dairy is not very conducive to a healthy gut diet plan. Our body is not equipped to break down excess lactose. Yet, it’s in everything from potato chips to chocolate to cheese to lattes. You name it, and lactose has probably graced it.

Seeing as our body has trouble breaking down dairy, it sort of hangs out in our gut. Now we’re in the same situation as gluten. You now have a food source high in LDL cholesterol lingering in your microbiome. Too much LDL cholesterol will undoubtedly lead to weight gain and inevitably, obesity, and/or Type 2 diabetes [*].

What is the Gut-Weight Axis?

We mentioned earlier that our microbiome is taking care of matters going on trapped inside of our skin. The microbiome is such a complex pathway of neurons, microbes, neurotransmitters, organs, and cells. They all work together to help fight off inflammation, free radicals, and harmful bacteria.

There are two captains of the ship. They are the gut and the brain. Our gut-brain axis has a clear indicator of everything going on within the system. This flawless operation is much in thanks to the vagus nerve.

Attached to the end of our brainstem, the vagus nerve sits right above our gut. There are numerous axons connected to this nerve. The nerve is constantly interpreting impulses sent by neurons from various areas of the body. Our vagus nerve acts as a toll booth, playing messenger to everywhere from our skin to our brain to our immune system to digestive tract.

That’s a lot of ground to cover. However, the vagus nerve is equipped to handle the job. This crucial instrument has a hoard of neural tissues. These tissues are extremely sensitive and pick up the scents of local organisms.

When inflammations create an overly acidic environment in the gut, it triggers the tissues on the end of the vagus nerve. This reaction causes the nerve to trigger our brain. In turn, we feel uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea.

Gut Health and Hunger

Living in our microbiome, microbes are constantly having chemical reactions. That means our microbiome is ever-evolving. Part of its self-sufficiency relies on the creation of hormones and neurotransmitters. The gut needs to communicate with the rest of the system to have its demands met. This need is why you may feel anxious or hangry when your stomach starts to growl.

Your gut makes these decision based on who is ruling the ruse in the microbiome. In a healthy system, you will receive pings of hunger at adequate feeding intervals. To relay this message, your gut will secrete orexigenic hormones, such as ghrelin, into the system.

When your system is getting full, it will release anorectic hormones such as peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) into the bloodstream [*]. This action signals to the hypothalamus that you’re satiated.

In turn, the hypothalamus sends neurotransmitters to other areas of the body that include:

  • Amygdala
  • Brainstem
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Prefrontal Cortex

With everyone on the same page, your body goes into breaking down your food and distributing the nutrients. You will feel energized enough to get to the next meal, and the whole process will start over again. That is, if you have healthy bacteria in your microbiome.

Poor Gut Health and Weight Gain

We’ve reached the point where the source of your calories matters far more than your number of calories. When you host predominantly harmful bacteria in the microbiome, the creation of anorectic hormones takes a backseat.

Instead, your gut becomes insatiable, secreting excess ghrelin into the blood. When this happens, you are tricked into thinking you are hungry. As a result, you eat more food than necessary.

Adipose Tissue and Weight Gain

When we eat, the solid material enters our stomach acids. Here, the food particles are broken into manageable pieces. They enter the small intestines where the valuable nutrients are fermented for last minute sustenance. The leftover toxins are then flushed through the large intestine and out the other end.

Right above the small intestine lies our gut lining. When we overindulge, food chills there. It’s like LA traffic during rush-hour. Everyone waits impatiently for their turn to move an inch.

Adipose tissue acts as Velcro around our gut lining. It attaches itself to calories. That way our body can draw on the energy in time of need. This easy access is especially handy for those who need a burst during a workout.

The texture of the tissue is sticky. Therefore, it likes to soak up other sticky substances like refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. This relationship with sweets leaves little room for beneficial nutrients that should be stored in your fat such as amino acids.

When we are consuming nutrient-dense foods, the tissue is more of a beige hue. That means there are energy-boosting nutrients readily available. However, the longer adipose tissue sits there; it begins to lose its color. Once white, it’s harder for your body to draw energy. Plus, the texture becomes stickier. This change in appearance lends itself to a snowball effect where excess weight can start to accumulate.

How to Improve Gut Health and Weight

The first step to fighting off these build-ups is to break them down. Healthy bacteria don’t know how to feast on these fake foods. Harmful bacteria do. Therefore, your junk food is actually determinantal bacteria’s Thanksgiving feast [*].  

Revamp Your Diet

You need to one, cut back on the bad foods and implement healthier foods. Whole foods that come from the earth contain chemical compounds that compute with the bacteria we entered this world with. These foods are known as prebiotics.

To help alter the environment of your microbiome, try eating food rich in probiotics. When foods ferment in a brine, living cultures will feast on their sugars. In turn, it creates for gut healthy foods.

By switching up your diet to incorporate more fermented foods, you will notice a change in your gut. You should feel less bloated and go to the bathroom on a more regular schedule.

