Losing Weight: Why Your Gut Matters
How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and failed to make it past the first week?
Any health-related New Year’s resolution that makes a lasting impact on your wellness requires a vision of what you want to achieve along with a plan and a set of measurable goals to help you get there.
But, did you know the difference between losing weight and keeping it off for the long haul could depend on the health of your gut too?
Your Gut As A Biomarker For Healthy Eating
Stanford University researchers explored a simple question — what allows some people to lose weight while others don’t? — in a review of data to find some answers in a recent study appearing in Cell Reports Medicine.
Scientists reviewed health data on more than 600 patients who ate a low-carb or low-fat diets largely made up of high quality, minimally processed foods for a year.
For the first six months of data, patients who strictly followed either a low-carb or low-fat diet lost weight but only for the short-term. Yet some patients failed to lose more weight after a year while others did, despite maintaining their exercise goals and cutting calories.
How could this happen?
“We found specific microbiome ecologies and amounts of proteins and enzymes at the beginning of the study period — before people started following their diets — that indicated whether they would be successful at losing weight and keeping it off,” says Dalia Perelman, co-author of the Stanford study and a research dietician.
Another predictor of weight-loss success: The ratio of inhaled oxygen to exhaled carbon dioxide (the respiratory quotient) that determines whether fats or carbs are a patient’s main source for fuel.
A higher ratio means your body burns more carbs, but a lower one indicates your body burns more fat.
Researchers believe knowing this data before starting any weight-loss plan could be the first step toward more personalized diets, with an eye toward what kinds of quality, healthy foods you can include rather than what foods you should exclude, Perelman says.
But, at the same time, the health of your gut matters, especially at the beginning of your weight-loss journey. And, if you’re older, you’ll need some extra help due to the naturally declining amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
If you want to give your weight-loss plan a gut-healthy start, consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue. This newest member of the EndoMune family is uniquely formulated with 1 billion CFUs of Bifidobacterium lactis and 600 mg of XOS, a proven prebiotic that stimulates the release of hormones in your gut and reduces your appetite naturally by promoting more fullness.
Research suggests the potent ingredients that make up EndoMune Metabolic Rescue may help you improve your fasting blood sugar and insulin levels and lose weight within 30 days.
The Probiotic Benefit For Gastric Bypass Patients
With greater numbers of people struggling with a myriad of health issues surrounding obesity, the popularity of gastric bypass procedures that help patients shed extra pounds has grown exponentially over the past three decades.
Although gastric bypass isn’t for everyone who suffers from severe weight-related health problems, this procedure can be an important catalyst toward better health outcomes.
Losing the weight with the help of gastric bypass is merely the first step. It takes a great deal of work and mental determination to follow a healthier diet plan rather than a nutrient-poor Western diet which is often the reason many patients consider gastric bypass in the first place.
However, taking a probiotic formulated with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains may be a very safe, gut-friendly solution that eases some of the issues gastric bypass patients face, according to a recent study.
The Gut-Brain Connection At Work
A team of Brazilian researchers conducted a clinical trial with 101 gastric bypass patients to assess the gut-brain benefits of prescribing a probiotic containing Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus, targeting symptoms of binge eating and food addictions.
(These strains of beneficial bacteria are among the 10 formulated in every bottle of EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)
Patients received a multi-strain probiotic or placebo for three months, starting seven days after their gastric bypass surgeries, then were evaluated at the 90-day and 1-year marks to assess outcomes.
Both patient groups experienced decreases in symptoms at three months. But, the real benefit of taking a multi-strain probiotic showed up a year later as patients still experienced significant gut-brain relief from binging and food addictions.
What If Gastric Bypass Isn’t An Option?
For many people, gastric bypass may not be the best option to lose weight. You may not be keen on weight-loss surgery, especially if the amount of weight you need to lose is a much more manageable number that can be aided by eating nutrient-dense foods and increasing your exercise.
If you want to lose weight safely and more slowly but need some extra help, you may want to consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue, a probiotic that can help you maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and jumpstart your weight loss plan.
EndoMune Metabolic Rescue contains a proven blend of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS (Xylooligosaccharides) that stimulates the release of hormones in your gut that reduce your appetite naturally by promoting a greater sense of fullness.
