How Crucial Is the Gut Microbiome in Supporting Metabolic Health?
The instant you take a bite of food, your body begins the work of making it energy. After you swallow the food, it follows its way down your esophagus, into your stomach, and then into your intestinal tract to find those microorganisms in your gut.
Scientists have recently discovered that those tiny creatures are a vital role in turning our food into energy. So while having a balanced diet and doing regular exercise is essential for maintaining health, that's really only part of the story.
Your body's metabolism is also regulated by these hidden players in our gut, which we collectively call our microbiome. So this relationship between our microbiome and our metabolism can be off-kilter if we're consuming a diet low in fiber or the standard American diet, which has a lot of processed foods.
And if this has happened, your microbiome can reduce the amount of energy it produces from the food that you're eating, and it has a way of shaping our metabolic health, increasing inflammation, and causing other chronic diseases.
But of course, there's good news. And the good news is that we can take a proactive role in changing our microbiome. And today that's what we're going to discuss. We're going to discuss your metabolism and your gut health.
My name is Marcie Vaske and I'm a functional medicine nutritionist working with Oswald digestive clinic, where I see so many clients who struggle with abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and that's really just to name a few of the symptoms.
And so if that sounds like you or someone you know, you can schedule an initial appointment with me or our other practitioner, Katie, we would love to help you. We're very good at what we do, and if you need a little push in the right direction or just don't know where to go, please check out our website.
Or if you're kind of a person who likes to do things on their own, you can download our free guide: Five Ways to Improve Your Gut Health.
So if you are just kind of just learning more about the gut and you're thinking maybe you have a few problems, but you're not sure, this is a great guide to the kind of help you walk through some of the symptoms that you might be feeling. And then, of course, ways to improve it.
Importance of Gut Microbiome in Metabolic Health
So first, a little bit about why the gut microbiome is so important. Our gut microbiome is filled with trillions of microorganisms, and these microorganisms are essential to our overall health.
And as research continues, we learn more and more about what these microorganisms have the capacity to do and not do. So today, I'm going to talk about metabolism and gut health and how they are connected.
Now, researchers generally believe that our microbiome really begins at birth. And as soon as you come out, if you have a vaginal birth, you will get a lot of that bifidobacterium from your mother.
And it slowly evolves and changes as you are a toddler, a child, or a teen. But by adulthood, we kind of have the microbiome that we're going to have.
Now, that's not to say that we can't make it worse or make it better, but we have those microorganisms in there that are going to give us the tools to keep our bodies healthy.
Now, studies have shown that individuals with diets higher in fiber have far better flora and the makeup of their microbiome than individuals who are consuming a highly sugared diet or processed food diet.
Now, when it comes to metabolic diseases, scientists have found that there's a distinct difference between individuals who are lean versus obese and even individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Now, if you are in the category of being a little overweight or obese or you have type 2 diabetes, this doesn't mean you need this microbiome to be set in stone. You have the ability to make a change.
So you might be asking, well...
How does the microbiome in our gut change our metabolism?
Now what happens is that our microbes speak the same language to our cells and communicate by producing metabolites. Those metabolites are easily read by the cells that they need to help.
The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Metabolic Health
Now, one example is something called short-chain fatty acids, and short-chain fatty acids are produced by dietary fiber in our diet. And when we produce these metabolites of short-term fatty acids, such as butyrate, and propionate, they help communicate and increase our metabolism.
Now, one of these short-chain fatty acids that are produced, which is called butyrate, is often has been found to be lower in individuals with obesity.
Now, butyrate has also been found to be low in individuals with diabetes. And so there's a link between these conditions with lower butyrate and higher rates of obesity and diabetes.
The Importance of GLP-1 in Metabolic Health
Our gut harbors sensor hormones, which are called Incretins, and these detect and help to absorb metabolize and store energy, and aid in the communication between the gut and other organs in our body, like our brain, our pancreas, our liver, and our muscles.
One such incretin is called glucagon-like peptide 1, short GLP-1, and this hormone helps signal the release of insulin, and insulin uptakes the glucose from our blood and gets it into the cell.
Now, GLP-1 maybe isn't as infamous as insulin, but it's extremely important in maintaining our blood sugar. GLP-1 also helps to keep us fuller longer and keeps our blood sugar managed better. It helps to decrease our appetite and to make us more insulin sensitive.
Consumption of Fiber for Better Metabolic Health
Now, another way that our microbiome helps our metabolism is through the consumption of fiber. As I mentioned earlier, those dietary fibers turn into short-chain fatty acids, which increases our butyrate. And with the short-chain fatty acid, they also stimulate GLP-1.
So if there are changes to your gut microbiome that diminish short-chain fatty acids, that means it's also going to diminish that signaling to the GLP one that helps to keep our blood sugar balanced or to use our sugars and glucose properly in the body.
Maintaining Gut Integrity for Better Metabolic Health
Now we know that our microbiome also keeps the integrity of our gut strong. If there is a downgrade of your microbiome, oftentimes, we find things like the integrity of your intestinal tract has loosened things like something called our Tight junctions. And by that time, then we're getting a lot of toxins into our bloodstream.
Strengthen Our Immune System for Better Metabolic Health
Now, another way that our microbiome helps our body is by keeping our immune system nice and strong. We harbor 80% of our immune cells in our intestinal tract. So these are ways that the microbiome supports the body.
So the question comes to.....
How can we change our microbiome to help support a better metabolism?
Healthy Diet to Improve Metabolic Health
And I'm sure you guessed what I was going to say is that DIET. Our diet is going to be extremely important how in the diversity and composition of our microbiome.
So if you're eating the standard American diet, which is filled, as I mentioned earlier, with processed foods, high-sugar items, and lots of carbohydrates, that's going to decrease the diversity of your microbiome.
So instead, you want to change your diet up to things that are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so that would be fruits and vegetables, and making sure you're getting enough high-quality proteins as well as those healthy fats that are going to help keep your microbiome in the best state it can be in.
Because, as we even walk around each day and we take in environmental toxins all the time, and that alone can degrade our microbiome. And so making sure that you're getting in that dietary fiber, enough proteins, and some good healthy fats, you are going to set yourself up for success and keep your gut working in a positive manner towards your metabolism.
Incorporating Prebiotics: A Dietary Boost for Metabolic Health
Now, if diet alone is, and you've tried that, you've been doing that for a while, and you still kind of feel like your gut might not be clicking on all cylinders, you can always increase prebiotics into your diet, and you can eat them in the way of like Jerusalem roots or even chicory root. They are high in Inulin, which is a great prebiotic.
But there are lots of supplements out there, and here is the most suggested one:
1). DYNAMIC FIBER
You can also just add it to your daily diet super easily, put it in smoothies or in yogurts or just in water and drink it.
But it's a great way to kind of increase those short-chain fatty acids and increase the production of healthy organisms in your gut.
Take Probiotics to Enhance Metabolic Health
Now the last piece that I would say is that you can also take probiotics. We've done several blogs on probiotics, on the positives and negatives, and what probiotics really help with, and they can be super beneficial.
And I think that...
it's always worth it to try probiotics and see if that makes a difference in your gut microbiome. And sometimes it's taking them for a few months and then stopping because things are feeling pretty good. It's not something you need to take all the time.
And if you want more information, then you can definitely check out our other blogs on our probiotics.
Here Are Suggested High-Quality Probiotic Supplements:
But finding ways to keep a healthy gut, a healthy gut, as we've talked in many of our blogs about, is so instrumental in keeping so many different systems in your body healthy.
And as we talked about today, just keeping your metabolism healthy so that you can live the life you want, feeling good and not feeling run down, and keeping that metabolism moving in the right direction.
So I hope that was helpful for you today, learning a little bit more about the details of how our gut microbiome really impacts our metabolism.
If you want more information, as I said, please check out our very informative blogs. We appreciate that.
And if you need more help or more just a kind of guidance in your diet or just in your health, of course, at Oswald Digestive Clinic, we'd be happy to help you.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Curious about what type of gut you have? Take our Free Quiz now!