When we think about what it takes to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight, focusing on gut health isn't likely at the top of th3 list, but according to research, it should be. Your microbiome and the specific strains of bacteria you do or do not have in your gut impact body weight.
Only within the last 20 years (2004) has science recognized the role of the gut bacteria with appetite and satiety.
Your microbiome includes trillions of different kinds of bacteria and non-bacterial organisms that live inside the gut and perform essential bodily functions. It seems these bacteria may be undermining our self-control when it comes to eating and appetite, and they can send us inaccurate signals.
Certain strains of bacteria are associated with an increase in the undesirable health conditions associated with obesity and metabolic disease, such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and elevated blood lipids.
Key Areas of Research Regarding the Microbiome, Body Weight, and Appetite
Microbiome Composition and Weight RegulationRecent studies have continued to explore the relationship between the gut microbiome's composition and an individual's body weight.
Our gut microbes directly participate in the regulatory circuit involved in fullness and satisfaction by releasing bioactive molecules that influence appetite and energy balance. This circuit that involves specific regions of the brain responsible for regulating eating behavior, such as the hypothalamus or amygdala, is actually dependent on the gut microbes assessment of their own needs! They run the show of our human body!
Gut bacteria communicate with the brain through a complex network known as the gut-brain axis. This bidirectional communication system allows the gut and the brain to exchange information through various pathways, including neural, hormonal, and immune mechanisms. Researchers are studying how gut bacteria communicate with the brain and influences appetite and food preferences.
Microbial Metabolites and Appetite Control
Gut bacteria produce metabolites as they break down dietary components. Some of these microbial metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) can cross the blood-brain barrier and influence brain function. SCFAs have been linked to improved mood, reduced inflammation in the brain, and have been found to play a role in appetite regulation and energy metabolism.
The development of microbiome-based interventions for weight management is a rapidly evolving field. Scientists are exploring strategies like probiotics, prebiotics, and dietary modifications to promote a healthy gut microbiome and potentially influence body weight. This is a huge reason Glycophagen GI Wellness was created - to support the gut with probiotics, prebiotics, glutamine, and other nutrients required to create a healthy environment for our gut bacteria.
Personalized nutrition and microbiome-based therapies are the way forward. Everyone has their own unique microbiome profile, and current research is looking at how an individual's unique microbiome profile may influence their response to dietary interventions and weight loss strategies.
Microbiome and Obesity-Related Health Conditions
Beyond body weight, research is examining the microbiome's role in obesity-related health conditions such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and fatty liver disease. Understanding these connections may lead to more comprehensive treatment approaches.
Bacterial Strains that Negatively Impact Hunger and Satiety
There’s a massive amount of microbial life in the stomach and intestines, and there are specific bacterial strains associated with negative impacts on hunger and satiety. While research in this field is ongoing, several bacterial strains have been identified as potential contributors to appetite dysregulation and increased food intake.
Here are a few examples:
Increased levels of Firmicutes, a phylum of bacteria, have been associated with obesity in some studies. It has been suggested that Firmicutes may be involved in extracting more energy from the diet, potentially leading to increased hunger and weight gain.
Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Certain strains of E. coli have been linked to increased appetite and food intake. These strains can produce certain proteins that affect gut hormone secretion and appetite regulation.
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)
C. difficile is a bacterium that can cause gastrointestinal infections. While its impact on appetite regulation is not well understood, some studies suggest a potential association between C. difficile infection and altered appetite.
Bacterial Strains that Positively Impact Hunger and Satiety
There are bacterial strains associated with positive impacts on hunger and satiety. These strains are believed to contribute to a healthy appetite regulation and can potentially support weight management.
Here are a few examples:
Bifidobacterium is a genus of beneficial bacteria that is commonly found in the gut. Some studies suggest higher levels of Bifidobacterium may be associated with decreased appetite and improved satiety. These bacteria are thought to influence gut hormone secretion, promote gut barrier integrity, and help regulate energy balance.
Akkermansia muciniphila is a mucin-degrading bacterium that resides in the gut. It has been associated with various health benefits, including appetite regulation. Research suggests higher levels of Akkermansia muciniphila may be linked to reduced appetite, improved metabolic health, and weight management.
Lactobacillus is a genus of beneficial bacteria commonly found in fermented foods and probiotic supplements. Some studies have indicated that certain strains of Lactobacillus may influence appetite regulation. These bacteria are believed to affect gut hormone levels, modulate inflammation, and promote gut health.
Roseburia is a genus of bacteria that produces butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid with potential appetite-regulating effects. Higher levels of Roseburia have been associated with improved gut barrier function and metabolic health, suggesting a potential positive impact on hunger and satiety.
Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a butyrate-producing bacterium that has been associated with various health benefits. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and may play a role in gut health and appetite regulation.
The microbiome and the weight/appetite/satiety connection is fascinating, so how do you promote a robust gut microbiome? Part 3 focuses on foods and snacks for building a powerful microbiome that works for you, not against you.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods