How Your Gut Microbiome Affects Your Metabolic Health

8 min read

Key Takeaways
  • Balancing our gut microbiome can significantly enhance metabolic functions.
  • Integrating proper nutrition and exercise is vital for overall metabolic health.
  • Holistic lifestyle modifications can improve various aspects of personal health.

We’ve all heard of good bacteria.

The tiny little microorganisms that live in your gut and help you break down food and supply essential nutrients, make vitamin K, help in the digestion of cellulose, and promote angiogenesis (make blood vessels) and enteric nerve function.

So, a lot of good things.

Your body’s metabolism is also regulated by the good bacteria and microorganisms in your digestive tract — called the gut microbiome.

This relationship between metabolism and gut microbiome means that a typical low-fiber, high-sugar Western diet can destroy your metabolic health in several ways, including reduced immune function and excess inflammation.

But there’s evidence that we can control our metabolic health with diet and synbiotics - which includes prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.

Why Gut Bacteria Matters

There are trillions of microorganisms on and inside our bodies.

In fact, we have evolved together with them. Which is why we depend on these bacteria for many functions in our bodies. And unlike infectious germs, these bacteria are good for us.

There’s research showing that our gut microbiome is crucial for development and normal function. Germ-free mice (mice raised without any microbes in the lab) show reduced metabolic and immune functions. In fact, some bacteria in our gut was there with us in our mother’s womb.

Things like medications (especially antibiotics), geography, and diet influence the bacteria in your gut microbiome. Studies show that even short-term changes in diet can rapidly change the microbial makeup.

So, how do we maintain a healthy gut microbiome?

There’s research to show that fecal matter transplants, probiotics (live microorganisms that perform specific functions), and prebiotics (substances, mostly fiber-derived complex carbs, that feed the bacteria that confer a health benefit) can help.

Which means you have a lot of control over your gut microbiome and improving gut health.

Influence of Gut Microbiota on Metabolic Wellness

Hormonal Regulation from Intestinal Microbes

Intestinal microbiota possess crucial roles in managing energy balance and nutrient absorption through interaction with metabolic hormones.

In our gut, specific hormones that sense ingested food facilitate nutrient absorption and utilization. Microbial metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids produced through the fermentation of fibers by intestinal bacteria, can enhance the release of incretins like GLP-1. This peptide hormone lowers blood sugar levels through insulin release promotion, hunger reduction, and augmentation of insulin action on bodily tissues.

Microbial compounds directly amplify GLP-1 secretion from gut’s enteroendocrine cells. Moreover, dietary fibers that promote the proliferation of beneficial bacteria can elevate GLP-1 and advance glucose metabolism. Conversely, certain microbes could disrupt GLP-1 signaling, highlighting the intricate interplay between gut bacteria and metabolic hormones.

Intestinal Barrier Fortification

A robust intestinal lining is our frontline defense against harmful substances entering our bloodstream. The gut barrier consists of a layer of epithelial cells coated in mucus, which together with gut flora, fend off pathogens. Disruption to this protective lining is linked to metabolic endotoxemia, often seen in metabolic illnesses.

Evidence from research indicates that gut flora orchestrate various defensive components of the gut barrier. Goblet cells fabricate the mucus layer that shields epithelial cells. In the absence of a diverse microbiome, as noted in germ-free studies, mucus layers thin and antimicrobial substances dwindle. However, fibers and probiotics can reinforce the mucus barrier and encourage a flourishing microbial balance.

The gut’s epithelial barrier relies on tight junction proteins to regulate nutrient flow and keep out unwanted invaders. Probiotic and fiber intake has been shown to stabilize these vital proteins, as well as decrease blood levels of LPS, a marker for a compromised gut lining. These measures can effectively mitigate inflammation common in obesity and diabetes.

Immune Environment in the Gut

Our gut microbiome also molds an immune system capable of tackling infections with minimal self-damage. Achieving immune homeostasis is essential, as imbalances can lead to chronic inflammation and associated metabolic disorders.

