Foods That Will Help You Gain a Flat Belly

 © Provided by Eat This Not That kimchi
© Provided by Eat This Not That
kimchi

Happening right now, inside your belly, is an epic power struggle worthy of Shakespeare. But instead of Tudors and Plantagents, you have different sorts of microbes battling it out to become monarch of your midsection—about 500 different tribes, in fact.

Some of them break down your food and extract nutrients; others hunt for food pathogens that snuck in on a bad bit of bratwurst; still others help protect you from colds and flus. (In fact, 80 percent of our immune system is based in our guts.) Scientists even believe that depression may be caused in part by unbalanced gut microbes, since 95 percent of our feel-good hormone serotonin is also located in the belly.

But it’s our weight that’s most dramatically affected by these little buggers. In fact, studies show that obese people have higher levels of bad bacteria from the phylum Firmicutes, while lean people have higher levels of bacteria from the phylum Bacteroidetes. But as with any conflict, sometimes the good guys get overwhelmed. Too much junk food (especially sugar) can knock our digestive systems out of whack and give the advantage over to the Firmicutes (a poorly named tribe, as they make you neither firm nor cute); so too can drugs like antibiotics, heartburn remedies, or antidepressants.

In my research for Zero Belly Diet and the forthcoming Zero Belly Cookbook, I’ve discovered six foods that are critical to helping you strike the perfect balance—and flatten your belly fast.

1. Kimchi

Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea, induced obesity in lab rats by feeding them a high-fat diet, then fed one group of them probiotics (in this case, Lactobacillus brevis, a healthy bacteria found in fermented foods like kimchi). The probiotic suppressed the diet-induced increase in weight gain by 28 percent! You can find the same benefits in sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, and other fermented foods.

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SOURCE: Eat This Not That!