Maximize the Microbiome Benefits of Your New Year‘s Resolutions

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A new year presents the opportunity for a fresh start, for many, this means making positive changes such as exercising more, eating right, and losing weight.

 

Your microbiome is a fundamental component of your health, and some great research has shown us how to maximize the benefits of these common New Year’s resolutions through the microbiome.

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Eating Right

Healthy eating is the foundation of a healthy microbiome. In the simplest terms, refined carbohydrates (e.g., processed sugar) are bad, and resistant carbohydrates (e.g., prebiotic fiber) are good. Therefore, the response of the microbiome to food is the predominant area of scientific interest.

 

Here are some of the most significant “eating right” studies of 2017.

 

The Gut Microbiome Influences the Body’s Response to a High-Fat Diet

This groundbreaking study from Imperial College London sheds light on why high-fat diets affect people differently. The researchers found that the microbiome not only responds to the food that we eat but also influences how the body responds to diet. Read more.

 

Gut Fungi Linked to Obesity

While we’re on the subject of high-fat diets, this study published in November found that high-fat diets change the fungal communities of the gut microbiome in the same way that they change bacterial communities. This is particularly interesting because little is known about the role of fungi in the gut microbiome. Notably, the researchers found that Candida albicans  (the cause of many fungal infections) increases in response to a high-fat diet. Read more.

 

Clogged Arteries? Your Diet Might Not be the Problem

Heart disease has long been associated with high-fat diets; however, scientists at the University of Connecticut found that the plaques that clog our arteries and raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke may come from bacteria living in our mouths and guts, not from food. This surprising finding may explain why gum disease is often linked to atherosclerosis. Read more.

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Weight Loss

Microbiome dysbiosis has been linked to obesity (and a plethora of other diseases); the microbiomes of healthy and overweight individuals are significantly different. In fact, when an overweight person loses weight their unhealthy microbiome can persist long after a healthy bodyweight has been achieved and may lead to rebound weight gain. The gut microbiome, therefore, is an appealing target for weight loss interventions and an area of active scientific research.

 

Here are some of the most significant “weight loss” studies of 2017.

 

Prebiotic Supplement Improves the Gut Microbiome and Reduces Body Fat in Overweight Children

Childhood obesity is a global epidemic, and overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults. In a breakout study from the University of Calgary, researchers found that giving overweight children a prebiotic supplement (inulin) not only improved their gut microbiomes but also helped the children maintain a healthier weight. Read more.

 

Will a High-Fiber Diet Help You Lose Weight? The Answer’s in Your Poop!

Gut microbiome analysis is now widely available to the public from companies such as uBiome, but it may not always be clear what dietary changes to make based on the results. However, a scientific report published in September shows that microbiome analysis from a fecal sample can show whether you can lose weight by following dietary recommendations including high fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole grains. Read more.

 

Intermittent Fasting Probably Works by Changing Your Microbiome

Intermittent fasting is the latest biohack to lose weight and improve health, but no one really knows why it works. However, an innovative study found that intermittent fasting promotes white adipose browning and weight loss by altering the gut microbiome. Read more.

 

Tea Aids Weight Loss by Altering the Gut Microbiome

Tea has been drunk for thousands of years and is claimed to have many health benefits. In recent years, scientific evidence has begun to support some of these health claims - particularly for modest weight loss – however it is not really known how tea exerts these effects on the body. Now UCLA scientists show that black tea functions as a prebiotic and may promote weight loss and other health benefits by altering the gut microbiome. Read more.

 

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Exercise

Exercise Can Boost Your Microbiome

Finally, we come to exercise. This is a pretty new and exciting area of microbiome research. In 2017, scientists showed for the first time that exercise alone can alter the gut microbiome. This is the first such demonstration in humans and shows that the microbiomes of lean and obese people respond to exercise differently. Read more.   

 

Every year scientific understanding of the microbiome increases. We’re looking forward to more great discoveries in 2018!