Stress, Gut Health & Weight Loss Resistance

functional medicine gut health gut microbiome health coach healthy gut inflammation integrative wellness advisors nj kate motz stress and weight loss unable to lose weight weight loss weight loss resistance why can't i lose weight Oct 08, 2020
woman hands forming a heart on her stomach gut weight loss

If you’re here, chances are you’ve been trying or have tried in the past to lose weight unsuccessfully. Chances are you tried adjusting your diet, exercising at least 3 times a week, and attempted to get more sleep, and yet the weight just wouldn’t budge. If that’s the case, I have news for you – there are other factors that contribute to stubborn weight loss resistance than diet and exercise, with stress and an unhealthy gut being two of the biggest. What does that mean? It means with a few changes, your weight loss struggles could soon be over.

The Basics of Gut Health

The gut is an incredibly complex system filled with millions of bacteria – some “good” and some “bad” – and when the bad outnumber the good, your gut becomes unbalanced, which can have an impact on your body and weight, and can cause numerous health issues.

If you are suffering from a gut imbalance you could be dealing with:

  • Weight loss resistance
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol
  • Inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Digestive disorders
  • Allergies
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Acne and other skin problems

It’s amazing how integral a healthy gut is to our well-being, right?

Stress & Your Gut

Have you ever experienced a “gut-feeling” or butterflies in the stomach? I bet you have, and the reason for that is because the gut is actually an important part of the nervous system, which means our brain can easily affect how our gut functions. That’s why the gut is so sensitive to the presence of stress (both short-term and long-term).

Stress has been shown to cause such changes in your gut as:

  • Gastric secretion
  • How the muscles in the GI tract stretch and contract as food passes through
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Increase of gut permeability (aka leaky gut)
  • Increased pain perception

How exactly does it all work?

A family of peptides (or chain of amino acids) called CRF’s are what coordinates your body’s response to stress. They’re responsible for modulating all of the above and when they’re overwhelmed by stress, it shows in your gut. Plus, exposure to stress can actually cause changes in the composition of the bacteria in your gut which then can lead to an increased susceptibility of bad bacteria. And experimental studies have shown that psychological stress can slow the transit time of the small intestine, encourages overgrowth of bacteria, and even compromises the intestinal barrier.  

Essentially, while stress is bad in general, it is incredibly bad for your gut! 

Gut Health & Weight Loss

Let me introduce you to Laura, age 45. She had been trying unsuccessfully to lose the baby weight after her third child and had tried just about everything – Weight Watchers, the paleo diet, the keto diet. She joined a fitness program and did classes three times a week. All of this resulted in digestive issues and severe bloating that was starting to become painful. She was desperate to figure out what she was doing wrong and that’s when she found me. After taking a closer look, Laura’s struggles pointed to a potential gut imbalance.

While there’s no such thing as skinny bacteria or fat microbes, the bacteria in your gut helps regulate metabolism, nutrient absorption, and weight management (on top of all the other things!). That means a healthy gut is essential. So, what’s the secret to a healthy gut?

The secret is microbe diversity and detoxification. What does that mean exactly?

When your microbe is diverse, you have all sorts of bacteria that are working together and contributing to different roles; and when you have a diverse group of just the right microbes, you’ll see yourself having long-lasting energy with a metabolism running as it should. In short, you’ll feel amazing and have an easier time keeping weight off. The problem is that every day you are unknowingly decreasing this diversity and destroying beneficial microbes.

How are you doing this?

  • Reduced food variety
  • Highly processed foods
  • Too much sugar
  • Too many antibiotics
  • Absorbing too many chemicals
  • Too much stress

And THESE are the ways that you are unintentionally wrecking your gut and, in turn, making it harder to lose weight and keep it off.

You Need More of THESE

Remember when I said before that there’s no such thing as skinny bacteria or fat microbes? That’s true, BUT there are two gut bacteria that are related to having a lean body weight – Akkermansia muciniphila and Christensenella minuta. These two bacteria are helpful for weight loss, linked to preventing weight gain, and are found most often in fit and slim people.

Akkermansia survives on the mucus lining of your gut, increasing its production, which strengthens your intestinal barrier and helps keep your immune system in check. They also produce acetate, which helps regulate appetite and body fat stores. How can you make sure you’re nurturing this bacteria? Studies have shown that the amount of Akkermansia can be enhanced with prebiotic foods. Add some of the following to your diet, to promote the growth of Akkermansia: cranberries, concord grapes, fish oil, flaxseeds, black tea.

Christensenella also influences weight. Several studies have shown that the presence of this bacteria is connected with other good bacteria, helping to create a greater diversity of the gut microbiota. Christensenella has been found to be influenced by age, genetics, and diet – with diet having the largest influence. How can you increase these gut bacteria? A study in Valencia, Spain showed that Christensenella is present in greater number in individuals who consume a Mediterranean diet, which consists of fresh veggies & fruits, healthy fats like olive oil, whole grains, fish & poultry, and limited dairy and red meat.

How to Find Out if Your Gut is Balanced

The simplest way to discover how healthy your gut is with a microbiome test that accurately checks your gut bacteria. Also referred to as “gut flora testing”, this is a relatively new concept that has come a long way in the past couple of years. You can take this test right at home now by purchasing testing kits that detect the presence of various species of microorganisms in a fecal sample. From this, you can get information about the richness and diversity of your gut microbiome.

Learning about the richness and diversity of your gut microbiome will give you the knowledge you need to be able to tackle your gut health as it relates to weight loss resistance. Getting your hands on these personalized results, along with personalized recommendations, will help you learn how to feed your good gut bacteria and starve the bad bacteria, boosting your gut health to new levels.

It’s important to note that these tests should NOT replace the advice of a trusted health professional. These tests are not FDA-approved but are a way to measure the health of your gut and provide you with useful information. However, if you have symptoms that concern you, you should always talk to your provider first!

The Round-Up

As you can see nurturing your gut health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your well-being. If you’re interested in learning even more about gut health, you can get a FREE copy of my new book HERE. If you have questions or are simply ready to tackle the health of your gut with personalized recommendations, book a FREE consultation with me today!