Pills That Make PromisesJan 31, 2024
It began with a certain celebrity, whose sleek silhouette stunned red carpet watchers. Soon, the secret to her shocking weight loss reached the masses, and sent millions of weight loss hopefuls straight to their doctors to secure a prescription for the drug that promises results. Today, that drug is slated to become the most profitable pharmaceutical ever created.
Ozempic is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs called ‘GLP-1 receptor agonists’. It is most commonly used to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic works by mimicking the effects of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which helps regulate blood sugar levels, signals to the brain when a person is full, and can also help to control cravings. Pretty impressive hormone, right?
Ironically, as it turns out your body produces natural versions of these drugs – also known as incretin hormones– in your gut. Yep. The secretion of GLP-1 is orchestrated by the trillions of microbes in your gut.
A healthy gut microbiome is an absolutely amazing factory that takes the healthy, fiber rich foods that you eat—the elements of plants that are removed in many processed foods—and transforms them into amazing byproducts like short chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, and hormones…like GLP-1, which is the natural version of what Wegovy and Ozempic have created in a lab.
Did you catch that? Inside of a well-functioning gut microbiome lies a built-in system for achieving and maintaining a red-carpet-ready body! So, then….if this is true, why isn’t everyone effortlessly lean?
In the words of microbiologist, Kiran Krishnan, here’s why:
“Our ancestors got daily exposure to microorganisms. They ate off the land, they got dirty, they drank from rivers and streams. One of the biggest things we’ve been doing wrong is that we’ve divorced ourselves from microbes. We live in concrete jungles and sterile environments. We don’t get microbes in our food anymore. Our ability to adapt to life and become resilient is due to the microorganisms in the large bowel (colon). Our species is being de-generated.”
In truth, we are devolving as a species. We’ve stepped so far away from the fundamentals of human health and wellness that future generations are slated to have shorter lifespans, filled with more chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, dementia, and cancer. This modern world is an enemy to the trillions of beneficial microbes that we need in our bodies to thrive. We’ve broken up with bacteria. We’ve mismanaged our microbiomes.
Here’s a short list of common habits and exposures that destroy the balance of the microbiome:
- Antibiotic use
- Chronic stress
- A poor diet, high in processed, inflammatory foods
- Low exposure to dirt and nature
- Glyphosate and other weed killers
- Other environmental toxins
- Chemical-laden household and beauty products
- Inadequate sleep
- Sedentary lifestyle
A single round of antibiotics; a few night of bad sleep; a weekend of poor food choices can alter the balance of the human microbiome….so imagine the impact created by years of these habits. But yes, you can restart your gut’s built-in appetite/metabolism control by reintroducing whole, fiber rich foods and awakening the power of the gut microbiome.
Studies have established that people with obesity have reduced gut microbial diversity. There is a decrease in certain beneficial and keystone strains of bacteria like Akkermansia muciniphila. Akkermansia positively impacts fat metabolism, helps to create satiety hormones, impacts blood sugar control, and reduces inflammation. Conversely, the stool tests of leaner people show higher amounts of Akkermansia, which underscores how profound the bacterial composition in the gut is to a healthy weight and robust metabolism.
So, how does one go about awakening the power of the gut microbiome?
The one-on-one work I do with my clients includes:
- a comprehensive stool assessment
- a tailored nutritional and supplemental protocol based on the findings from that stool assessment
- strategies to manage stress and increase sleep quality
- a gut-friendly exercise regime that promotes lean muscle growth and lowers cortisol levels
- guidance for creating a gut-supportive home environment, free of exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins.
There’s just no getting around it: studies prove that these types of lifestyle and nutritional modifications favorably shift the bacterial composition in the gut, promoting a robust metabolism and leaner body composition.
That being said, do drugs like Ozempic and Wagovy work?
Yes, for many people, they work while the drug is being taken, but the weight loss benefits come with quite a few strings:
- Studies are reporting that 65% of weight lost is regained when people stop taking the these drugs.
- Studies show that 2/3 of people regain weight after stopping these drugs.
- Many individuals have reported a potential connection between Ozempic, and the development or worsening of SIBO symptoms. It is believed that Ozempic may slow down the movement of food through the digestive system, leading to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
- Ozempic also affects the balance of the gut microbiome, which could contribute to the development or worsening of SIBO symptoms. An imbalance of gut bacteria also leads to “leaky gut” and drives chronic inflammation throughout the entire body.
- These drugs have noted side effects including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, further disrupting the gut microbiome, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
- Other more severe, but rare, side effects include pancreatitis and irreversible gastroparesis, or inflammation of the pancreas and stomach paralysis.
- These drugs can also lead to a loss of healthy lean muscle mass. 40% of the weight loss with these drugs reportedly comes from muscle. Muscle is a major key to a healthy metabolism and is the catalyst for the body’s ability to burn body fat.
- Significant weight gain after stopping the drugs raises further questions about long term effects and whether it’s possible to transition back to using only lifestyle measures to manage weight.
- And we can’t forget the side effect of the newly coined phrase, “Ozempic body,” referring to the sagging skin and deflated buttocks after the drug-induced rapid weight loss.
In truth, when diet and exercise efforts fail, there’s something more going on. The answer is not found in a pill; rather, the answer is found at the body’s foundational level.
Despite our desire for quick fixes, “old school” strategies to create a healthy and resilient gut microbiome remain the most important way to manage metabolic disease and overall health.
Until next time, I wish you good health!