The gut houses the largest collection of immune cells in our body, and commensal microorganisms significantly influence immune responses. Beneficial bacteria aid in the maturation of immune cells tasked with eliminating pathogens and contribute to the expansion of regulatory T cells that control inflammatory reactions.

Predominantly, short-chain fatty acids and retinoic acids from vitamin A impact the formation of immune cells that curtail inflammation. Nutritional adjustments favoring a diverse range of microbiotas rich in short-chain-fatty acid (SFA) producing bacteria have demonstrated effectiveness in dampening inflammatory responses, offering avenues for microbiome-based interventions to bolster metabolic health.

By fostering a balance in our gut microbiome through lifestyle and dietary strategies, we can support and potentially improve our metabolic health.

Essentials nutrition SHAKES

The ultimate all-in-one nutritional solution for vegans and plant-based eaters.


Enhancing Metabolic Well-being via Microbial Diversity Enhancement

Improving Diet to Benefit Gut Bacteria

A diet high in fiber and rich in natural foods can have a significant impact on the diversity of our gut microbiome.

Foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are excellent for nurturing beneficial bacteria that play a role in hormone regulation and inflammation reduction. Moreover, consuming foods high in polyphenols, like berries and green tea, can further promote the growth of favorable bacterial groups.

Foods to IncludeBenefits
Beans and LegumesSupports growth of beneficial bacteria
Fresh VegetablesPromotes metabolic hormone regulation
Nuts and SeedsHelps reduce inflammation
Fruits and Whole GrainsIncreases satiety, aids in blood sugar control
Green Tea and BerriesRich in polyphenols that modulate gut bacteria

In fact Mr Michi Kushi, a world renowned proponent of the Macrobiotic Diet, has a list of 50 types of plants including grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, and herbs that he recommends for optimal health. But eating all these 50 vegetables in a day isn't possible. Even if you could get half of these, you'd get most of the benefits.

Which is why I've included 25 whole food ingredients with a berry blend and organic greens blend in the Essentials Shake — to make sure your gut gets all the prebiotics it deserves.

Augmenting Gut Flora with Prebiotics

Our gastrointestinal tract thrives on a balanced diet, but sometimes we need an extra boost in the form of prebiotic supplements. These supplements contain particular types of fibers that feed specific bacterial communities, which are beneficial to our health. An example of such fibers include baobab, inulin, green banana, and acacia which are food-based fiber sources that naturally support the growth of favorable microbes. Inulin is often found in foods like chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes, as well as in supplement form.

Key Prebiotic Sources:
     • Baobab, Green Banana, Acacia
     • Inulin (from chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes)
     • Prebiotic supplements

Supplementing with Probiotics for Microbial Restoration

For those whose gut microbiome has been depleted due to dietary choices, simply incorporating fiber may not suffice. In these cases, the administration of specifically formulated probiotics can assist in the recuperation of the gut ecosystem. These probiotics are composed to address particular health advantages, such as promoting mucin production and increasing the production of butyrate upon fiber consumption.

It is vital to select probiotics tailored to the unique requirements of our own gut microbiome. Identifying which strains of bacteria our body needs can drastically enhance the effectiveness of probiotic supplementation. With ongoing research, personalized products are anticipated to enhance individual microbial health.

Considerations for Probiotic Supplementation:

     • Fermented & Cultured Foods (Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Kefir)
     • Targeted, medically-formulated probiotics
     • Knowledge of individual microbiome needs
     • Live & Active Cultures (most supplements are dead on arrival)

It's important to embrace the uniqueness of our gut environment and nourish it accordingly with the right dietary choices and supplementary interventions. Tailoring our approach can lead to substantial improvements in our metabolic health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The LYFE Fuel blog is for informational purposes only. The information does not serve as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. We kindly ask you not to ignore professional medical advice because of any information you’ve read on If you have any concerns about your health, please consult a physician or appropriate health care expert.