At first, research suggested that one class of bacteria probiotics helped people improve digestion.
Start by eating these foods.
This article was written by Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. and provided by our partners at Men's Health.
Let's be real, if you're trying to lose weight, you've probably done your fair share of Googling weight-loss tricks. And while eating right is definitely on your radar, eating to support the bacteria in your gut might not have made it to the top of your browser.
Your microbiome, or the vast populations of bacteria that live on and in your body, deserve some attention—especially if you're trying to lose weight.
At first, research suggested that one class of bacteria probiotics helped people improve digestion. But eventually, researchers discovered that these little bugs control a lot more than your poop sched.
"These bacteria in our gut are wired into our immune system, our metabolism, and even our brain," says Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.D., a microbiota researcher at Stanford University Medical School. "I think if you have allergies, asthma, weight issues, diabetes, and even depression and anxiety, it could mean that your gut is not in an optimal state," she says.
In the words of Ron Burgundy, your microbiota is “kind of a big deal." Sonnenburg speculates that we are only as healthy as our bacteria.
Fun fact: "If you count up all the collective genome that our microbiota provides and compare that to our human genome, humans are actually 99 percent microbe and only 1 percent human," she says.
To reap those fat-fighting power of bacteria, you need to start eating more fermented foods, like kombucha, kimchi (recipe below), yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut—to introduce more good bacteria into your gut.
Once you've got your probiotic foods on fleek, it's time to start noshing on fiber-packed foods to feed new and existing good bacteria. Fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains are all good picks. Bonus: The more filling fiber in your meal, the fuller you'll feel.
Then, it's time to stop applying hand sanitizer like a germ terminator. Hear us out, new research shows that frequent hand sanitizer application kills good bacteria living on you, increasing your risk of illness. And when you're sick, we highly doubt you'll be ready to tackle your healthy eating goals or any kind of workout.
Finally, limit your antibiotic use to only when absolutely necessary, says Sonnenburg. (In fact, here are 5 Conditions You Shouldn’t Take Antiobiotics For.) "Antibiotics don’t help fight off viral infections, which are the bulk of the infections we deal with," Sonnenburg says. That means you don't need them for the flu.
While it may seem like a lot to take on at once, these simple dietary changes and health practices can improve your microbiome within a few days, beefing up your immune system and getting you closer to your weight loss goals.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to get started, try the following kimchi recipe below.
See some of the craziest things people have actually done to lose weight in the past.
This homemade kimchi recipe comes from my friend’s mom and has been passed down through generations in Korea.
Try the tart, spicy fermented condiment in a quesadilla with sharp cheddar cheese or mixed into scrambled eggs.
What You’ll Need:
1 head Napa cabbage, cut into bite-sized squares, washed and drained
½ cup Kosher salt
¼ cup crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar
How to Make It:
1. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage and salt. Let stand, stirring every now and then, until the cabbage is limp and soft, about 2 hours.
2. Rinse the cabbage well under cold water. Drain it thoroughly in a colander, about 20 minutes. Taste the cabbage. If it’s too salty, rinse and drain it again.
3. In a large bowl, mix the drained cabbage with the crushed red pepper flakes, fish sauce, scallions, onion, garlic, ginger, and sugar. Season to taste with salt, if necessary.
4. Pack the kimchi into a jar and let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 days to ferment. Then store it in the fridge.