I wanted to share with you some interesting research that I have been looking at around gut health and weight loss. The concept of weight being related to gut health first came about in the early 2000's when researchers inoculated germ-free mice with the microbiome of conventional mice. What they discovered was that once the mice had the new gut flora they instantly put on weight, and became insulin resistant, even when they were fed less food and were made to exercise more. This discovery led researchers to the theory that our gut flora, in fact help us to capture more energy from our food. But before you go reaching for the antibiotics to decimate your gut flora, remember, our microbiome is our friend!
So, in an attempt to find out more, researchers took healthy lean mice and inoculated obese mice (and yes when I say inoculated, I mean they took the blended up poo from one mouse and inserted it into the bottom of another) …ok, are you still with me? The results were astonishing, the obese mice become skinnier, their blood pressure came down, their insulin sensitivity increased, and their blood sugars stabilised.
So, what was the difference between the two groups of mice? When researchers looked into this they found that obese mice had a reduction of a genre of bacteria called Bacteroidetes, and an increase in Firmicutes. In follow up investigations it was discovered that the Firmicutes in obese mice were interacting with the body in a way that caused a rise in blood pressure, a rise in cholesterol and blood lipids, interfered with the hormones that help us feel full, and created inflammation in the body by playing havoc with the immune system.
What’s more they found that this can be changed by diet. A change from a whole food diet rich in plant starches and fibres to a typical junk food diet changed the microbiome of the mice to the “obese microbiome” within one day. The good news is, that this change can occur the other way as well. In fact, just by adding in some plant based starches and fibres you can protect against the effects of junk food.
Not only that, in human studies it’s been demonstrated that adding in specific species of probiotics produces weight loss, lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, decreased inflammation, improved fasting blood glucose and increased insulin sensitivity.
The specific strains that have been studied and found to have benefit are:
Bifidobacterium lactis HNO19
Lactobacillus acidophilus LA5
Bifidobacterium animalis BB12
L. delbrueckii subsp.
While you can get hold of these in a capsule, my advice is to incorporate probiotics into a healthy diet. This can be done by using these specific strains in your fermented foods, or mixing an open capsule into your daily yogurt. You can learn how to make your own "functional foods" by signing up to one of my fermentation parties.
Or come in to see me for a tailored weight loss plan.
Last month I wrote about insulin resistance and spoke about why it is so important to get insulin resistance under control to avoid a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. This month I wanted to tell you about the insulin resistance score. The insulin resistance score (IRS) is a measurement of your insulin resistance.
Although, insulin resistance happens most often in overweight and obese people, not all overweight or obese people are insulin resistant. Similarly, not all people who are insulin resistant are overweight. Actually, fit people who are insulin resistant are more likely at risk of having undiagnosed cardiovascular issues. It's these highly active people, who aren't flagged by medical intervention because they are so healthy looking, that suddenly and shockingly succumb to a major stroke or heart attack.
Assessing your IRS is quite easy. It's not a special test that you need. It can be part of your regular GP check ups.
Remember that up to 17% of the Australian population is considered to have some form of glucose regulation issues, and insulin resistance can be present up to 15 years prior to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes
It's really worth getting this assessed!
Insulin resistance and its relative syndrome, Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome was first talked about by Professor Gerald Reaven in a lecture he gave at the American Diabetes Association in 1988. Reaven described a cluster of conditions that occured before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. What Reaven called "the deadly quartet" were four seemingly unrelated health conditions; high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood triglycerides (fat in the blood) and low HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Reaven detailed how this cluster of conditions made people more at risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Ok, so what did the medical community do with that information? Well, of course logically, eating low fat would be a great idea -less fat in the diet, the less fat in the blood right? A low fat diet approach was recommended.
And let's get rid of the cholesterol, because cholesterol is bad right?- Hello cholesterol lowering statin drugs!
And we'll put people on blood pressure medication, so that will fix THAT problem.
But the big thing we are missing here, and the main point that Reaven made in his lecture was-
It is the insulin resistance that causes the other three problems!!
Remember that insulin resistance causes high blood pressure by triggering the body to reserve sodium and waste potassium.
Remember that insulin resistance and the over consumption of dietary carbohydrates (not fats) causes the liver to turn excess carbs into triglycerides which are circulated in the blood stream. Remember that when the liver is resitant to insulin it doesn't get the message to stop making triglycerides.
Insulin resistance also affects the liver's glucose production, insulin SHOULD tell the liver to stop making glucose, but insulin resistance stops that message from getting through. So the body requires ever increasing amounts of insulin- some to deal with the glucose that is being made by the liver and some for the incoming dietary carbohydrates.
Remember that insulin resistance stops the body from being able to use stored fat as energy and causes the rise in LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood.
It is the LDL cholesterol that gets trapped in arteries and causes heart attack and stroke.
There is no effective pharmaceutical treatment for insulin resistance. In other words, your doctor has no pill to treat it. However, that does not mean that insulin resistance can't be fixed!
Insulin Resistance is best treated with diet and exercise
If you want the professional guidance of someone who understands this issue, please don't hesitate to make a booking. Doing something now could save literally save your life.
Melanie Turner, Naturopath, mother, gardener, lover of wholesome food