The gut microbiome is a rich and varied ecosystem which consists of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that live inside the digestive system and interact with virtually all human cells. The state of our microbiome massively affects our health and how our body functions.
Having a damaged or disrupted microbiome can impact every aspect of our biology. It is so central to our well-being and plays such a vital role in our body that it has been called the second brain by experts.
Scientists have found links between the health of our gut flora and our ability to lose weight and build muscle. I will discuss those in this article.
One study that supports the idea that a healthy microbiome aids muscle growth is one done by Prof. John McCarthy, PHD, a professr of physiology in the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Along with his colleagues they set out to conduct a study involving mice, weighted wheels and anti-biotics.
To carry out the study they seperated mice into two groups. One group was the control, and the other group was administered antibiotics through water in order to damage their gut bacteria.
(It is well known that anti-biotics cause dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the gut microflora.)
For 9 weeks they let the mice run on the weighted wheels, monitoring them, making sure the group who were on antibiotics were running the same amount as the control group.
Although both mice ran for the same amount of time, the mice who received antibiotics had slower and less pronounced muscle growth in response to the exercise.
Another study compared the gut microbiome in 18 adults with high-physical functioning and favourable body composition, and 11 with low physical functioning and less favourable body composition. The findings showed that the bacterial profiles of the two groups were significantly different. Researchers then inoculated mice with the bacteria from both groups of humans. They found that the mice with bacteria from the adults with “favourable body composition” had more grip strength than when compared to LF-colonized mice.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science stated that the gut bacterium A. Muciniphila – the foremost bacteria in the gut’s nutrient-dense mucus layer – may be the key to treating obesity and related metabolic disorders. Researchers found that A. muciniphila were at below average levels in mice with obesity and type 2 diabetes, suggesting that the bacteria plays a critical role in these two conditions. When researchers gave probiotics to the at-risk mice, their levels of A. muciniphila increased, improving the functioning of their gut lining and lead to a reversal of fat mass, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Another study found a connection between weight loss and gut bacteria, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington.
To understand what effect a persons gut mirobes have on weight loss, the researchers looked at 105 overweight people, all of whom were enrolled in a year-long weight loss programme. To track their weight loss, the researchers recorded participants’ starting body mass index. They also took stool samples.
At the end of the period, te researchers compared the gut bacteria of those who lost weight. They discovered a link, in people who lost more weight, they had more beneficial bacterial enzymes in the gut. (they accounted for other factors, such as cholesterol levels and blood markers of metabolism to rule out other explanations)
The authors also found that the growth of bacterial colonies – in particular the bacteria Prevotella – help to produce higher levels of healthy substances like short-chain fatty acids. These substances are known to reduce inflammation, which may facilitate weight loss.
Tips for Cultivate a Healthy Gut Microbiome
- Reduce stress
- Get plenty sleep
- Avoid antibiotics and birth control
- Eat vegetables
- Take probiotics
- Cut back on red meat
- Avoid refined carbs and sugars
- Eat a varied diet and stay active
Mindset has a massive effect on all aspects of health. Make sure you cultivate a healthy mental inner environment in order to have a healthy inner body environment. To learn more about this read my article “Using the Placebo Effect To Achieve Fitness Goals“