If gastric bypass isn’t in your future, it’s good to know you have gut-healthy options in the EndoMune family of probiotics that can make your weight-loss journey a good experience.
Does Your Child Need A “Probiotic” Sandbox?
There is clean, and there is too clean, especially when it comes to protecting the gut health of your kids.
Soaps and cleaning products formulated with antibacterial and antimicrobial chemicals often do more harm than good, triggering gut health imbalances that can leave your child vulnerable to very basic health challenges like obesity.
Thanks to the hygiene hypothesis, we recognize exposing young children to a wider array of microbes strengthens their developing immune systems.
When kids are concerned, it can be tough to maintain a balance between healthy and unhealthy exposure to microbes which led European researchers to test the benefits of a probiotic sandbox that recently appeared in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.
A Gut-Healthy Sandbox?
Scientists conducted a small, double-blind study with the help of six daycare centers in southern Finland. Two sets of sandboxes were enhanced with a microbial-rich powder containing soil, leaf litter and moss, while the remaining sandboxes featured a typical mix of sand and peat material.
For the study, 26 children (ages 3-5) participated in supervised play for 20 minutes twice a day for two weeks while researchers tracked microbial changes in skin, stool and blood samples before and after the 14 days.
Not surprisingly, children exposed to the microbial-rich sandboxes had more diverse skin and gut microbiomes and changes in their blood that revealed greater concentrations of immune cells.
Stick With A Probiotic
These results sound encouraging, but are they really practical for children not supervised by scientists?
Sandboxes require lots of oversight by parents to ensure they stay clean, especially if their children are still wearing diapers. And, there’s the potential for contamination from bugs and other creepy crawlies too.
A sandbox mixed with beneficial microbes sounds like a good idea, but it will never replace the reliable gut health benefits your child receives from taking a probiotic formulated for his/her developing microbiome like EndoMune Junior Advanced.
A Gut-Healthy Way to Lose Weight
As the holiday season approaches, many people are already thinking about the start of a New Year and reminded about those “Let’s lose weight!” resolutions.
It’s not surprising given the results of a recent American Psychological Association report we shared about average weight gains during our COVID-19 hibernation that nearly doubled the quarantine 15 weight-gain assumptions.
Most people focus on the basics, but did you know your gut affects your ability to lose weight too?
The Gut-Weight Link
In a recent study appearing in mSystems that examined a subset of patients who were part of a behavioral modification study, scientists at the Institute for Systems Biology concluded that the mix of bacteria in the gut not only influences your ability to lose weight, but it can prevent it too.
Out of the 105 patients who participated over 6 to 12 months, 57 patients maintained the same BMI and lost no weight while the remaining 48 patients lost more than 1 percent of their body weight each month.
What’s more, these patients were given a specific diet or exercise plan to follow which led researchers to dig deeper with blood work and stool samples.
Two key findings stood out:
- People whose weight and BMIs remained the same during the study had a gut bacteria mix that broke down starchy foods into sugars more effectively.
- Among patients who lost weight consistently, researchers identified genes that helped gut bacteria grow, replicate and form cell walls faster, allowing starches to be consumed before they could add extra pounds.
These differences in genes shed light on the impact of nutrient-poor Western diets that create differences in the composition of gut bacteria among healthy people and those are obese, says lead study author Dr. Christian Diener.
So, what do you do to lose those extra pounds?
The Gut-Healthy Way To Lose Weight
You can take healthy steps — eat more nutrient-dense whole foods, incorporate more movement during your day and take a few minutes at day’s end to destress — but your body may still need help to build the momentum it needs to lose those extra pounds.
That’s where research has shown how targeted strains of beneficial bacteria in a probiotic supplement can maintain the healthy balance in our gut and help our bodies regulate our metabolism. (This is especially important if you’re older due to a natural decline of beneficial bacteria in your gut.)
EndoMune Metabolic Rescue contains a proven blend of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS (Xylooligosaccharides) that stimulates the release of hormones in your gut that reduce your appetite by promoting a greater sense of fullness.
If you’ve been struggling to get started on your weight loss journey, EndoMune Metabolic Rescue is formulated to help you start your weight loss journey in a safe, all-natural, gut-healthy way.
