We are told eat less calories and lose weight but it may be more complicated than that.

Lots of people struggle to lose weight and maintain weight loss and new research may now offer very interesting indications as to why.

The impact of bacteria


Over the last few years there has been growing evidence on how bacteria within in our guts can influence health conditions such cardiovascular health, metabolic syndrome (which includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high cholesterol), irritable bowel syndrome and now obesity.

A recent research conference at St Thomas’ Hospital, London offered evidence that poor variety of bacteria in the gut may increase risk of obesity, whereas increased variety and higher levels of certain bacteria were identified in lean individuals.

It is understood that regulation of body weight by gut bacteria is liked to the influence they have on energy and fat metabolism, in addition poor bacterial balance has also been linked to inflammation which too appears to promote weight gain.

Our complex community of bacteria within the gut is believed to be as individual to us as our finger prints, with many influences from birth onwards promoting its development, these include our mothers bacteria passed on through the natural birth process and breast feeding, use of antibiotics within the first two years of life, frequent antibiotic use throughout childhood, adolescence and, or during adulthood.

In addition to this poor diet, high alcohol intake, stress and some medications such as acid suppressing medications all have the ability to alter our developed ecosystem within.

How can you develop or maintain optimal bacterial balance?

Changing your diet long term can promote more beneficial bacterial, with particular foods and diets appearing to offer greatest benefits.

A study in 2015 indicated that a Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats such as those within oily fish and olive oil, adequate protein and a good intake of fruit, vegetables and fibre, introduced within a long term dietary intervention helped to establish a more varied bacterial balance, thereby promoting improved energy and fat metabolism.

How bacteria help lose weight

Highlighted within the report were foods rich in polyphenols (micronutrients rich in anti-oxidants) fruits, vegetables, olive oil and red wine, red wine and pomegranates in particular were emphasised for their influence in promoting beneficial bacterial species.

So forget the fad diets, low fats and zero carbs! Introduce a gut friendly diet, rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, especially berries a rich source of polyphenols, oily fish and meat in moderation, olives and olive oil and the odd glass of wine!

It isn’t a quick fix but if you look after the guests which reside in your gut they will look after you. If studies are correct your risks of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes will be lower and hopefully they will help you to maintain a healthy weight and feel great too!

Connect here with WatchFit expert Susan Brough



Haro, C. et al (2015) The gut microbial community in metabolic syndrome patients is modified by diet. Available from www.sciencedirect.com

London Microbiome Meeting (2016) St Thomas’ Hospital, London SE1 7EH.

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