What does your geographic location have to do with your weight? When you consider that gut bacteria are adaptable to their environment and that gut bacteria can influence your weight, you may have the perfect storm on your hands if you live in a cold climate.
Obesity Can Start in Your Gut
It's a well-known fact among healthy gut enthusiasts that your gut bacteria can influence your weight and even your risk for disease. Bacteria in your digestive tract can be an early predictor of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The explanation is simple: Research has found that lean people have a different kind of gut bacteria compared to obese people.
Even more interesting is the fact that when mice were inoculated with one type of gut bacteria, their weight changed. Depending on the bacteria in the gut, mice could gain weight or stay at a healthy weight.
2 Reasons It Is Impossible to Lose Weight
Your gut bacteria adapt to your environment. Living in a cold climate could make it harder to lose weight.
According to research, there are two hidden reasons why you may find it hard to maintain a healthy weight:
In 2014, UC Berkeley graduate student Taichi Suzuki and University of Arizona's evolutionary biology professor Michael Worobey published a meta-analysis of six previous studies in the online journal Biology Letters.
When the researchers analyzed gut microbes from more than 1000 people around the world, their results were surprising: Study participants who lived in northern latitudes had higher levels of the bacteria linked to obesity compared to those living in the south.
Suzuki explained why there may be more to the study than meets the eye. "People think obesity is a bad thing, but maybe in the past getting more fat and more energy from the diet might have been important to survival in cold places. Our gut microbes today might be influenced by our ancestors. This suggests that what we call 'healthy microbiota' may differ in different geographic regions."
According to Suzuki, obesity-related gut bacteria may be needed in colder climates to better extract energy from food. This is one prime example of the beauty of gut adaptability—and it can also explain why you're not losing weight yet if you live in a northern climate.
2. Stress Level
If your gut microbiome has adapted to be more cold-sensitive, another major weight loss hurdle could be stress. Gut bacteria that are sensitive to cold can naturally lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone. When cortisol levels dip too low, your body will struggle with fatigue, depression and weight gain.
Some people with a genetic variation in a gene called Tyrosine Hydroxylase experience cold weather, cold water, cold air, and high velocity air movement as stressors.
With this gene, you may have a tendency for elevated stress hormones—adrenaline and nor-adrenaline—that cause anxiety. Low energy and high levels of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline lead to weight gain. To determine if you are genetically vulnerable to weight gain caused by cold stressors, genetic testing with a SmartDNA genomic panel can provide insight.
Research on gut bacteria and the exciting new science of nutritional genomics are showing that for too many of us, cold weather is a stressor. If you live in a cold northern climate, it's important to stay warm and toasty during the winter months and eat warming foods, especially soups, stews, and bone broths, while also eating a probiotic-rich diet. Changing your diet can help your gut bacteria to adapt to keep you lean and happy.
When the warmer weather comes, you'll like how you look and feel!