There’s no doubt following social distancing guidelines when you and your family go outside is the smart and safe way to avoid the many health risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
But those guidelines don’t take into account the stress you’re feeling, whether you’re hunkered down for long periods of time with work-at-home responsibilities plus family responsibilities or not working at all.
We’ve talked a lot about the gut-brain axis, the connection between your brain, emotions and intestines.
If you’ve been doing a lot of stress eating lately, it could be a sign that your gut-brain axis needs some extra help to stay in balance and keep the weight off too.
Don’t fear, there’s many ways to rebalance your anxious gut-brain axis safely and gently, even in these stressful coronavirus times.
First, let’s take a look at how we got there.
Overeating processed foods
Consuming a typical Western diet full of processed, high-fat foods is a huge problem all by itself, which is often worsened by stress.
The more you eat, the more your gut produces higher levels of gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), a hormone that manages the balance of energy in your body.
Last year, Baylor College of Medicine researchers discovered this extra GIP that the gut produces travels through the bloodstream to the brain where it slows down the impact of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that promotes a feeling of fullness or satiety, in a series of tests on mice.
(Messing up your sleep cycle affects how your body produces leptin too.)
Baylor scientists recognized the gut-brain connection when they took steps to block the production of GIP which reduces the appetites and weights of mice fed high-fat diets.
But that’s not all…
Too much real sugar
You may also recall our warning about foods sweetened with real, refined sugar that can be just as harmful to your health as those containing artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t take much of the real thing to trigger sugar cravings either.
The average American consumes at least 66 pounds of real sugar, if not more, every year, fueling the epidemic of obesity and many more health problems.
Real sugar affects the brain in a unique way by signals traveling from the gut all the way to the brain via the vagus nerve, according to a very recent study on mice appearing in Nature.
It was really hard for Columbia University researchers to ignore the connection. When given the option of being fed water with artificial sweeteners or real sugar, mice gravitated to the real thing after only two days.
What’s more, scientists found that the gut-brain connection kicks into gear in the presence of glucose (often added to processed foods as dextrose and extracted from corn starch).
Rebalancing your anxious gut-brain axis
Depending on how the coronavirus outbreak is slowing down in your area (or not), getting back to a normal routine may take a while.
With this in mind, ask yourself these four questions each day to help make sure you’re maintaining your balance, mentally and physically.
- Are you taking breaks to exercise at home? At the very least, plan short walks outdoors (while practicing safe distancing).
- Are you reaching out to your family and friends for support? All of us need some extra love and attention right now.
- Are your sleep habits a real mess? Get back on a regular schedule!
- Are your eating habits in hibernation mode? You have a golden opportunity right now to clean up your diet and lose some extra pounds.
A very safe and healthy way to relieve those gut-brain blues and boost your immune system without a drug — taking a multi-strain probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria — is one of the best choices you can make.
And, if you need some extra help to lose a few pounds, you may want to consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue with its proven formula of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS that promotes a greater sense of fullness and healthier blood sugar levels too.
There’s no question obesity rates are growing sharply across all age groups of Americans.
So far, nearly 40 percent of all adults age 20 and older have lost the battle with obesity, based on statistics collected by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
As with many health problems, however, problems with obesity start very early. According to the NCHS, some 14 percent of young children as early as age 2 may already be obese, and the numbers keep climbing to 20.6 percent by the time kids reach young adulthood.
These statistics appear to be pretty close to the mark, if not a little low, according to data collected by Harvard University that we cited recently.
What could trigger that slide to obesity so quickly?
Exposure to antibiotics and heartburn drugs in the gut may be the culprits, according to a recent report appearing the journal Gut.
Too many “helpful” drugs?
Researchers examined the records of more than 330,000 children enrolled in the U.S. Department of Defense’s TRICARE health system, looking specifically for antibiotic and heartburn drugs (H2 blockers and PPIs) prescribed to kids during the first two years of their lives.
Nearly every child in the study had been prescribed at least one round of antibiotics (72.5 percent) or a heartburn drug (15 percent), and nearly 6,000 kids were prescribed at least one round of all three drugs.
Roughly 37,000 of the 47,000 of children who became obese over the eight-year study were prescribed a heartburn drug or antibiotic. A single round of prescribed antibiotics elevated a child’s obesity risks by 26 percent.
