Your Digestive System May Be Making You Fat

Your Digestive System May Be Making You Fat

It may be the bugs in your digestive tract and the way they upset your gut’s immune system that might be behind those extra pounds.

People can lose significant amounts of weight, just by cutting food allergens from their diet. And they have also lost 20 to 30 pounds, simply by balancing the bacterial ecosystem in their intestinal system.

One patient, a 38-year-old woman, had chronic inflammation, fluid retention, acne, fatigue, and joint pain, as well as irritable bowel syndrome with bloating and gas. She had tried every known diet, but was unable to lose weight.

She could not lose weight because she was inflamed. Imbalances in her gut and the food sensitivities that result led to the inflammation.

But when she eliminated the foods to which she was allergic or sensitive, and took some healthy bacteria to heal her gut, she lost 35 pounds in a few months – and all her other symptoms went away too.

The big debate in medicine is which comes first: inflammation or obesity. I have always believed that we become inflamed first, and gain weight second – which makes us even more inflamed, perpetuating the cycle. Now incredible new research bears this out.

Inflammation and Weight Gain

The first study, published in December 2007, looked at two groups of children. The first group was overweight and the second was normal weight. (i) The researchers measured three key factors connected to inflammation.

First, they looked at high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker that shows the general level of inflammation in the body. Then they looked for plaque or thickening in the carotid arteries (the main arteries that supply the brain) with an ultrasound. Third, they looked at blood tests for IgG, or delayed food allergies.

What they found was startling.

The overweight kids had a 3-fold higher level of CRP and a 2.5-fold higher level of IgG antibodies to foods. This is astounding, since in most medical studies a difference of 20 to 30 percent is considered significant. And in this case, the differences were 300 and 250 percent, respectively.

The overweight children also had much thicker carotid arteries, which are a sign of early atherosclerosis and an indicator of heart disease.

The study suggests that these food allergies are a CAUSE of the inflammation and obesity, not a consequence.

The authors of the study explain that damage to the gut can lead to a leaky gut, allowing food particles to be exposed to the gut’s immune system. This then triggers a system-wide immune response, leading to inflammation all over the body and producing obesity by increasing insulin resistance.

We already know that inflammation from any cause — bacteria, food, a high-sugar, high-fat diet — will produce insulin resistance, leading to higher insulin levels. And since insulin is a fat storage hormone, you store more fat — mostly around the belly.

The authors of the study go on to say that we should consider elimination of IgG food allergens as a way of treating obesity and preventing heart disease. That means you don’t limit calories, just allergic foods that cause inflammation.

Let me review this briefly again, because these concepts are so far from what we normally think about the causes of obesity.

When you eat a typical American diet, you foster the growth of bad bugs in the gut. They then damage the gut lining and produce toxins that are absorbed into your system.

Because of the damage, partially digested food particles also leak into your bloodstream. Then your immune system reacts to the toxins and foods, producing a firestorm of inflammation.

That inflammation then leads to a fatty toxic liver and insulin resistance, which lead to higher levels of insulin in your body. And insulin is a fat-storage, disease- and aging-promoting hormone.

So an unhealthy gut makes us fat and sick because it makes us toxic and inflamed.

Now here are a few simple things to try if you are struggling to lose weight or feel better.

3 Steps to Eliminate Food Allergens and Rebalance Your Gut Ecology

1. Try an elimination diet for 3 weeks. Cut out the most common food allergens, including gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, yeast, and peanuts. Some people are sensitive to soy, so you can also cut that out.

2. Eat a whole-foods, plant-based, high-fiber diet. This is essential to feed the good bugs in your gut and to provide the nutrients you need to functional optimally.

3. Take probiotics daily to boost the healthy bacteria in your gut. Look for those that contain 10 billion CFU of bifidobacteria species and lactobacillus species. Choose from reputable brands.

Within a very few short weeks — even if you do nothing else — you will see a dramatic difference that comes from cooling off inflammation by healing your gut.

Remember, if you want to get rid of that gut, you have to fix your gut.

Excerpted from an article by Mark Hyman, M.D.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Have you noticed that inflammation is affecting your weight?

What steps do you plan to take to reduce inflammation?

How has reducing inflammation affected your weight?

Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Robin on April 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Hello, I came across your blog while searching online for ways to break a plateau.
    About 5 months ago I was trying to get motivated to lose weight. Since being on a low carb diet had always gotten me quick results I thought I would do that for a couple of weeks just to get started and then I would go back to a regular 1200 cal diet. Before the two weeks were over I discovered I no longer had heartburn, acid reflux, IBS, joint pain or felt bloated. My energy levels soared. I’ve continued to remain gluten and dairy free and have lost 42 lbs. I am convinced that I have a gluten intolerance possibly even Celiac Disease. Fortunately this is a way of eating that I feel I can continue for the rest of my life.


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