The Body Ecology Diet (BED) Column
......with Donna Gates
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Monday, September 24th, 2012:
The Reality of Losing Weight: Calories to Avoid and Food to Focus On
As the size of our nation’s average waistline continues to increase, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to do something about it. Beginning with the size of sugar-sweetened beverages that are available on the streets of NYC.
During the last week of May, Mayor Bloomberg announced a proposal that would ban the sale of sugary beverages exceeding 16 ounces in size.
Just this past week, New York City's Board of Health passed the proposal. The ban, effective in March 2013, will impact restaurants, concession stands, and other eating establishments that answer to NYC’s Board of Health.
Although 16 ounces is enough to quench anyone’s thirst, restaurant owners and those in the beverage industry openly oppose the ban. Many people affected by the ban believe that New Yorkers should have the right to choose the size of their drink.
While not everyone is celebrating along with Mayor Bloomberg, his new regulation addresses two factors that rarely get attention from the media:
- Sugar has a devastating effect on our health, not just our waistlines.
- The food industry can and does design food to dominate our palate.
Soda Contributes to Weight Gain
Scientifically, Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal makes sense. Over the years, several studies have shown an association between sugary drinks and obesity.
In fact, to make sifting through the data a little easier, in 2006 the Harvard School of Public Health put together a review of the literature. (1)
Pulling from nearly 40 years of research, Harvard looked at only the most rigorous of studies. What they found should come as no surprise: Sugar-sweetened beverages do contribute to weight gain and obesity.
While researchers determined that more investigation is necessary, they also concluded that, “Sufficient evidence exists for public health strategies to discourage consumption of sugary drinks as part of a healthy lifestyle.”
It seems like Mayor Bloomberg is practicing good public health. And although the beverage industry may take a temporary hit, we may end up a little healthier (and possibly slimmer) for it.
Empty Calories Don’t Matter, Good Bacteria Do
Are “empty calories” the only thing that is driving the obesity epidemic?
It’s true that food without nutrients is of little value to anyone. But if we step outside the calorie craze, we see that there is more going on besides a mouthful of empty calories.
Once we begin looking at microbiology and the human digestive tract, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to the gut than the digestion of food.
For example, did you know that each of us houses trillions of microbes, many of which are found in the gastrointestinal tract?
Because we have evolved with these microorganisms, most of the time we share a mutually beneficial relationship. In fact, much of our health depends on the inner ecology of the digestive tract. These microscopic bugs influence all corners of the human body. Their influence can be seen in:
- The immune system and its ability to regulate inflammation (2)(3)
- The digestive system (4)
- The nervous system, affecting our mood and behavior (5)(6)
Studies have even found that a specific community of gut bacteria is all it takes to either stay lean or to become obese. (7)(8)
Soda Can Change the Metabolism of Gut Bacteria
As it turns out, there is also research on how soda affects our intestinal bacteria.
According to an article published this year in Obesity Review, the massive amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in soda are enough to change how gut bacteria metabolize the food that we eat. (9)
So far, researchers are exploring exactly how this happens. It may be due to a change in gene expression. Or, it may be because excessive sugars reduce the number of bacterial species in the gut.
When it comes to a balanced inner ecosystem that nourishes our health and keeps us slim, diversity matters. (10)(11)
Sugar or HFCS that is found in soda and other sweetened beverages tells our gut bacteria to harvest more energy - which ultimately can contribute to how much weight we carry. The metabolism of the microbes in our gut is as important as our own metabolism.
In other words, while bacteria have their own metabolism, different bugs have different metabolism; you may be obese or slim, depending on which bacteria you harbor.
It’s not the calories that matter. Instead, what matters most is:
- The types of bacteria that live the gastrointestinal tract.
- The messages you give to your inner ecology with the food you choose to eat.
Heal Your Inner Ecology with Fermented Foods
Luckily, we can influence our gut bacteria with the food we eat.
One of the best ways to do this is to inoculate the gastrointestinal tract with the healthy bacteria found in fermented foods.
Bacteria are fantastic learners. They pick up and exchange genetic information very quickly. (12)
When we eat fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages like InnergyBiotic, we reeducate our bacterial residents and increase microbial diversity, creating a healthier inner ecosystem. This keeps our inner ecology up-to-date, allowing it - and us - to thrive.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Mayor Bloomberg of New York City is leading the nation in the fight against obesity by banning the sale of sugary drinks that exceed 16 ounces in size. The reason? Sugar can harm our health, beyond just weight gain. In fact, research has linked sugary drinks to obesity for years. Researchers recommend that sugary drinks should not be part of a healthy lifestyle.
But on the quest to lose weight, cutting out empty calories may not be the only solution. As we look further at the human digestive tract, it becomes clear that the type of bacteria in the gut can determine if an individual stays lean or becomes obese.
Even worse, drinking soda can affect the delicate inner ecology of the intestines; large amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup can change how gut bacteria metabolize food. Once again, this will determine an individual's ability to stay slim or their likelihood to become obese.
To heal your inner ecology from the inside out, it's important to eat fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages like InnergyBiotic each day. Fermented foods and drinks will reeducate your inner ecology and promote microbial diversity to help you maintain a healthy weight!
1. VS Malik, et al. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2006; 84 (2): 274-88.
2. LV Hooper, et al. Interactions Between the Microbiota and the Immune System. Science. 8 June 2012; 336 (6086): 1268-1273.
3. HR Cha, et al. Downregulation of Th17 cells in the small intestine by disruption of gut flora in the absence of retinoic acid. J Immunol. 2010 Jun 15;184(12):6799-806. Epub 2010 May 19.
4. J Hehemann, et al. Transfer of carbohydrate-active enzymes from marine bacteria to Japanese gut microbiota. Nature. 2010; 464 (7290): 908-912.
5. JA Bravo, et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16050-5. Epub 2011 Aug 29.
6. E Barrett, et al. Gama-Aminobutyric acid production by culturable bacteria from the human intestine. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2012.
7. RE Ley, et al. Microbial ecology: Human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature. 2006; 444 (7122): 1022-1023.
8. PJ Turnbaugh, et al. An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature. 2006; 444 (7122): 1027-131.
9. Payne, et al. Gut microbial adaptation to dietary consumption of fructose, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Obesity Reviews. 2012.
10. I Cho, et al. The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease. Nat Rev Genet. 2012 Mar 13;13(4):260-70
11. Bisgaard, Hans, et al. Reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiota during infancy is associated with increased risk of allergic disease at school age. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2011; 128 (3): 646.
12. BL Bassler. How bacteria talk to each other: Regulation of gene expression by quorum sensing. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 1999; 2 (6): 582-587.
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