Have you ever tried to comprehend the number 100 trillion??? It's so immense that our brains really can't get a grip on it. Here's a visual to help…If you took One trillion dollar bills and laid them end-to-end, they would stretch from the earth to the sun – and back – with a lot of miles to spare. Do that 100 more times and you start to get a vague idea of how much 100 trillion is. Why does this enormous number matter in the least? Well, because your gut is home to approximately 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms!!!! The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, so you could say that we're actually more bacterial than we are human. Yikes!!! Mull that one over for a second. OK…done mulling?? You may be asking yourself what this new nugget of information has to do with your belly fat…and gut health is the answer.
We've only just begun to understand the extent of gut health's role in human health and disease. Among other things, we know it provides protection from infection, promotes normal gastrointestinal function, comprises more than 80% of our immune system and regulates metabolism. The opposite of that, or “wonky” gut flora (as I refer to it) has been linked to a host diseases ranging from food/seasonal allergies and depression to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's, inflammatory bowel disease and type 2 diabetes.
Recent research in the post graduate medical journal and studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic have shown that the health of the gut in general plays a significant role in determining – to some extent – how your body stores the food you eat, how easy (or hard) it is for you to lose weight, and how well your metabolism functions. Viola! There we start to see the connection between that stubborn belly fat and gut health!
Some of the facts supported by research and studies on this connection are as follows:
- Intestinal bacteria drive obesity and metabolic disease because it affects appetite and results in insulin resistance, which results in…..Yep! Belly fat!
- Gut health can increase the rate at which we absorb fatty acids and carbohydrates, and increase the storage of calories as fat. Are you telling me that someone with bad gut flora could eat the same amount of food as someone with a healthy gut, but absorb more calories from it and gain more weight and belly fat??? Um…..YES!
- Bad bugs in the gut can even directly contribute increased inflammation which is the foundational cause for many of today's common health complaints…including belly fat.
OK, OK… But how do I know if MY belly fat and gut health are even an issue?? Well, let's look at a little list of modern lifestyle contributions and see if any apply to you.
- Have taken antibiotics and other medications like birth control and ibuprofen
- Eat refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Eat dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
- Have stress in your life
- Suffer with regular infections
- Have female hormone imbalance