Just because something is small, like an atom, a microchip, or a mosquito, does not eliminate its ability to have a huge impact. That is the definitive truth when it comes to the bacteria in your gut. The 100 trillion tiny microbes known as gut flora that call your digestive tract home play a pivotal role in everything from your immune system to your digestion to your mood. But researchers are now convinced that there is something else that your microbiome, your internal microbial ecosystem affects, your weight.
“The gut is connected to everything,” says Mark Hyman, M.D. and Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. “If your microbiome is out of whack, i.e., it doesn’t have enough good bacteria or too much bad bacteria, it can affect how your food is metabolized as well as lead to inflammation.” It’s a cascade of casualties: Bad bacteria in the gut can trigger inflammation in your skin, joints, brain and everywhere, and can send your body’s immune response into overdrive as it tries to rid the body of the harmful bacteria. This can trigger insulin resistance, which in turn can promote weight gain, according to Hyman’s research results.
The theory is that more good bacteria helps you process food more efficiently and reduce cravings. Initially we are all born with very little bacteria in our guts, but through external exposure that amount slowly increases. It varies widely based on type of birth (vaginal versus C-section), environment (city versus country), and diet and lifestyle factors. The average American today has a lot less bacteria than in the past, mostly because of a modern-day diet that is low in probiotics, according to John Axe, a clinical nutritionist and the author of Eat Dirt. Top that off with antibiotic overuse and you have an imbalanced gut that could be causing a variety of ailments in addition to making you hold on to extra pounds.
In spite, of all this dire news, there is a positive remedy. Changes made to your diet can have favorable effects in a relatively short amount of time. If you improve your overall gut health and make the choice to lose unwanted/unhealthy excess weight, the organic system in your belly can make dramatic changes which translate into overall reduction of symptoms, thus decreasing your vulnerability to disease. The result is improved overall health.
There are some new research findings regarding COVID-19 and disease severity. Decades of research has shown that Vitamin D is a vital component to a healthy immune system. As we continue along through this viral time, COVID pandemic findings out of the University of Cincinnati Health System show that patients with Vitamin D deficiencies are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized. They also have increased severity of symptoms. While all this research is new and ongoing, it is statistically interesting to note. Safe physical distancing, hand-washing, and wearing face masks are all appropriate, but keeping your own immune system in its healthiest condition substantially increases your maximum protection.
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