If you have a long-standing weight problem, you’ve almost certainly experienced this: The more you diet, the harder it is to lose weight. For years scientists attributed this to a change in metabolism but had no real explanation for the mechanism. Now researchers at the Weitzman Institute in Israel have discovered a compelling explanation. Their research was done in mice, but it’s readily translated to humans and, most importantly, it points to a simple dietary treatment. The research deals with one of the most important topics in nutritional medicine today, the interaction between bacteria in your gut (the gut microbiome) and phytonutrients called flavonoids found in the food you eat.
Flavonoids are polyphenols, chemicals naturally produced by plants. There are over 400 flavonoids in the human diet, and the average Western diet supplies about 1,000 milligrams a day. Asian diets supply four to five times that amount, mostly from teas and spices. Best known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects, flavonoids can influence almost every system in your body. High intake of flavonoids in the diet has been associated with decreased risk of many chronic diseases and allergies.