Let's be real, if you're trying to lose weight, you've probably done your fair share of Googling weight-loss tricks. And while eating right is definitely on your radar, eating to support the bacteria in your gut might not have made it to the top of your browser. Your microbiome, or the vast populations of bacteria that live on and in your body, deserve some attention-especially if you're trying to lose weight.
Related: 6 Disgusting Things That Are On Your Body RIGHT NOW!
At first, research suggested that one class of bacteria-probiotics-helped people improve digestion. But eventually, researchers discovered that these little bugs control a lot more than your poop sched.
"These bacteria in our gut are wired into our immune system, our metabolism, and even our brain," says Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.D., a microbiota researcher at Stanford University Medical School. "I think if you have allergies, asthma, weight issues, diabetes , and even depression and anxiety, it could mean that your gut is not in an optimal state," she says.
In the words of Ron Burgundy, your microbiota is kind of a big deal." Sonnenburg speculates that we are only as healthy as our bacteria.
Related: 5 Easy Ways to Boost the Healthy Bacteria In Your Gut
Fun fact: "If you count up all the collective genome that our microbiota provides and compare that to our human genome, humans are actually 99 percent microbe and only 1 percent human," she says.
To reap those fat-fighting power of bacteria, you need to start eating more fermented foods, like kombucha, kimchi (recipe below), yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut-to introduce more good bacteria into your gut.
Once you've got your probiotic foods on fleek, it's time to start noshing on fiber -packed foods to feed new and existing good bacteria. Fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains are all good picks. Bonus: The more filling fiber in your meal, the fuller you'll feel.
Then, it's time to stop applying hand sanitizer like a germ terminator. Hear us out, new research shows that frequent hand sanitizer application kills good bacteria living on you, increasing your risk of illness. And when you're sick, we highly doubt you'll be ready to tackle your healthy eating goals or any kind of workout. (For more ways to get in shape, check out 28-Day Fat Torch! )
Related: 5 New Reasons to Eat More Yogurt
Finally, limit your antibiotic use to only when absolutely necessary, says Sonnenburg. (In fact, here are 5 Conditions You Shouldnt Take Antiobiotics For .) "Antibiotics dont help fight off viral infections, which are the bulk of the infections we deal with," Sonnenburg says. That means you don't need them for the flu.
While it may seem like a lot to take on at once, these simple dietary changes and health practices can improve your microbiome within a few days, beefing up your immune system and getting you closer to your weight loss goals.
If youre looking for some inspiration to get started, try the following kimchi recipe below.
See some of the craziest things people have actually done to lose weight in the past.
Lucia Shins Simple Kimchi Recipe
This homemade kimchi recipe comes from my friends mom and has been passed down through generations in Korea.
Try the tart, spicy fermented condiment in a quesadilla with sharp cheddar cheese or mixed into scrambled eggs.
What Youll Need:
1 head Napa cabbage, cut into bite-sized squares, washed and drained
cup Kosher salt
cup crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar
How to Make It:
1. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage and salt. Let stand, stirring every now and then, until the cabbage is limp and soft, about 2 hours.
2. Rinse the cabbage well under cold water. Drain it thoroughly in a colander, about 20 minutes. Taste the cabbage. If its too salty, rinse and drain it again.
3. In a large bowl, mix the drained cabbage with the crushed red pepper flakes, fish sauce, scallions, onion, garlic, ginger, and sugar. Season to taste with salt, if necessary.
4. Pack the kimchi into a jar and let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 days to ferment. Then store it in the fridge.