Understanding Microbiota and Weight Management
The title of Kathie Swift's book 'The Swift Diet' could be misleading.
It is not a book about miracle weight loss but focuses on the medicinal power of food to heal our bowel problems, allergies and depression. Weight gain is just one of the side effects to the damage we have done to our immune system by digesting antibiotics and processed foods.
The key to fixing this, says Swift, is to restore and boost the bacteria that lives inside our bodies, mostly in the colon or large intestine. Weight gain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), gluten intolerance, mood swings and depression are some of many ways our body tells us it is not being nourished properly to both function and protect itself from outside threats.
A bad diet, stressful lifestyle, infection and food allergies will bring about a change in the composition of the microbiota or the good bacteria in the gut.
When microbiota is off balance our digestive system will be both stressed (symptoms include inflammation and IBS) and under-equipped to properly break food elements down causing weight gain. So it's double the damage, double the weight gain.
We first acquire the good bacteria or microbiota at childbirth when we pass through the birth canal. Breast milk is the perfect nourishment of microbiota to build an infant's ability to digest solid foods. Those of us who are caesarean babies, fed on bottled milk or had to consume a large amount of antibiotics because of illness are at a disadvantage where it comes to our reservoir of good bacteria. But we can boost our microbiota Swift says.
A diet that increases and diversifies the microbiota is what's needed. It consists of fibre-rich unprocessed foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, controlled amounts of lean protein and fermented foods such as yogurt and pickles.
These foods are broken down to their elements via fermentation – and with the support of already fermented foods. This fermentation process provides the guts with the bacteria it needs to break down fibres, process the digestion and tell the brain that we're full.
Bad foods on the other hand, including processed carbs and fats, do two things. One; they do not include any of the good bacteria needed to digest food and two; the digestive system needs more effort to process them compared to the first group.
This causes an additional strain on our digestive systems and these foods reap very little benefit to fuel us with the elements that keep us going. In her book, Swift takes her readers through a five-step plan of a 'microbiotically aligned diet and lifestyle' which she calls M.E.N.D.S. MENDS is the result of her years of research with doctors and nutritionists, and of her clinical trials with her clients. The five steps of MENDS are:
1) Mind your digestion
Our guts are our second brain. Stress can upset the bacteria in the gut. When this happens, cortisol – our primary stress hormone – goes up. This causes fat to build around our middle section. So de-stress she says.
We also need to give our digestive system a break to not over-ride on processing food, even the good food. If we eat all the time we will not give our digestive system a chance to cleanse itself for the next intake of food. This causes irritation and inflation.
2) Eliminate the problem foods
A bad diet includes processed and refined carbs such as those found in pasta and breakfast cereal, mass-produced and genetically modified cooking oils, red meat, especially processed meat containing hormones and antibiotics as well as foods with irritants to some people such as gluten and lactose. These will disrupt the good bacteria causing inflammation in the gut area and they have a higher intake of calories than the body can burn.
By consuming these foods we are creating a destructive cycle; on the one hand we are reducing the body's ability to digest these foods and on the other we are pumping in more calories than the body can process.
3) Nourish the body, and the belly
Embrace a wide variety of healthy foods that are not only easy to digest but also contain elements that boost the digestive system. Swift recommends what she calls 'wild foods' that have not been too genetically altered and are closest to their plant ancestors.
These include rocket and purple potatoes. Foods rich in prebiotic elements and feed the bacteria in the gut are especially important for the colon. These include rocket, lentils, winter squash and broccoli.
4) Dietary supplements
Swift suggests a list of supplements that are high in live-culture bacteria which boost the existing microbiota in our body. These will boost metabolism and speed weight loss. She also lists a number of supplements high in fibre which suppress the appetite.
The book also suggests a spectrum of digestive enzymes for people who, out of age or illness, cannot properly extract the nutrients in their food properly.
5) Sustaining practices
Finally, sufficient sleep and regular physical activity will reduce stress, improve metabolism and subsequently lead to weight loss. Stress causes cortisol, insulin and blood sugar levels to rise. This in turn will keep the appetite up and disturb the gut bacteria, leading to unwanted food cravings.
You can follow this link to purchase: The Swift Diet: Heal the gut and lose weight fast