GUT BACTERIA AND WEIGHT LOSS

GUT BACTERIA AND WEIGHT LOSS

Gut bacteria plays a vital role in our overall health, often referred to as the “second brain,” the gut is the largest immune organ in the human body. The human gut is quite diverse, a healthy adult contains over 100 trillion microbes, with more than 1000 species of gut bacteria. A healthy microbiota has been linked to reducing the incidence of a variety of chronic diseases. Conversely, poor gut health and bad dietary habits may contribute to imbalances (or dysbiosis) of the microbiota leading to obesity, diabetes, and various types of cancer. Additionally, when examining the gut bacteria of lean to obese individuals, it appears that when obese individuals lose weight their gut bacteria starts to resemble that of lean individuals. While it appears that dietary choices have a significant impact on gut health, it is important to note that other factors such as stress, antibiotic usage, aging, and foodborne illness may impact the balance of a healthy ecosystem. Our gut bacteria has an immense potential to impact our health and prevent disease, thus food can truly be medicine when it comes to colonizing a healthy gut.

Probiotics

Often referred to as “good” bacteria, when consumed these tiny microorganisms populate the gut flora, and provide a variety of health benefits to the host well-being. Emerging research supports the role of probiotics in modulating our immune system. It appears that probiotics can interact with different immune cells in our bodies, leading to a positive immune response. Additionally, probiotics aid in the processing of vital nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin B12, folic acid, and biotin. Other benefits of probiotics include adding in digestion, reducing certain allergy symptoms, and possibly lessening the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Probiotic rich foods include:

Cultured dairy products like yogurt, kefir, and some aged cheese (like gouda or cheddar)
Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi
Fermented soy products like tempeh and miso
Fermented beverages like kombucha (*watch for added sugars)
Dietary supplements (check with your doctor before supplementing)

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are nondigestible components naturally found in certain foods that aid in fermenting undigested fiber, and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut. Like probiotics, prebiotics also confer health benefits on the host, by aiding in digestion as well as enhancing the absorption of calcium and vitamin D.

Food sources of prebiotics:

Bananas
Oats
Garlic
Jerusalem artichokes
Chicory root
Onions
Leeks
Soy beans

Putting It All Together

Consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods together creates “synbiotic” functional food combinations, which may act synergistically to enhance immune response and provide positive health benefits on metabolism. Therefore, consuming bananas with Greek yogurt or sautéing garlic and onions with tempeh will bring both prebiotic and probiotic foods together. The human gut is a complex community of bacteria, and it is evident that proper nutrition can have a profound impact on keeping the ecosystem healthy and in balance.

 

Sources:

  1. Mayer, Nat Rev Neurosci, 2011
  2. Zhang et al., Int J Mol Sci, 2015
  3. Le et al., Nature, 2006
  4. Shreiner et al., Curr Opin Gastroenterol, 2015
  5. Pragnesh et al., Journal of Clinical Gerontology & Geriatrics, 2014
  6. Isolauri et al., American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 2001
  7. Gu & Li, Biosynthesis of Vitamins by Probiotic Bacteria, 2016
  8. He et al., J Appl Microbiol, 2007
  9. Kavita et al., J Food Sci Technol, 2015
3 HIGH FIBER, HIGH PROTEIN, LOW-CARB HEALTHY MEALS

3 HIGH FIBER, HIGH PROTEIN, LOW-CARB HEALTHY MEALS

These deliciously healthy, high protein, high fiber, low carb meals will keep you full and satisfied. Fill half your plate with vegetables, include about 3 to 4 ounces of lean protein, and make a quarter of your plate whole grains. Try to use a smaller dinner plate or bowl to keep your portion sizes in check. Enjoy!

SOUTHWEST VEGGIE DELIGHT

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • ½ cup canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed
  • ¼ cup of pico de gallo
  • ½ sliced bell pepper
  • ¼ cup reduced fat shredded cheddar
  • ¼ of an avocado, sliced
  • squeeze of fresh lime

Directions:

  • Mix rice, black beans, and pico de gallo together.
  • Top with cheese, avocado slices, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

408 calories, 70 g carb,  19 g protein, 9 g fat


 

OPEN-FACED TUNA MELT

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz tuna, packet or canned in water
  • 2 tbsp 2% fat plain greek yogurt (~1 oz)
  • ½ cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 slice reduced-fat provolone cheese
  • 2 thin tomato slices
  • 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread, toasted
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • In a large bowl combine tuna, with with chopped carrots, celery, onion, yogurt, salt and pepper.
  • Spread evenly on toasted bread.
  • Top with 2 slices of tomato and one slice of provolone cheese.
  • Broil in oven for ~2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

361 calories, 29 g carb,  43 g protein, 8 g fat


 

SIMPLE CHICKEN (OR TOFU) STIR FRY

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz of grilled chicken breast or tofu, cubed (~1”)
  • ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup snap peas
  • 1 cup bell peppers, sliced
  • ⅓ cup onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken or tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat or tofu begins to brown.
  • Add veggies and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  • Add soy sauce and continue to stir.
  • Serve over brown rice.