Probiotic Supplements and Energy Storage

Sure, we love a good kombucha, but probiotic-rich foods can be a bit much for some. Whether you have successfully implemented more fermented foods into your diet or not, using probiotic supplements can also help burrow more healthy microbes into your system.

These probiotics feast on prebiotic-rich foods you consume. In turn, probiotic bacteria grow stronger, changing the acidic levels of your microbiome and altering your gut health. As a result, your gut motility will improve [*]. Regulated gut motility will help create the bile necessary to excrete out the excess toxins causing your weight issues.

On top of that, beneficial bacteria has been scientifically proven to “increase levels of the protein ANGPTL4 [*].” This is a lipid that regulates how triglycerides are stored in adipose tissues. ANGPTL4 stores energy sources more efficiently so that they are burned at a faster, more natural rate. Otherwise, the fat is free to store itself anywhere in the gut, making these energy sources less readily available…and harder to burn.

Probiotics and Thermogenesis

Speaking of burning, gut bacteria also help burn your fat tissue more efficiently. Probiotic bacterias facilitate a process known as thermogenesis [*].

Thermogenesis is when your body draws on adipose tissues and converts the nutrients stored within their sticky fibers into energy. When adipose tissue is with other white tissue, it tends to stick together, making it harder to excrete energy from the source. Harmful bacteria help keep that adipose tissue right along the gut lining. We interpret this bloat as excess weight.

Studies have shown that probiotics excite electrons around the gut lining. This causes the white tissue to have a chemical reaction which turns it into a brown hue. Affectionately known as fat-browning, when white tissues turn beige, it sheds more weight. That’s because this dormant tissue is now being used as a more efficient source of energy [*].

METABOLISM AND WEIGHT GAIN

Part of the issue with weight gain is the metabolism isn’t working like the well-oiled machine it used to be. To give the metabolism a bit of a hand, probiotics help facilitate the creation of the GLP-1 we spoke about earlier.

This hormone suppresses feelings of hunger, so we don’t feel the need to eat unnecessarily. In a two-for-one deal, the GLP-1 has also exhibited an ability to improve glucose intolerance [*]. That makes this hormone crucial for those suffering from diabetes or are at risk of the condition.

WEIGHT GAIN AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

On top of superficial consequences, there are also health risks associated with weight gain. For instance, too much weight can lead to the onset of diabetes. Cases of obesity are typically caused by the overconsumption of refined sugars. Refined sugars are known to spike your blood glucose levels. When these practices become habitual, it may lead to cases of Type 2 Diabetes or bouts of diabetic shock.

Furthermore, these artificial sugars stay in your system for the long haul. With time, they start to harden and create sticky plaques that disrupt the complex highways that are your arteries. As a result, blood can’t get to sections of the body including the brain, genitals, and heart. When oxygenated blood cells can’t reach these areas, it leaves the body open to a plethora of conditions such as mental health disorders, reproductive abnormalities, and cardiovascular disease.

Stomach Bacteria Associated with Weight Conditions

As we keep saying, it’s bacteria that you got into this mess. It will also be bacteria that will help you get out of it.

When it comes to excess weight, there aren’t a lot of bacteria that is necessarily causing the issue. Instead, you have a lack of biodiversity going on within the system. Unless there is an underlying issue, such as an overabundance of Helicobacter pylori [*]. In these cases, you may experience painful symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain.

Due to these effects, you may not feel the desire to be as active. Fear of triggering more pain may cause you to gain weight as an organic side effect. In other cases, these bacteria overloads may cause a breeding ground for inflammation. As inflammatory tissues pile up, this can lead to a bulge in your gut area.

Speaking of inflammations, bacterial strains such as Coprococcus comes can cause autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s and Irritable Bowel Syndrome [*]. As toxins leak into your system from these conditions, they set off receptors attached to the bottom of the vagus nerve.

When opportunists such as Coprococcus come to take up too much residence, your body goes into panic mode. This alerts the adrenal glands. Autonomously, these glands start pumping out the hormone, cortisol [*].

Cortisol and Weight Gain

Cortisol is our stress hormone. When our body is in a constant state of peril, it creates a constant state of stress. As cortisol infiltrates the system, it will throw the rest of your hormones off balance. This includes testosterone and estrogen. Depending on how your body reacts to the cortisol production, it may end up pumping out too of the latter hormone.

When excess estrogen enters the microbiome, it alters the way we store fat [*]. Estrogen triggers the maternal instinct of our system. All of our fat and blood cells rush to the belly in the presence of excess estrogen because it’s anticipating the arrival of a fetus. When the fetus doesn’t come to fruition, you may be left with the excess tissue buildup. On the outside, this will come across as weight gain.

Ways to Improve Weight Concerns

Excess weight can sneak up on you. Once caught off-guard, you might have a bigger hill to climb than you realized. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? You might not know where to begin on your weight loss journey. Let us help you figure out some ways to improve your weight.