Another gut-related factor to childhood obesity discovered by scientists — C-section births — was a difference-maker, too.
The good news about this study: health providers are becoming more aware by the day about the damage common “helpful” drugs like heartburn meds and antibiotics can do to the bodies of our little ones (and their parents too), often through harming their gut health.
My probiotic protocol
There are times your children just can’t avoid taking an antibiotic or heartburn drug.
My best recommendation to protect the health of your kids and yourself safely and effective: Follow my simple protocol for taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria.
One more thing to remember about taking a probiotic: Give your child’s body at least a two-hour break between taking an antibiotic or heartburn drug and a probiotic to allow those beneficial bacteria to do their work to protect his/her gut.
Just a reminder that EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic contains four key strains of helpful bacteria and a prebiotic (FOS) that helps feed the good bugs in their gut.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the number one reason patients are referred to gastroenterologists.
IBS is a chronic disorder that creates a variety of painful symptoms, including diarrhea, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and other abdominal pain.
Anywhere from 10-20 percent of Americans commonly experience IBS symptoms (usually younger than age 45). Typically, IBS affects twice as many women as it does men and often begins during young adulthood.
Despite the ability of modern medicine to spot the symptoms of IBS, nailing down a culprit has been far more difficult.
Certainly, stress may be a trigger for IBS, given the role the gut-brain axis plays in connecting your intestines, emotions and brain. The kinds of foods and the amounts we consume (too many carbohydrates) can also be big problems. Ditto for alcohol.
Although there’s no definitive tests for IBS, your gastroenterologist will want to perform some of these procedures to help him/her rule out other health problems.
- Blood work
- Stool culture
- Colonoscopy or upper GI endoscopy
- Hydrogen breath test
Another aspect that makes treating this disease really tricky: There’s different subtypes of IBS: Diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D), constipation-predominant (IBS-C) and alternating type (IBS-A).
And, IBS is a health problem that patients can switch from one subtype to another.
Treating a moving target
Many doctors will recommend some very basic lifestyle changes that may make a difference, especially if a patient’s IBS symptoms are mild:
- Avoiding high-gas foods and gluten.
- Eating more fiber and low FODMAP meals (with supervision from a physician or dietician.
- Getting more sleep and exercise.
- Reducing stress as much as possible.
(If some of these lifestyle changes sound familiar to you, health care professionals recommend them for fighting the obesity epidemic too.)
Physicians can prescribe medications, but shifts in an IBS patient’s subtype make that problematic too. For example, one drug for IBS-D — alosetron (Lotronex) — is recommended only for women with IBD-D and with special precautions and warnings.
Should stress also play a role, your doctor may want to prescribe an antidepressant drug, like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (fluvoxamine or sertraline), an older tricyclic drug (amitriptyline or imipramine) or an antispasmodic drug (dicyclomine).
The probiotic approach
Out of the many non-drug therapies medical experts cite to control IBS, however, probiotics always seems to rise to the top of the list because they are among the safest ways to treat this condition effectively.
Why? Probiotics are much more versatile in the ways they work in your body, compared to a drug.
They do a great job in maintaining the motility in your intestines and lessening constipation, a key symptom of IBS.
And, probiotics are a safe, effective means to treat diarrhea and reducing its duration.
When emotions and stress begin to manifest in problems with your gut-brain axis, probiotics can be a difference-making tool.
But not just any probiotic will do.
A very recent review of studies appearing in the medical journal Nutrients that examined controlled trials over the past five years underscored the effectiveness of multi-strain probiotics in relationship to IBS.
Of the 11 studies that met the final cut for the review, seven of them reported significant improvements among IBS patients taking probiotics. But that’s not all.
Eight of those 11 trials evaluated how IBS patients benefit from taking a daily multi-strain probiotic. When IBS patients were given multi-strain probiotics for eight weeks or more, the benefits were far more distinct, especially over a long period of time.
Probiotics containing a single species of bacteria may be good for treating one specific problem, but not several health challenges like those that occur with IBS.
Your gut contains a diverse accumulation of bacteria, 10 times more than the cells in your body (in the tens of trillions) and more than 1,000 different species.
That’s why a multi-species probiotic is built to be a more effective way to treat the symptoms associated with IBS and give your body’s immune system a healthy boost.
