Written by 10:00 am Physical Wellness

In Your Gut

As a scientist, I’m trained to conduct research and experiments. If you have a question, you use scientific methods to find out answers. That’s just what we do.

When you think like that, you’re also open to a different kind of experiment—one that may not make any scientific journal but can have an effect on your life. Those experiments? The ones I do on myself.

Hey, what better lab rat than the one I see in the mirror?

More than a decade ago, when I was much heavier, weighing 250 pounds with a Texas-sized belly, I had to wear loose shirts and hide the horizontal growth that had happened after years of bad eating, low activity, and high stress.

Part of my experimentation took me to the world of probiotics, as I looked into the big bellies and why so many men my age had that bloated puffiness caused by not only what food we ate, but also the effects of that food in our digestive system.

As a scientist, I knew all about the microbiome—the master interface between our bodies and the environment. Containing trillions of microorganisms in our intestinal tract, it has a direct relationship with the foods we eat. It knows whether we eat healthy or unhealthy foods, it knows if we’re in danger of starving, it knows whether we eat foods with pathogens. So yeah, it knows whether we’ve been naughty or nice.

It does that through something called the GBA, which may sound like some new basketball league started by a zany billionaire, but instead is something called the gut-brain axis. This works to help us with energy levels, with cognitive functioning, and more. When we eat processed foods and are sedentary, our microbiome goes a little bonkers—triggering obesity and a lot of other reactions that can throw our hormonal, chemical, and neurological functions out of whack.

So the bottom line is this: if you improve the health of your GBA and microbiome, you’ve improved your chances for better health. One recent study published in the journal, Nutrients, shows that taking probiotics or synbiotics (probiotics plus prebiotic fiber) led to significant weight loss after 12 weeks.

Back when I needed to lose weight, I started testing on myself and found that probiotics had a profound impact on my weight, my overall health, and how I felt after eating. I started eating more fermented food and reduced the amount of Westernized foods I had. And without fail, when I ate more fermented foods (like what they serve in Japan), I didn’t feel bloated and gassy. When I ate steak and potatoes, my belly felt like a hot-air balloon that could pop any second.

The change in eating—and adding probiotics—changed me, changed my gut, changed my waist, and changed my life.

A Better Breakfast

The simplest change I made when it came to improving the health of the bacteria in my microbiome: A probiotic smoothie for breakfast. Every day.

All I use are a few ingredients: unsweetened kefir, fermented fruit juice, fresh fruit, and a high-quality prebiotic fiber supplement. I make it so a serving yields about 8 ounces. It’s very dense—more like a pudding than a beverage. It’s my go-to morning meal, and it’s super easy because I make it a pitcher at time and just store it in my fridge. So my healthy breakfast takes literally two minutes to pour and enjoy before I dash out the door.

The breakfast keeps me full all the way to lunch (which is the biggest meal of my day; I have a very small dinner).

And then I also supplement that with a probiotic at lunch and more if I’m traveling to countries where the risk of exposure to pathogens could be greater to help the good bacteria crowd out the bad kinds.

What’s the Best Probiotic?

The microbiome likely wasn’t something you learned about in school alongside all of the other organs, like the heart, liver, small intestine, and so on.

But it really is basically an organ in itself—a biological universe that has a profound impact on your health. The more we learn about it, the more we realize that we can subtly change our health through the health or our microbiome. And it’s truly amazing: The gut, for example, knows immediately what you’ve consumed, gathers info on it, and sends that intel right to your brain (it’s like a nutritional confidential informant!). And that info affects mood, feelings of satiety, and direction about how your body should use energy.

Changing your diet is one way to change your microbiome’s health. Adding probiotics to improve the health of your gut is another way to gently manipulate the microbiome over time.

There are many kinds of probiotics, so you will likely have to experiment to see what’s right for you, though research does show that strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium tend to have the best results. And please realize it does take time—you won’t take one dose and notice a world of change overnight. Give it some time and see how you feel (it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to feel an effect).

What Do You Want to Learn About?

Have ideas for future episodes and what you’d like to learn about? Email me at DrRobSinnott@AtthePeakofHealth.com