Feeling frustrated by those last stubborn few pounds you can’t seem to shed? Can’t quite pinpoint the best way to lose weight? Surprisingly, weight loss has less to do with how many hours you log on the treadmill, and more to do with the condition of your gut.
The gut—particularly the stomach and intestines—is responsible for many functions, including digestion, nutrient absorption, and elimination. Healthy gut flora, populated by good and diverse bacteria, forms a strong protective barrier between your gut and your bloodstream.
Poor eating habits, elevated stress, and a sedentary lifestyle are just a few factors that can throw off your gut’s bacterial balance. When bad bacteria take over, invaders such as toxins, stomach acid, and undigested food particles can break through that protective barrier and end up in the bloodstream. The result? Widespread inflammation.
Anytime inflammation occurs, the immune system is triggered. A healthy immune response is temporary. But if you don’t heal your gut, the immune system has to work overtime to try to reduce the chronic inflammation in your body. Not a good use of the body’s energy, right? And over time, there are consequences.
Research has shown that chronic inflammation leads to skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, and cancer, as well as weight gain and metabolic issues. It also may cause “diabesity”—a disease characterized by the link between obesity and diabetes. Diabesity is also linked to chronic inflammation and continued activation of the immune system.
Now that we know that inflammation can lead to weight gain (and other illnesses) and that many inflammatory conditions begin in the gut, we can respond with a plan. Thus, the best way to lose weight and decrease inflammation is to heal the gut.
Here are Well Within Beauty’s six steps to balancing your gut flora for healthy weight loss and total wellness:
Plants (especially green vegetables) contain enzymes and phytonutrients that help eliminate waste, strengthen the immune system, and pull damaging heavy metals out of the body. Greens are a vital part of a healthy diet, so find creative ways to enjoy them with every meal. If you’re greens-resistant, add some to a fruit smoothie.
Fruits, vegetables, beans, oats, and seeds are fiber-rich foods that clean up your digestive tract and assist in nutrient absorption. Prepare a large pot of vegetable soup with beans or lentils, vegetables, and whole grains such as bulgur wheat, and enjoy throughout the week. It’s a delicious, easy way to increase your fiber intake!
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that populate the gut and help it thrive. Kimchi and sauerkraut are two of the most popular ferments, but there are many options to choose from. Look for fermented vegetable recipes online and make a batch. Otherwise, find a quality brand at the grocery store that contains live probiotics and enzymes. You can toss these ferments into salads, rice dishes, collard wraps, and gluten-free sandwiches.
Exercise is a great way to boost your immune system and your mood. It also activates your metabolism, which can promote healthy weight loss. Most importantly, exercise decreases stress levels. And since we know that managing stress is a key component of a healthy gut, lace up your sneakers and take a walk, go for a jog, practice yoga, or dance around your living room—whatever strikes you!
Sugar and other processed foods aren’t just empty calories—they are also highly inflammatory. Refined carbohydrates (think white sugar, white flour products, and white rice) also elevate blood-sugar levels and lead to diabetes and weight gain. It can be hard to cut out sweets completely, so allow yourself a little natural sweetness such as fresh fruit, frozen banana ice cream, and other options such as Well Within Beauty’s Cucumber, Honeydew, and Aloe Beauty Pops.
If you’re struggling to heal your gut, find a functional medicine doctor who can help you on your wellness journey. A functional medicine doctor can test for food sensitivities as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which may be impeding your progress.
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee