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Bacteria in your gut? A good thing?
Absolutely. If they stay where they belong.
But when leaky gut syndrome exists, those bacteria and their toxins escape into your bloodstream, where they do not belong, and wreak havoc.
They can cause chronic bloating, headache, indigestion, diarrhea and nausea, as well as more severe conditions, such as irritable bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
What’s more, researchers have discovered they kickstart a vicious cycle of obesity by interfering with the metabolism of fat cells.
Here’s how that happens, and what you can do about it…
White fat vs. brown fat
To understand how this vicious cycle works, you’ll need to understand the difference between two types of fat we carry in our bodies.
There’s white fat. That’s the kind your body stores that shows up in bulges around your belly, hips, and thighs. That’s the kind of fat we don’t want.
Then, there’s our hero: brown fat.
Brown fat (the kind you want) helps burn off the calories we eat each day.
Browning is the process that turns white fat into brown fat and can be stimulated by exercise, exposure to cold and calorie restriction.
How leaky gut starts the obesity cycle
An international group of researchers took a look at how weight is affected when substances called endotoxins are released into the blood.
Endotoxins are found within the walls of bacteria. They are a normal part of the digestive tract, and their function is to trigger inflammation when an infection is present.
But when a leaky gut allows endotoxins to escape the gut and enter the bloodstream, it interferes with the normal functioning of fat cells. Specifically, it slows or stops the browning process, which is crucial to reducing the amount of stored fat and maintaining a healthy weight.
And since obese people already have less resilient guts, endotoxins have more chance of escaping into the bloodstream.
And so the cycle goes.
But if you can work to prevent leaky gut and keep endotoxins out of your blood, you’ve already won half the battle.
How to help a leaky gut
A leaky gut leaks because damage to the lining has made it more permeable. Normally the junctures are just tight enough to allow nutrients to be absorbed and passed into the body, but keep bacteria and waste inside the intestinal walls until they exit the body.
If you’re not sure if you’re affected by leaky gut, first familiarize yourself with the most common symptoms.
Studies have shown that what you eat, and what you don’t eat, are keys to keeping the gut in healthy shape.
One of the most powerful foods to do just that is broccoli. In studies with mice, it was found to contain molecules involved in signaling cells in the intestines to halt inflammatory processes and repair damaged cells. That process helps keep the gut lining intact.
Next are polyphenols, natural antioxidants found in a variety of foods like apples, berries and green tea. In the gut, they increase helpful bacteria, reduce harmful bacteria, and prevent damaging inflammation. A recent study found that eating foods rich in polyphenols increased products of cell metabolism that improve the health of the gut and decreased those that cause intestinal permeability.
Certain supplements can also help.
Now, the foods you want to eat much less of include processed junk foods because they contain refined oils, added sugars and artificial sweeteners — and are considered inflammatory. They also contain gluten — which can aggravate digestive symptoms.
A whole foods diet, like the Mediterranean diet, is probably the best way to ensure foods that can promote weight loss and a healthy gut — which is ultimately the best way to keep your gut in shape and break the cycle.
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