Exercise

Exercise is essential for losing weight. You need to burn off the food you consumed. Otherwise, the particles will clog your gut lining. When this happens, it not only opens the door for weight loss, but for other life-threatening conditions.

EXERCISE AND PROBIOTIC GROWTH

Not only will exercise help you burn off that extra slice of cake, but it helps improve your microbiome. By exercising, you are mixing up sedimentary microbes. When you move about, it forces chemical reactions between microbes that weren’t hanging out with one another [*].

Exercising works two-fold in probiotic growth. For one, your probiotic bacteria are mingling with one another. These reactions will alter the chemical makeup of other microbes. In turn, you naturally diversify your bacteria.

Secondly, this causes probiotic bacteria to get mixed up with inflammation. It’s like the police on a manhunt. Probiotics are free to swish around areas they couldn’t access when you were sitting at a desk. When probiotics find inflammations, they can enlist red blood cells, T-cells, and other members of our immune system to clean up the muck.

The biggest no-brainer in addressing weight concerns is diet and exercise. You need to cut out the fried foods, poor protein choices, and artificial ingredients. While they may taste good, these foods don’t feel good.

Get Your Micronutrients

We’ve touched on it before, and we’re going to harp on it again. Dietary choices are the leading cause of weight gain. Therefore, making informed decisions will be the most beneficial in getting you out of this situation.

For adequate nutrition, be sure to eat foods that range the rainbow of colors. Each hue represents unique chemical compounds that other foods are lacking. Therefore, you are getting a balanced diet of micronutrients each time you opt to consume a food with a different colored exterior.

Micronutrients are essential for weight loss because they act as catalysts for many vital functions. Most importantly, micronutrients contain the enzymes we need to facilitate the digestion process [*]. They also contain the energy we need to push through workouts.

Supplementing with Probiotics

Lastly, the key to getting your weight under control is to create an environment conducive to that goal. The best way to do this is to supplement with the correct beneficial bacteria. Studies have shown that some of the biggest reasons we gain weight are due to the lack of beneficial bacteria in our body.

For instance, refined sugar cravings that happen more than three times a week can be attributed to a low level of Bifidobacterium lactis in the gut. This strain of bacteria helps reduce the levels of lipids in our system that brings on the sugary cravings we long for. Instead, Bifidobacterium lactis creates an environment where sugar cravings are satiated by the glucose and fructose provided by prebiotic-rich foods such as fruits and resistant starches [*].

Other studies have confirmed that a small amount of Methanobrevibacter smithii in the microbiome may lead to weight gain. This probiotic strain flourishes while feasting on hydrogen in the gut.

Hydrogen is a byproduct of waste created by other microorganisms inside your system. When hydrogen levels are high, it makes it harder for your gut to ferment the bacteria in your stomach acid. It’s like closing a mason jar lid with a strong current pushing it up. When Methanobrevibacter smithii consumes hydrogen, it speeds up the metabolic process. As a result, you absorb more nutrients, rather than storing them as fat cells [*].

DIABETES AND PROBIOTICS

Many who suffer from weight issues are at an increased risk for diabetes [*]. Cases of diabetes tend to have decreased levels of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri Tr1 (ADR1) in the gut. Research shows Lactobacillus rhamnosus enhances gluten sensitivity. As a result, this strain may be helpful in controlling peaked blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, the same study concluded that Lactobacillus reuteri Tr1 (ADR1) does the same for women who have gestational diabetes during pregnancy. However, this strain also helps lower inflammations that may also add to unwanted weight gain.

CHOLESTEROL AND PROBIOTICS

Unwanted weight gain is also triggered by high levels of LDL cholesterol. This is the fatty lipids found in animal fats, dairy, and sweets. When levels of LDL cholesterol are high, it blocks off paths for red oxygenated blood cells to get through. Therefore, these cells can’t help oxidize adipose tissue and turn it into energy. Studies with Lactobacillus reuteri confirm that this probiotic strain can lower LDL cholesterol levels while simultaneously reducing the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease [*].

Seeing as diversity is the key to getting your microbes in check, you should figure out which ones are currently lacking in your system. The best way to do this is to get your microbiome tested. In doing so, you can pinpoint just what your body needs. With these results, Thryve Probiotics can formulate a personalized supplement guaranteed to help you blast that excess weight to smithereens.

Weight Loss Case Study

Pamela came in with the goal to lose 15 lbs off her midsection. Outside of belly fat, Pamela presented no other health issues and was a healthy 35 year old.


We tested her gut bacteria and noticed she was lacking several good probiotic bacteria known for weight loss. Specifically, she had low counts of Bifidobacterium probiotics in her gut and reduced microbial diversity.

Pamela started on a personalized diet plan and customized probiotic blend and was able to reduce her weight by almost 11 lbs (8.5%) in 3 months without any changes to her activity level.

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