The bacteria in our gut help us stay slim! Latest research published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that obese people have different gut flora to lean people.
Another study (Duca, 2012) shows that bacteria in our gut influence our appetite hormone, ghrelin which drives us to eat more. This demonstrates that with the wrong bacteria, people are more likely to overeat the wrong foods.
Other studies (Jumpertz, 2011) have shown that obese gut bacteria extract more energy from food such as carbs and fats for storage. What they also noted was that the bad bacteria increased in a relatively short period of time (days not weeks), when switching to high fat, high sugar diet. This may explain why after an absence of chocolate for a couple of weeks, you crave it all the time once you begin eating it again.
How do I know if I don’t have enough of the right bacteria? A good indication is your digestion. Do you struggle digesting grains or raw vegetables and salads? Do you produce a lot of gas? Are your stools normal and regular or are you prone to constipation / diarrhoea? If you answer yes to these, then you may benefit from a good probiotic. Choosing the right one is important as they need to have high levels of lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bacteria (in excess of 10 million is good) and they need to be protected so that they survive the digestive process get to the right parts of intestines. A nutritionist can point you in the right direction.
These studies indicate that it is not just calories that affect our weight but gut bacteria too.