Your Gut Health and Weight Loss Medication

woman with tape round waist to illustrate weight loss medication
Medically Reviewed
September 19, 2023

It’s likely you’ve heard that weight loss medication – such as Wegovy, Ozempic, or Mounjaro – can give you some pretty difficult side effects at first. Stomach upset? Gas? Acid reflux? Heartburn? Isn’t this something you associate with poor gut health and being overweight? It’s giving you second thoughts!

However, the good news is it’s possible to manage your gut health and your weight loss injections well, so that you

  • avoid unwanted side effects,
  • stay the course and achieve your target weight, and
  • improve your gut microbiome at the same time.

What’s not to like? But let’s start with what gut health and your gut microbiome are.

Gut Health and Your Gut Microbiome

Your gut encompasses all the intricate parts of your digestive system. And gut health is about the trillions of tiny organisms within your gut – “good” ones and “bad” ones.

Your gut microbiome is unique, shaped by your genetics and environment. If you’re aiming for overall wellbeing, you need your microbiome to remain in balance between those good and bad bacteria.

That’s because if your gut isn’t in good shape, digesting your food becomes less efficient, your body misses out on the nutrients it needs, and your hormone messengers become imbalanced.

There’s an increasing body of research proving that poor gut health contributes to weight issues. If gut health can therefore be improved with weight loss medication, that’s a bonus.

So let’s look more closely at that link between poor gut health and weight gain or obesity.

The Link Between Obesity and Poor Gut Health

If you sabotage the delicate balance of your gut microbes, you end up with “gut dysbiosis” – when harmful microbes outnumber good ones and disrupt how your body stores dietary fats (among other things). Maintaining a healthy gut is therefore essential for managing your weight effectively.

However, if you don’t, the negative effects of obesity on your gut health and microbiome include:

1 Altered microbiome composition

As we’ve mentioned, obesity is associated with changes in the composition of your gut microbiome. There’s less diversity of microorganisms in your gut, as well as an overgrowth of bad bacteria and a reduction in beneficial ones. This means an unhealthy microbiome and metabolism.

2 Inflammation and metabolic dysfunction

Obesity is often accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation, and this inflammation can extend to your gut. It then helps disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome, worsening any metabolic dysfunction. This makes it more difficult for you to regulate your weight.

3 Impaired gut barrier function

If you’re overweight, you’ll likely compromise the integrity of your gut barrier that normally acts as protection between your gut contents and your bloodstream. If it’s compromised, you can get a “leaky gut” – meaning harmful bacterial toxins can pass into your bloodstream and trigger an immune response and more inflammation.

But there’s a solution! That’s why we’re considering weight loss medication and talking about about how to overcome the side effects we mentioned up top!

Time to move on to how Ozempic and other weight loss medications can help you improve both your weight and your gut health – and then how we at Nava Health can help you carefully sidestep most of the initial unwanted effects.

How Weight Loss Medication Helps You Achieve Good Gut Health

Losing weight with the help of weight loss medication will definitely improve your gut health. This is what you get:

1 Microbiome balance: Weight loss often leads to a more balanced and diverse gut microbiome. So – shedding excess weight and reducing the overgrowth of unwanted bacteria can help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, reducing inflammation, and promoting better digestion.

2 Reduced inflammation: Losing some weight lowers chronic inflammation in your whole body, including the gut. This helps to heal your gut lining and improve its barrier function, which prevents harmful substances leaking into your bloodstream.

3 Improved nutrient absorption: As you lose weight and adopt a healthier diet (see below!), your gut becomes more efficient at absorbing essential nutrients from food. This supports your overall health and makes it easier to maintain your healthier weight.

4 Metabolic Benefits: Weight loss often goes hand in hand with improved insulin sensitivity and metabolic function. These changes can help regulate

  • appetite (because you’re not having highs and lows of blood sugar) and
  • energy expenditure (because your cells are working efficiently).

This makes it easier for you to control your body weight in the long term.

5 Positive Feedback Loop: A healthier gut microbiome and reduced inflammation create a positive feedback loop. The vicious circle becomes virtuous! When your gut is healthy, it’s easier to maintain a balanced weight, and maintaining a balanced weight promotes further gut health.

We’ll now address that sticky problem of how to use weight loss medication to kickstart your journey to a healthy weight and improved gut health – without suffering so many side effects you give up.

And since you’ll likely regain the weight you lost if you stop using weight loss drugs, we recommend that you work with a functional nutritionist to help you maintain your target weight via a medical weight loss program.

How to Start Weight Loss Medication and Maintain a Healthy Gut Long Term

Starting weight loss medication safely

Functional medicine and integrative practitioners take time to understand your body as a whole before agreeing with you that semaglutide (the ingredient in Ozempic etc.) is best for your initial weight loss journey.

They will likely then start you off on a small dose. The purpose is to allow your body to get used to the weight loss drug slowly. They increase the dose slowly over time.

In addition, to minimize side effects, they’ll advise you which foods to avoid. That’s because some foods high in fat, sugars, or calories can increase side effects of nausea, vomiting, constipation, etc.

Maintaining a healthy gut and weight long term

There is insufficient research so far about long-term use of semaglutide (over two years). So it’s wise to think medium term. You need to adjust your lifestyle and diet while on weight loss medication, so you don’t risk losing your gains when you stop.

That means asking your healthcare provider about a personalized nutrition plan and some lifestyle changes to support your long-term gut health and target weight.

Nava Health and Weight Loss Medication

At Nava Health, our medical weight loss program is NavaRX. This combines semaglutide injections with a medically supervised diet to support your long-term journey to a healthy weight for you – and good gut health.

Schedule a consultation today and let’s talk!

Image attribution

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A Medical Director, and one of the first physicians to join the Nava Health & Vitality Center, Dr. Douglas Lord has made significant contributions to our Center and its founding principles. Dr. Lord has helped develop and implement the Nava Method™—Nava’s proprietary approach to total body wellness. He has also been instrumental in liaising with other expert practitioners to successfully implement Nava’s range of therapies, treatments, and products.

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Your Gut Health and Weight Loss Medication
Weight loss medication such as Ozempic and Wegovy can help you reach your target weight and also improve your gut health. Learn more!