The idea that the digestive system plays a vital role in the ability to lose weight makes sense, when you think about it. When overeating or consuming foods that are hard for the body to break down, digestion slows and the waste gets compacted within the body. Over time the development of a sluggish digestive system and waste buildup leads to weight gain.
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According to Lily Soutter, there are plenty of healthy bacteria already in the gut that when fed with the right food will boost the metabolic activity, help with breaking down and digestion of food, produce and absorb nutrients and increase the rate at which weight is lost.
She explained: “Our gut bacteria play a key role in digesting the food we eat including the production and absorption of nutrients.
“Our gut microbes have also been shown to play a role with immune function, weight and even mood.”
Lily recommends these five simple steps to improve digestion and increase weight loss;
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1. Eat a high fibre diet
Lily said: “We all know that fibre is good for us, yet on average we drastically under consume this critical component of the diet.
“A diet and nutrition survey conducted by Public Health England showered that on average a Briton consumes about 18 grams out of the recommended 30 grams of fibre per day.
“Since fibre is the primary source of fuel for our healthy gut bacteria, a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds also helps our bacteria to flourish and grow,” said Lily.
2. Opt for antioxidant and fibre rich berries
Fruit and vegetables are great for digesting, but as many as 70 percent of adults within the UK are currently not even consuming the recommended five a day .
Lily explained: “Having sufficient fibre, which is found in fresh fruit and veg is a must for gut health.
“Berries are especially important, partly due to their high fibre content. Did you know that fresh raspberries have as much as 6.7g fibre per 100g?”
Berries are also a super-rich source of special antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that give berries their distinctive blue/red hue.
These anthocyanins are metabolised in the gut and help healthy gut bacteria to flourish and grow whilst offsetting unsavoury gut bacteria.
3. Prebiotic foods
There are some foods which are particularly effective for encouraging healthy gut bacteria to flourish and boost weight loss. Some foods are rich in a special type of prebiotic fibres, that act as a source of fuel for healthy gut bacteria and effectively stimulate their growth.
“Top sources [of fuel from food] include Jerusalem artichoke, flaxseeds and even garlic and onion,” said Lily.
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4. Eat the rainbow
A lack of diversity with the types of bacteria within the gut is thought to be associated with disease. Diverse microbiome is thought to be a healthier and more robust microbiota, therefore eating different plant-based foods weekly can improve digestion and boost the rate at which food is broken down, which increases the rate at which weight is lost.
Lily said: “Rainbow coloured plant-based foods provide a range of plant chemicals such as polyphenols which our gut bacteria feast on. A diverse diet can encourage a diverse range of healthy gut bacteria to grow.
“Therefore eating the rainbow and counting the colours within our diet can really optimise our microbiota.”
According to research from The American Gut Project, gut microbiota thrives if people aim to consume 30 or more different varieties of plant foods each week.
“Aim for two fistfuls or fill half your plate with rainbow coloured fruit and veg,” said Lily. “Aim to switch things up weekly by opting for a mix of colourful fresh berries including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.”
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a rich source of plant chemicals called polyphenols which have prebiotic properties.
Lily said: “When our friendly gut bacteria break down these polyphenols they produce metabolites which are thought to support gut health.”
When consuming dark chocolate, in moderation, it poses several health and weight loss benefits such as lower the risk of heart disease, stabilise blood sugar, control appetite and reduce cravings. Thereby facilitating weight loss.
“[Dark] chocolate is still high in sugar and fat, therefore moderation is key,” said Lily.
“You could always try dipping some gut-friendly strawberries into dark chocolate for a healthier twist,” she recommended.
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