Is Your Weight Gain Caused by a Calorie Imbalance or Gut Breakdown?

I see clients every day who have struggled for years to achieve a healthy weight. They have tried every diet on the market with at best minimal results. And so often they also live with chronic digestive issues. Their stories almost always include some or all of the following: a history of the Standard American Diet, regular antibiotic usage as a child or into adulthood, a period of time on the birth control pill, over-the-counter or prescription medications for reflux, constipation or diarrhea.

dietWhat do the statistics tell us? (data from the National Institutes of Health)

230 million Americans are overweight or obese.
63 million suffer from chronic constipation.
61 million experience chronic heartburn.
2 million live with inflammatory bowel disease.
15 million (some estimates say anywhere from 25-45 million) suffer with irritable bowel syndrome.
What does this prevalence of digestive issues have to do with the epidemic of overweight and obesity?

Research supports the idea that a breakdown in the gut may be a cause for an increase in weight. One animal study published in Science Translational Medicine found that changes in gut bacteria impacted weight loss. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism looked at a specific gut microbe and the impact that had on an individuals being overweight or lean. It is not fully understood, but one hypothesis is that the imbalance in gut bacteria may lead to inflammation and potentially impact the body's usage of insulin.

Weight gain may not be as clear a sign of gut breakdown, but the chronic digestive disorders impacting millions and millions of Americans certainly tells us there is a problem in the gut.

Why the gut breakdown in the first place

Antibiotics do a good job of destroying bacteria, but unfortunately will destroy good bacteria that you need for a healthy gut.
The birth control pill is used in many cases for hormonal regulation to minimize symptoms. Estrogen is recognized as a factor in impaired gut barrier function and increased inflammation.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can inflame the intestinal lining causing weakening in the spaces between cells of the intestine.
The Standard American Diet consists of pro-inflammatory compounds and lacks antioxidants and many other nutrients the prevent and control inflammation. Excess sugar and inflammatory fats are two specific components of the diet that create increased inflammation in the gut.
Are you on fire?

A tremendous amount of time and energy is spent focusing on calorie control, grams of carbs, protein or fat while disregarding other symptoms. These chronic digestive symptoms may lead to an understanding of inflammatory processes that may be impacting weight gain as well. This inflammatory process is like a fire burning inside you - leading to symptoms which may include weight gain. If you answer yes to any of the questions below you may have chronic inflammation.

Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease?
Do you struggle to achieve a healthy weight?
Do you have ongoing muscle and joint aches and pains?
Do you feel fatigued, where you have to take a nap after work?
Do you regularly have constipationFree Reprint Articles, diarrhea or both that is interfering with your life?
Do you experience brain fog where it seems more difficult to solve problems or easily complete simple tasks?
Do you have asthma or allergies?

Lynda Enright

Lynda Enright, MS, RD, CLT is certified as a Wellness Coach and LEAP Therapist who partners with women who want to look and feel amazing by helping them lose weight and reduce inflammation which can cause fatigue, bloating, acid reflux, congestion, brain fog or achy joints.

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