Gut Bacteria And Body Composition: The Disgusting Guide To Good Health

Time to read 4 min

Listening or wanting to talk about bacteria is not something we would particularly love to do because with bacteria, we associate disease. But did you know that your body already hosts millions of bacteria? Even as you read this article now, there are countless bacteria active inside you!

Grossed out? Well, don’t be. Many of these bacteria are helpful for the body and live in the intestines, termed under the umbrella of Microbiota or Gut Bacteria.

Gut microbes team up with the human body and affect digestion, energy metabolism and immune function.

Did you know? Human gut microbes contribute to 36 percent of the small molecules found in human blood. Therefore, it is a safe bet to say that our gut microbes function as a virtual but vital organ in our body.

 Gut bacteria can sense the changing nature of food supply in their host’s gut which enables them to modulate the absorption and utilization of resources based on the changing consumption thereby enabling them to detect how much of the consumed food-energy the host can assimilate and how much is to be sent out as waste.

Having established that gut bacteria play a major role in determining energy expenditure and storage, we can now estimate the importance of these microbes in body composition.

The Influence On Fat Composition In The Body

Certain bacteria in the gut produce toxins called endotoxins. One particular endotoxin created by such bacteria, when combined with a high fat and high sugar diet, triggers silent inflammation that contributes to weight gain and the accumulation of fat. 

It is fair to say that such an endotoxin is not by and itself dangerous, but in combination with our lifestyle, it can cause harm. Indeed, the question we need to ask is, “I know that what I eat influences my fat levels, but just how does the process happen?” One answer lies in bacterial endotoxins.

Role In Providing Nutrients

Gut bacteria do play a role in providing vital nutrients for the body. They make Vitamin B7, a nutrient useful for cell repair, healthy skin and hair. They also assimilate Vitamin B12, which carries oxygenated blood around the body. Finally, they also help us make Vitamin K which has a role to play in immunity. 

So, if gut bacteria do not do their job well, we will be lacking in all of the above mentioned essential nutrients. 

Now we know the importance of gut bacteria in the day to day functioning of the human body.

  • An unhealthy gastrointestinal tract can cause an imbalance in gut flora.
  • Imbalanced intestinal tract can be caused by low stomach acid, diarrhoea, constipation or by malnutrition.
  • Altered gut flora can in turn cause intestinal damage, mal-digestion and malabsorption. Food not completely digested can provide unusual substrates for gut bacteria, which they can then convert to harmful substances. Apart from the above conditions, a disturbance in the gut bacteria can lead to a disease condition call Candida.

What is Candida?

Candida is a group of organisms (yeast) naturally occurring on the skin, mucous membranes, intestines and vagina. There are many species of Candida but the one we are concerned about is Candida Albicans. When there is an overgrowth of this yeast, it causes a fungal infection.

A Candida usually shows the following symptoms:

1. Fatigue.
2. Weight gain.
3. Headaches.
4. Indigestion.
5. Food intolerance.
6. Muscle and joint pains.
7. Allergies.
8. Frequent urination etc.

As you can see, all of these are very generic symptoms that can be associated wrongly with several other diseases. When in doubt, stop eating all sugars for a few weeks. If you feel better, you probably have Candida that needs to be treated.

Relation Between Candida And Gut Bacteria 

When the normal intestinal flora is healthy, the toxins are kept in check and pose no danger to health. However, if you are diagnosed with Candida, it necessarily means that there is a disturbance in the digestive tract’s intestinal flora and the good bacteria have been replaced to a extent by some bad yeast.

  • Remember, growth of organisms in the body, wanted or otherwise, is subject to the conditions we provide them with.
  • In order to get the system back to normal working conditions, it is not just necessary to eliminate excess Candida.
  • We need to re-populate our intestines with good bacteria and strive to remove those conditions that are allowing Candida to flourish.

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, founder of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet, naturally fermented foods contain up to a hundred times the probiotics found in a good supplement. Examples- idlies, yogurt, some fermented cheeses and some Indian chutneys.

Making Gut Bacteria Work For Us

The following foods and habits can help greatly in improving the health of gut bacteria.

  1. To keep gut flora intact, eat fermented vegetables several times a week. To ferment, let the food sit in liquids like water or buttermilk until the bacteria naturally residing on the surface of the food digest some of the sugars. 
  2. Never eat in a hurry and chew your food properly. 
  3. Get into the habit of maintaining a 12 hour fast between Dinner and Breakfast. Having a long stretch in the 24 hour cycle without food has been shown to improve the microbiome and increase metabolism. In short, try and avoid mid-night cravings. This can in turn help you eat a better breakfast as well.
  4. People who work out have a more diverse microbiome than those who don’t. What’s more, exercise is great to set body composition right too, so get moving!

* Medical Disclaimer - The following information is for educational purposes only. No information provided on this website, including text, graphic, and images, are intended as substitutes for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor about specific medical advice pertaining to your condition(s). 

Tests to consider

Supplements to consider