You Docs: How a breath test can help you lose weight

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April 22, 2013 

Jimmy Durante revered his oversize "schnozzola," and insisted "the nose knows."

But what does it really know? About 10,000 distinct odors. Nonetheless, there's one type of bad-for-you breath the nose can't detect - increased amounts of odorless methane and odorless hydrogen that overweight people exhale. It takes lab equipment to sniff out a newly identified culprit in the battle of the bulge: an overgrowth of Methanobrevibacter smithii, a bacterium inside your guts that releases those gasses as it munches every iota of nutrition and calories it can from passing food. This voracious little bug breaks down food to "help" you absorb more; that's why people exhaling the most methane/hydrogen weigh around 15 pounds more than less gassy folks.

What makes Metha smithii run amok? One big cause: processed foods, simple carbs, saturated fats and added sugars and sugar syrups - foods that upset the balance of your gut's bacteria. The solution: Balance the trillions of good and bad bacteria in your guts by eating lean proteins, 100 percent whole grains, healthy fats (the odd omegas, 3, 7 and 9), veggies and fruits.

Next step? Go for 10,000 a day (a pedometer will help count your steps). And take a daily probiotic. We favor 2 to 4 billion spores of bacillus coagulans. That'll keep your immune system strong, your digestion moving smoothly and (believe it or not) your brain focused. When your gut bacteria have the right balance, you'll pass the methane/hydrogen breathalyzer test and continue on your way to a healthy and very alert future!

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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