Want to lose weight? 5 simple ways to boost your gut health and shed pounds without exercising… – The US Sun

COMFORT food and poor weather keeping us indoors mean the scales can loom large in January.
Our Sun Health readers’ poll found 48 per cent of you plan to lose weight this year, with 37 per cent saying they are overweight and 12 per cent obese.
Being a healthy weight – which only a quarter of readers said they are – lowers the risk of heart disease, bowel and breast cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
But getting there can feel impossible.
That’s where Professor Tim Spector, author of Spoon Fed, can help.
Tim is the mastermind and co-founder of ZOE, a new programme that analyses your gut health to create personalised nutrition tips.
As part of our new Health Kick series, he reveals how calorie counting and fad diets are out.
Instead, your gut could unlock the perfect diet for you – one that boosts energy, reduces hunger and leaves you lighter as a result.
Tim’s new book Food For Life is designed to help you do just that by making daily food decisions simpler and healthier.
Here he explains . . . 
IT really depends on having a healthy population of gut microbes.
Trillions of them live in our intestine and manage everything from how often we go to the loo to making important vitamins, chemicals and brain- signalling messengers like sero-tonin, also known as our “happy hormone”.
Our gut microbes all feed off different types of fibres and plant chemicals called polyphenols to then produce chem-icals that help keep us healthy.
Think of it as our very own personalised internal pharmacy.
An unhealthy gut with too many unhelpful gut microbes can result in unpleasant symptoms including constipation, bloating, depression, issues with sleep, increased hunger and more weight gain, as well as increased menopausal symptoms.
MANY people don’t realise just how much our gut microbes do for us.
At ZOE, we have discovered that we all have a unique set of gut microbes that are linked to how likely we are to be overweight or obese, have allergies or get depressed, and how much energy we have in the day.
At the cutting edge of gut health research, studies I worked on have shown that having a healthy gut microbiome improves the outcomes of cancer treatment and increases survival.
This is a very exciting area of research, and we will see more huge discoveries about the importance of gut health and gut microbes in the next decade.
RESEARCH into gut health in the past decade has shown us just how closely linked it is with cancer, diabetes, obesity and mental health.
We now know that having an unhealthy gut microbe population can cause symptoms of depression and this can often be reversed by switching to a healthy diet or probiotics — live bacteria and yeasts that our guts love.
We also know our gut health is closely linked to how well we can process sugar from our food, and having poor gut health can increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Improve your gut health and you will in turn improve the rest of your body.
CRASH diets and drastically changing what foods we eat don’t work, and counting calories doesn’t work after the first few weeks for reducing weight or health long-term.
After that, you’re likely to bounce back to your original weight, or end up heavier, because your body will react to the calorie restriction by making you hungrier and slowing your metabolism.
This is because we don’t eat calories, we eat whole foods, and our bodies need more than just energy.
By only focusing on calories, we run the risk of eating lots of “low-calorie”, ultra-processed foods — like biscuits, ready-meals and white bread.
These are more likely to make us sick, thanks to the hundreds of untested, artificial chemicals added to them to make us eat more, which can lead to weight gain and poor health.
AT ZOE, using personalised nutrition, we help people learn new ways of eating based on their unique biology and their gut microbe population, which is as unique as our fingerprints.
You can learn more about how sleep and exercise impact your food choices and overall health, and why diet and not exercise is the most effective way to reach a healthy weight.
You can find out about our science, and more helpful tips from our scientists, through our newsletter, podcast, blog and a habit tracker — in the free ZOE health study app.
WHAT we eat is closely linked to our gut health and gut microbes.
Unlike our genes, which are fixed at birth, we can influence our gut health with daily choices we make.
It is within our individual power to help feed the gut bugs that keep us healthy, and none of it requires expensive supplements or “superfoods”.
By being aware of our gut health and feeding our gut microbes with the right foods — more real foods, single-ingredient ones that haven’t been processed, like eggs, whole fruit and vegetables, and other plants, like lentils, beans, chickpeas — we can improve our gut health and overall health and enjoy a longer, healthier life.
A diet that is great for our gut microbes, is also great for our blood sugar levels and our heart health.
THERE are some key foods that help all of us.
A few of my simple tips to get you started improving your gut health are on the right . . . 
1. COUNT PLANTS, NOT CALORIES: to Add some new plants to all of your meals and snacks.
Remember that plants include frozen veggies, mixed nuts, dried beans and lentils, mixed spices and delicious whole grains like pearl barley.
Seasonal fruits are always more affordable than exotic berries, so add some apples and pears to your shop as well as plums, and buy your berries frozen to reduce cost and waste.
2. START EVERY MEAL WITH FIBRE: This may be some veggies quickly steamed in the microwave with a bit of water, some raw cucumber and carrot sticks with hummus, a little mixed salad or a handful of nuts.
This will help make sure you are feeding your gut microbes first and will also slow down the absorption of sugar from your food into your blood, stopping spikes.
3. REDUCE PROCESSED FOOD: Cut down on the amount of ultra-processed, artificial food you eat to only some very occasional treats.
Fizzy drinks, biscuits, sugary muffins, children’s breakfast cereals, ready-made frozen meals and flavoured low-fat yoghurts all contribute to worse gut health, more weight gain and increase hunger.
4. OPT FOR FERMENTS: Eat some fermented foods daily — like Swiss cheese, cheddar and Edam, full-fat plain yoghurt, fermented milk (kefir) and ­fermented tea (kombucha).
5. QUIT SNACKING: Avoid snacking and late-night eating, to rest gut microbes overnight.
Ideally, go 12-14 hours without food, but black tea or black coffee is OK.
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