You can add weight to the growing list of bodily functions that are controlled (or at the very least, impacted) by your gut. Yep, the all-powerful microbiome can even make it more or less difficult for you to shed unwanted pounds (even if you're eating healthy and working out consistently).
"Your immune system, brain, and mood are all largely controlled by your microbiome, and we are constantly discovering more connections between gut health and weight," explains William Cole, a clinical nutritionist and functional medicine doctor, for Mindbodygreen. "I find that many patients are not able to lose weight until they deal with their underlying gut problems." Here are the three main gut issues that may be standing in the way of a healthy weight, as explained by Cole:
You Have a Bacterial Imbalance
We've spoken about the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, and how certain foods nourish each group. As it turns out, "Research has found that people who are overweight and obese have lower microbiome diversity," explains Cole. Those who experience weight loss resistance have fewer "good" bacteria, like bacteroids and verrucomicrobia, and more "bad" bacteria, like actinobacteria and firmicutes.
Your Gut Is Disrupting Your Sleep
Of course, there's also a lot of the sleep hormone, melatonin, in your gut. "In short, an unhealthy microbiome will mess up your sleep," notes Cole. "The problem? Losing out on sleep can make fat cells 30 percent less able to deal with your fat-storing hormone, insulin." The end result for many is weight-loss resistance or even weight gain.
Your Short-Chain Fatty Acid Levels Are Low
Short-chain fatty acids, or SCFAs, prevent gut problems, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in your stomach. "Research is finding that our SCFAs also promote weight loss, and the three types of SCFAs (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) all decrease cravings," adds Cole. A lack thereof can result in overeating or potential weight gain.