Our gut, or to be more specific, our gut microbiome, is a complex eco-system that plays a significant role in our overall mental and physical wellbeing. Like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, our gut microbiome influences numerous physiological functions. From our immune system to our mental health, the way in which the trillions of microbes work, engage and interact with each other has a huge effect on the body.

Why do our gut bacteria matter?

The masses of bacteria that make up the gut microbiome have an important role to play in physical health and wellbeing. As well as aiding digestion, they can also influence our immune system, mental health, cognition and even athletic performance, as well as the body’s ability to efficiently absorb nutrients.

The key to understanding our gut health is in knowing that some bacteria are more valuable to us than others. To unlock the power of the gut microbiome, we should seek a more favourable balance with more of the ‘good bacteria’ which have additional benefits, and less of the ‘bad bacteria’ that do not.

As the science advances, we are learning more and more about the influence our gut bacteria have on other areas of the body. For those looking to support physical health and wellbeing, this marks the gut microbiome as a fantastic focal point for that journey.

How do we define metabolism?

In essence, our metabolism is the process through which our body converts the food and drink we consume into energy. Complex chemical activity converts the carbohydrates, protein and fats from our food and combines it with oxygen to release the energy that our body needs to function.

Even when we are at rest, our bodies are processing these chemicals to provide energy to our autonomic nervous system, allowing u to breathe and digest food without having to think about it.

Just like our gut microbiome, our metabolism doesn’t stay the same over time, it can speed up and slow down throughout our lifetime. A great way to kick start our metabolism is to eat a healthy nutritious breakfast every morning.

The volume of energy needed to conduct metabolic processes can differ from person to person, and the minimum amount of energy our body requires to carry out the simple functions such as breathing, is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). According to NHS [1], our BMR can range anywhere between 40% - 70% of our body's daily energy requirements, depending on our body size, age, gender and genes all playing a role in the speed of our metabolism.

Is there a link between gut bacteria and metabolism – and what does the science say?

Recent studies [2] have shown that there is an interplay between the gut and metabolism. The term metabolism describes numerous chemical processes that happen in our body every second of every day to keep us alive. The metabolism of energy is important for all systems in the body and influences our breathing, organ functionality, cell repair and food digestion. As it becomes clear that the gut microbiome has a broad influence over physiological systems in the body, it should come as no surprise that the two functions may be connected.

Research has suggested multiple associations between our gut microbiota and the chemicals that support our metabolic pathways [3]. Important hormonal regulators for the metabolism have been found to be transmitted from gut hormones that are found in our gut microbiome.

While sadly there is no ‘weight loss’ bacteria, certain types of good bacteria are found to be particularly beneficial to metabolism and have consequently been associated with leaner body weight. The bacterial strain Akkermansia muciniphila for example, produces a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that is known to help regulate appetite and the storage of body fat.

How can we harness a more diverse gut microbiome to support metabolism?

Feeding our gut microbiome and cultivating its composition can have a positive impact on our gut health, which in turn can help us to support the body’s metabolism through simple dietary changes. Here are some more ways in which we can support our gut microbiome:

  • Eating a variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables
  • Opting for wholegrains (such as bulgur wheat, quinoa, brown rice, brown bread)
  • Snacking on a handful of nuts, or adding seeds to our food
  • Keeping hydrated throughout the day
  • Eating oily fish twice a week
  • Choosing lean or plant-based protein sources
  • Eating healthy unsaturated fats such avocados, rapeseed and extra virgin olive oils
  • Adding fermented foods or kefir to our daily diet.

Why not discover more about your gut bacteria today?

Click here to visit our gut microbiome portal and find out more about the essential good gut bacteria that keep our bodies performing at their best.

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