Four Things You Need To Know About Your Gut Biome
A healthy gut biome means a healthy you.
Your gut microbiome is as important as your face or brain. Its influence is wide ranging, impacting everything from your immune system and your mental health to your heart and digestion. For this reason, it's important to have a healthy gut, as if you've got a little nuclear reactor in there. One wrong move and, ka-boom!, diarrhea (or worse). But if you have the right diet and lifestyle then your gut biome will serve you for years.
There’s so much bacteria in the gut!
“More bacteria than human.” No, that’s not a Weird Al parody of White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human”. It’s actually one of the reasons Healthline uses to show why the gut microbiome is crucial for your health. There’s more bacteria inside your gut than human cells (or cells in your body in general!). As Healthline explains, the bacteria is found in a region of the large intestine that's called the "cecum", but people usually just say "biome" because "cecum" sounds like an interest someone would list on their Fetlife profile (Safe Sane Consensual; no kink shame! GGG and DDF!).
In fact, let’s just get all the dirty jokes out of the way now (a perverse overture, if you will): “cecum? I hardly know cum. “Cecum? How about we observe some jizz? Gander at some semen? Peep spunk? Elicit ejaculate? Seize the sperm!” Ta-da! Overture, curtain lights, this is it, we’ll hit the heights, and oh what heights we’ll hit, on with the article this is it!
A sick human gut biome can lead to weight gain.
There's upwards of 1,000 types of bacteria in your cecum, and each one of them does something different (including cause disease!). For the purpose of the ketogenic diet, it’s important to avoid gut dysbiosis, a condition wherein there are more unhealthy than healthy bacteria.
Healthline cites several studies that suggest that an unhealthy gut microbiome contributes to weight gain. Several studies have looked at the biomes of twins who differ in body weight. Scientists discovered that the biomes were different. In one particular study, the biome of an obese twin was placed into a mouse, and that mouse gained weight (it also developed body dysmorphia and would only go swimming with a shirt on). All the mice in this study were eating the same foods, so it's easy to infer that the biome itself was responsible for the weight gain. As always, more research is needed.
There are thing you can do to improve gut health.
Healthline offers 10 ways to improve your gut bacteria, based on science. If you eat many different types of food, you're going end up with a greater range of bacteria in your cecum. Eating fermented foods (yogurt, kimchi, etc), will get you more healthy bacteria. Particularly, you'll get Lactobacilli, which can clamp down on disease-causing bacteria. Eating fiber will stimulate bacterial growth (eating fiber is also what to do if you've got keto constipation or diarrhea). And don’t drink diet soda if you want to keep bad bacteria like Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae at bay (or consume any artificial sweeteners at all).
Healthline also recommends eating polyphenols, plant based compounds that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and oxidative stress (the condition of having too many free-radicals in the blood [free-radicals correlate with diabetes, Alzheimer's, heart disease, etc]). If you already know what alcohol you can drink on keto then you know that red wine is high in polyphenols. And, luckily, a 5 oz serving of red wine is only 3.8 to 3 grams of net carbs per serving (net carbs being the total number of carbs minus the amount of fiber or sugar alcohol per serving).
The jury is still out on probiotics. As Healthline makes clear, some studies say that probiotics can restore an unhealthy gut biome to a positive state while other studies show probiotics have no effect. However, all the other options for keeping your gut biome healthy you shouldn’t even have to lean on probiotics. Additionally, the ketogenic diet removes the processed foods and foods with added sugar that would undermine your biome’s health.
The ketogenic diet may have adverse effects on your gut biome in the long term.
In an article titled "What to Know About High-Fat Diets and Your Microbiome", Healthline reported on that the ketogenic diet may leave your gut biome worse off. In part, this is because a ketogenic diet restricts some of the foods that feed good bacteria. Additionally, one study showed that a high fat diet reduces the number of bacteria that help reduce inflammation while increasing the number of bacteria that are found in people with type 2 diabetes. As is often the case, more research is suggested.
However, the negative side effects of dietary restrictions may be balanced out by the time one becomes fat adapted. After a month of being in ketosis, your fat turns into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP then becomes your body's primary source of energy. This state is known as fat adaption. When you’re fat adapted, you can eat carbs, get knocked out of ketosis, and then return to ketosis after your body burns through all the glucose. Were you not fat adapted, you’d have to wait to return to ketosis for however long it takes you to return to that state. But since there’s no wait period when you’re fat adapted, that means you could eat the foods your biome needs often enough to avoid adverse consequences.
If, however, your concern is severe enough, you can always just keep the guiding principles of keto after you’ve accomplished your weight loss goal. That would mean no processed foods or foods with added sugar. Keto will always be there for you when you need it!