Our intestinal bacteria perform numerous tasks, including food digestion. The intestinal bacteria can be divided into two major groups: The Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. In a healthy intestinal flora, these two groups balance each other out in an optimal ratio of 1:1, which means that there are approximately the same number of bacteria from both groups in the intestines.
However, this intestinal balance is often disturbed in overweight people, with the Firmicutes gaining the upper hand and shifting the ratio 2.000:1 in their favour. In other words, the intestines contain 2.000 times more Firmicutes than Bacteroidetes!
Firmicutes have the special ability to break down foods that humans usually can’t digest (i.e., so-called dietary fibres and complex carbohydrates). This leads to an excess of easily digestible carbohydrates (much more than in an intestine with the optimal bacteria ratio), which means that we also then absorb more calories. This “hidden” intake can easily add up to 200 calories more every day!
Furthermore, this bacterial shift towards the Firmicutes can take on a life of its own: The more carbohydrates (e.g. sugar, pasta, etc.) we eat, the more comfortable the Firmicutes feel, and the better they can multiply in the intestines – a vicious circle has begun!