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Gut Bacteria and Bodyweight regulation - Are probiotics the key to weight loss?
Probiotics could help with weight loss and metabolism.
Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods. They are also available in certain supplements.
Improving digestive health, supporting immune function, and promoting heart health are just a few benefits of probiotics (1).
Can probiotics also help you lose weight?
This is a topic scientists are starting to explore, and several studies suggest that probiotics could help with weight loss and weight regulation.
Your digestive system has hundred of different microorganisms. A critical function of these friendly bacteria is helping your digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients (2).
Bacteroidetes and firmicutes are two groups of good bacteria.
These two groups of bacteria might also be related to body weight.
Studies investigating the relationship between body weight and gut bacteria discovered more firmicutes and fewer Bacteroides in people with obesity, compared to normal-weight people (3, 4).
This suggests gut bacteria play a vital role in body weight regulation.
How probiotics affect changes in weight
Research studies have discovered several ways probiotics may fight obesity.
Bacteria from the *Lactobacillus* group are thought to inhibit the absorption of dietary fat (5). Another way of understanding this is they help you absorb fewer calories from food (6, 7).
Certain probiotics could help the body release the GLP-1 hormone (8, 9). This is an “appetite-reducing” hormone. There is evidence to suggest increased levels of GLP-a may help to burn calories and fat.
Increased ANGPTL4 protein levels may lead to decreased fat storage. The levels of this protein could be increased by probiotics (10).
Another way probiotics could influence weight loss is by reducing systemic inflammation (11). There is a good amount of evidence that links obesity to inflammation in the brain.
Between reducing the number of calories you absorb, reducing inflammation, and affecting hormones and protein involved in appetite control and fat storage, probiotics are deeply connected to body weight regulation.
However, this area is in the infancy stage of research. More research is needed to fully understand how probiotics and gut health are related to weight loss and metabolism.
Which strains of probiotics help with weight loss?
There are hundreds and hundreds of bacteria strains in your gut. Among them, researchers note several important bacteria strains that could help you lose weight.
The Lactobacillus family of bacteria has proven to be connected to weight loss in several studies.
In one study, a group of 125 overweight individuals was observed to investigate how Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements affect weight loss and weight maintenance. Over three months, female dieters from the group lost 50% more weight compared to those in the group not taking the supplement (12).
In another study, body fat was reduced by 3 to 4% over six weeks from eating yogurt with Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus (13).
Probiotics for less belly fat
Of all the strains of bacteria from the Lactobacillus family, the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus gasseri has the most effect on weight. Many studies of this bacteria in rodents found it could have anti-obesity properties (14, 15).
One example is a study following 210 people with significant amounts of belly fat. After taking Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks, the group showed a reduction in body weight. More specifically, they had less fat around organs and decreased waist size. Most impressively, belly fat; decreased 8.5% (16).
Probiotics to prevent weight gain
Losing weight won’t be an obstacle down the road if we take action to avoid the weight gain from happening in the first place.
Some probiotic strains could be effective at preventing weight gain on a high calories diet. This area needs significantly more research.
Can some probiotics increase the risk of weight gain?
So far, we only looked at how probiotics may help with weight loss. However, among the hundreds and thousands of gut bacteria, it is not surprising there could be strains that do the opposite.
One study suggested the probiotic strain Lactobacillus acidophilus may lead to weight gain (18).
This is further evidence of how little we know about the full effect of probiotics and how probiotic strains influence our body.
Should you try probiotics for weight loss?
While there are a lot of studies suggesting some strains of probiotics could help with weight loss, there is no one-size-fits-all probiotic.
Probiotics and gut health are very complex. While gut health is related to our metabolism, weight regulation, and metabolism, its a small part of the bigger picture.
We each have our own unique microbiome, there is no guarantee any two people will have the same response to upping probiotic intake.
Probiotics are the latest buzzword to take over the health and wellness industry today. But probiotics are only half of the puzzle towards a healthy gut.
Prebiotics (essentially soluble fiber) are the other critical part of achieving a healthy gut. The good gut bacteria feed on this fiber. This results in health benefits like clear skin, heart health, and reduced inflation.
It is surprising you don’t hear more about probiotics, especially since 97% of Americans are not getting enough fiber through their diet (19).
There is no magic probiotic supplement or pill that will be more effective towards weight loss than regular exercise and a healthy, plant-rich diet.
Even thirty minutes of walking a day can make a significant impact on your weight loss journey.
With that being said, a probiotic and prebiotic combo can help get you closer to your weight loss goals.
A great way to start is by increasing the amount of fiber-rich prebiotic foods in your diet (20).
Fiber-rich prebiotic foods include fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vegetables.
A probiotic/prebiotic supplement might be worth taking, but this carried person to person.
It is best to consult your doctor or medical professional before making any lifestyle changes or adding supplements to your diet.
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