So a few realizations converged on me simultaneously over the past few weeks. It started while reading an article on environmental conditions that cause cancer. This, through a circuitous path led to me reading up on our gut bacteria… our gut bacteria is starting to be thought of as more than just resident, (usually) helpful bugs, but actually as another organ. One that is vitally important in our health as well as our metabolism.
Interestingly, thin people and fat people have different make-ups in their gut bacteria and while this science is still relatively new, there have been studies that show that obese mice have lost weight after taking on gut bacteria from thin mice (by eating their poo… maybe that’s why animals eat each others’ poo? It’s actually a fast way to diversify your gut flora).
Anyhow, I’ve read through a lot of information out there and started to self-experiment. I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life. I also was on antibiotics quite a lot as a youngster and through my early life. I started to hypothesize that the repeated elimination of my gut bacteria by general antibiotics as a kid led to me having an unhealthy flora which in turn led to an unhealthy appetite, eating decisions, and metabolism (none of my three siblings are overweight and none of them took antibiotics as much as I did as a kid… I had a lot of ENT infections) which has led to my adult weight problems. Therefore, if I can replace my gut bacteria with healthier strains that should lead to a virtuous cycle of weight loss.
To effect this, I’ve started eating yogurt and kimchi every day because they are extraordinary at establishing healthy probiotics in the gut. In addition, I’ve been eating what are referred to as “prebiotics” or, essentially, the whole foods that help to maintain a healthy environment for the gut bacteria. These include organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and very limited meat consumption (shocker there).
One of the really surprising things that I’ve learned in this process is that the modern “engineered” foods so commonly eaten in the US actually destroy good gut bacteria:
- Artificial sweetners
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Trans Fats
So even if you consume the same number of calories, if you consume the above foods and kill of the “good” bacteria in your GI tract, you will get fatter than someone eating whole foods. I suppose we’ve long suspected this, but the science is coming together to show it now. These foods are toxic (killing off the cancer-fighting, fat-fighting organisms in our bodies) and they are making us fat.
One interesting note; apparently the EU has banned High Fructose Corn Syrup. I’ve been reading ingredient labels here in Singapore and I haven’t seen that ingredient on any product (Coke here uses sugar, for example). Many of my colleagues (and myself included) who have spent some amount of time here notice weight loss, even if they are eating more food than they would back home in the US… could this be related to the elimination of this pervasive, toxic food that is omnipresent in American foods?
Oh, and regarding the testing of my hypothesis… when I first started eating a lot of whole grains, fruits, and veggies I felt so bloated and tired! Now the probiotics seem to be taking hold, however, and I’m starting to feel so much leaner, more energetic, and clear-headed. I’ll continue to update as I progress down this path. In some ways I actually feel like a different person.