Taking a probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families (plus a prebiotic that feeds the bugs in your gut) like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic can be a safer, better alternative for treating IBS that may help you avoid taking a prescription drug too.
A Harvard study came to the sobering conclusion nearly two years ago that a majority of today’s children (57 percent) are projected to become obese by the time they reach age 35. Would you feel a little better about your child’s future knowing you could take steps to protect her/him from becoming an obesity statistic? Medical science may be able to predict if a child is at risk for becoming overweight or obese by checking his/her microbiome at age 2.
Body mass index (BMI) was the key takeaway from an analysis of gut health data collected from the Norwegian Microbiota (NoMIC) study of children born between 2002-08 in a southern Norway hospital who are close to or already in their teen years (the findings were published in the journal, mBio). Researchers from Norway and the U.S. examined gut health information collected on 165 children six times during their first two years of life — day 4, day 10, 1 month, 4 months, 1 year and 2 years — then compared it to their body mass index (BMI) at age 12. Based on gene sequencing, scientists found noticeable differences in a child’s gut bacteria at two distinct times — day 10 and age 2 — that were associated with an accurate BMI prediction at age 12.
“At the early time points, there was somewhat of a relationship between the gut microbiota taxa and later BMI, but the relationship was much stronger as the kids got older,” says Dr. Maggie Stanislawski, the first author for the study who works at the LEAD Center, affiliated with the Colorado School of Public Health. “At 2 years, it was the strongest.” Moreover, this gut health profile existed before any outward signs of extra weight or obesity, leading scientists to speculate poor dietary choices could be the culprit.
These findings also mirror ones from a recent report about the overuse of antibacterial cleaners depleting a baby’s gut of just enough health-promoting bacteria that it elevated her/his obesity risks by age 3.
What you can do about it
Giving your child a gut-healthy start is critical to their health, even into their active teen years. Breastfeeding coupled with natural childbirth can make a HUGE difference in your baby’s gut health, along with feeding them good foods rich in dietary fiber.
Also, you want to be aware limit your child’s exposure to antibiotics as much as you safely can. The more you expose your young child to antibiotics, the greater his/her risk of obesity. One more safe and healthy way to boost the gut health of your son or daughter and protect him/her from the many health risks associated with childhood obesity is also an easy one.
If you’ve been looking for probiotics for children, EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic contains four key building blocks of beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic that feeds the good bugs in your child’s gut. Moreover, EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic comes in a powder you can sprinkle on soft foods (for children up to age 3) and a chewable berry-flavored tablet (for children ages 3-8).
Keeping your home a bit “too clean” by using common multi-surface disinfectants could be changing and harming your child’s gut bacteria by making them more susceptible to obesity.
That’s the chief finding from data culled from an examination of fecal samples collected from 757 Canadian babies, along with their exposure to various cleaning products, according to a recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Babies living in homes where disinfectants were used every week were twice as likely to have increased levels of one bacteria (Lachnospiraceae), according to researchers.
That difference in one strain of bacteria was enough to elevate the chances of young children being overweight by age 3, compared to kids who weren’t exposed to disinfectants as infants, says Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, the principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project that examines how altering the gut health of infants impacts their health.
Canadian scientists could see the connection, especially as they discovered babies living in households with greater use of more eco-friendly cleaners had a decreased risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Although this study cited concerns about the use of antibacterial cleaners, researchers didn’t track the kinds of chemicals being used to clean the homes where their participants lived as babies.
Still, these results may be more evidence of the hygiene hypothesis, in which the body’s immune responses are reversed due to continuing exposure to disinfectants, antibacterial chemicals, antibiotics and bottled water, all of them intended to make our lives way too clean.
(The hygiene hypothesis can also work to protect kids from health problems like asthma. For example, Amish children surrounded by nature, farm animals and common house dust — a less hygienic environment than most homes — were less likely to suffer from asthma, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report.)
Fortunately, there’s a simple and healthy solution to protect the delicate balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut and reduce his/her risks of obesity at the same time (especially for moms who can’t breastfeed for very long or at all).
A quarter-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. Powder, recommended for children up to age 3, contains four strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria families along with a prebiotic (FOS) that keeps their gut health in balance.