478 calories, 48 g carb, 43 g protein, 13 g fat (with chicken)

427 calories, 50 g carb, 24 g protein, 16 g fat (with tofu)

*All nutrition information obtained from Calorie King.

CAN I EAT FRUTI IF I AM A DIABETIC?

CAN I EAT FRUTI IF I AM A DIABETIC?

Fruit contains some of the highest levels of antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health. So even if you’re a diabetic, the good news is that fruit can be part of a healthy well balanced diet!

It is important to distinguish between “added sugar” and naturally occurring sugar. The sugar in fruit is naturally occurring, and therefore is processed by the body differently than added sugar. Keep in mind that fruit, being a carbohydrate, will cause a rise in blood sugar, but the fiber and naturally occurring sugar in fruit are much slower to digest than the added sugar in say a cookie, cake or candy. The fiber in fruit can help you feel full longer, helping to keep your blood sugar stable. Berries and fruit with skin, are a great choice because they contain some of the highest amounts of fiber.

Look for fruit that is fresh, frozen or canned (without added sugar). Practice portion control when eating fruit, and try to limit dried fruit (which sometimes contains added sugar) to no more than 2 tablespoons per serving. Additionally, eating a piece of fruit is a great way to satisfy a craving for sweets, try ½ cup of fresh berries with Greek yogurt for a healthy snack,  for more snack ideas check out these 5 Healthy Snacks Under 150 Calories.

Nutrition Tip: Paring fruit with a protein (like a hard boiled egg or a small handful of nuts) will help give you a slow steady release of blood sugar.

So what is one serving of fruit?

One serving of fruit is approximately 60 calories, and 15 grams of carbohydrate. Which is equivalent to a small piece of whole fruit, ¾ – to 1 cup of fresh berries or melons, or approximately ½ cup of frozen or canned fruit. For optimal blood sugar control, skip the smoothie or large fruit salad, and try to break up your fruit intake throughout the day, aim to eat one serving of fruit at a time. If you’re counting carbs, fruit can be exchanged for other carbohydrate source such as starchy vegetables, whole grains, or dairy. Aim for more servings of vegetables than fruit per day, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends aiming for 2 cups of fruit and at least 2.5 cups of vegetables per day based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Check out these examples of a serving size of fruit:

  • 1 small apple with skin (~4 oz)
  • ½ of a banana, or 1 extra small banana (~4 oz)   
  • ¾ cup of blueberries
  • ¾ cup of blackberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 ¼ cup whole strawberries
  • 17 small grapes
  • ¾ cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 small orange (~6 ½ ounces)
  • 1 small nectarine (~5 ounces)
  • 1 slice of watermelon or 1 ¼ cups cubed
  • ½ grapefruit (~ 11 oz)
  • ½ of a fresh large pear (~ 4 oz)  
  • 4 whole fresh apricots (~5 ½ oz) or 8 dried halves
  • 13 of a cantaloupe melon (11 oz) or 1 cup cubed

Enjoy a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy well-balanced diet!

5 HEALTHY SNACKS UNDER 150 CALORIES

5 HEALTHY SNACKS UNDER 150 CALORIES

Snacking is a great way to boost metabolism, and keeps you energized throughout the day. Pairing together a healthy carbohydrate (like an apple, orange, or carrots) with a healthy protein (like nuts, cheese, or yogurt) is an effective way to make your snack more energy-balanced.

The carb and protein combo helps balance blood sugar, curbs your appetite, and leaves you feeling full longer. Additionally, healthy snacking can be a great way to get additional servings of fruits and vegetables!

Check out these 5 healthy balanced carb + protein snack combos.

1 cup of sliced strawberries + 12 almonds
   
  136 calories (16g Carb, 4g Protein, 8g Fat)

small apple + 1 tbsp nut butter (all natural, no added sugar or salt)
      147 calories (17g Carb, 4g Protein, 8g Fat)

20 baby carrots + 2 Tbsp hummus
      140 calories (21g Carb, 3g Protein, 6g Fat)

1/2 cup grapes + 25 pistachios
      132 calories (18g Carb, 3.5g Protein, 7g Fat)

blueberries (½ cup) + Greek yogurt (8 ounces, nonfat plain Greek yogurt)
    142 calories (18g Carb, 19g Protein, 0g Fat)

By keeping simple grab-and-go snacks on hand, you can reduce your cravings for sweets and set yourself up for healthy eating success throughout your day. Here is to making healthy snacking easy and nutritious!

*All nutrition information obtained from Calorie King.