How Your Gut Biome Can Affect Your Weight

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
June 14, 2023

gut biome interfering with weight lossYou’ve cleaned-up your diet, cut your calories and ramped up your workouts, but the scale still hasn’t budged. We all know that managing weight can be a difficult, complex process. And experts still don’t have all the answers. But a new weight management variable has caught the attention of researchers over the last several years — gut health.

A growing body of evidence suggests that gut biomes may influence weight control. The connection is still not completely understood but researchers have found: 

  • Gut microbiome may affect production of hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. 
  • An unhealthy microbiome has been linked to inflammatory markers that can lead to weight gain and metabolic disorders.
  • A lack of gut biome diversity seems to be associated with obesity. One reason is that certain bacteria help stimulate brown fat, a type of fat tissue that burns calories at a higher rate.
  • A presence of certain metabolites in the blood stream of people with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes — two diseases associated with obesity — with four intestinal bacteria. They speculate these bacteria may impact metabolism.
  • Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium linked with peptic ulcers, may help control your appetite and ultimately your weight. After a round of antibiotics to kill H. pylori and treat a peptic ulcer, patients had much higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.   
  • Christensenellaceae minuta and Akkermansia muciniphila, two strains of bacteria, may help control weight, as it’s more common in people with lower weight. 

“We think that specific biomes can help or hinder metabolism. A wider array of biomes increases your chances of having helpful ones available,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP.

After eating a meal, your digestive system breaks down the food. But not all nutrients and calories from digested foods are absorbed; many of them are eliminated. Researchers believe that certain biomes help your body absorb calories, store them as fat and cause weight gain; others help block caloric absorption.

Researchers are just scratching the surface of gut biome research, but experts have some suggestions to help you maintain weight-management friendly gut biomes:

  • Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. Variety helps promote diversity. And fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fiber, which helps good bacteria flourish.
  • Try a probiotic supplement. A study published in British Journal of Nutrition found that probiotics helped women lose weight and keep it off.         
  • Add fermented foods to your diet. Foods such as plain yogurt, kefir and buttermilk are good sources of probiotics.

Before making any dietary changes or taking a supplement, talk to your MDVIP-affiliated physician. Looking for a primary care physician? Find an MDVIP affiliate near you and begin your partnership in health »

About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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