Daily Archives: July 20, 2012

Could Probiotics help with Weight Management?

Some research exists to suggest that probiotics could help with weight management – but how would that work, and how sound is the research?

In 2006, a seminal study[1] published in the well-respected journal, Nature, showed a clear difference in the gut bacteria of obese people as opposed to their lean counterparts. What’s more, when obese participants later lost weight, their gut bacteria reverted back to those observed in lean participants.

Since then, smaller studies continue to support the theory that gut bacteria could influence weight. In 2009, a trial[2] found that women who took Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding were less likely to be obese 6 months following birth. 25% of the women who had received dietary advice alongside probiotic supplementation had excess abdominal fat, as opposed to in 43% of women who had received dietary advice with a placebo.

Weight Loss
Weight Loss may be supported by a higher probiotic bacteria balance in the gut

Could we be doing more to fight the obesity epidemic?

In 2010, a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial in Japan[3] found a Lactobacillus probiotic to reduce abdominal fat by 4.6% and subcutaneous fat (just below the skin) by 3.3%. The trial recruited 87 overweight participants and randomly assigned a daily dose of fermented milk either with or without the probiotics, for a period of 12 weeks. The probiotic group given milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055, showed significant decreases in body weight BMI, in waist circumference, and in the hips.

How could Probiotics encourage Weight Loss?

No one knows for certain just yet, but mechanisms could include:

  • Better breakdown of foods (a well understood benefit of probiotics).
  • Displacement of pathogenic bacteria associated with weight gain.
  • Stimulating the body’s production of natural substances associated with decreased body fat.
  • L. acidophilus was found in a small study in 2008[5] to increase the body’s production of leptin (a protein commonly accepted to decrease appetite and increase metabolism) and to result in weight loss.
  • In 2010 scientists in Ireland found another Lactobacillus probiotic to influence the fat composition of the host, via production of the fatty acid t10, c12 CLA; a molecule previously associated with decreased body fat.
  • Correlation between obesity & digestive health issues such as constipation. Fascinating ongoing research in the USA by Dr Mark Pimental suggests that those with constipation could be absorbing more calories, potentially because when the gut performs at a slower rate the body has more time to absorb calories.[6] As probiotics could help to support bowel regularity (especially well-researched strains such as Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12Ò [7],[8]), a more efficient digestive process could lead to fewer calories being absorbed.

Moving Forward

In England our rates of obesity have doubled over the last 25 years, with 60% of adults overweight or obese today[9]. Any natural support in tackling this obesity epidemic could therefore play a fundamental role in the future. Currently evidence remains too sparse for any firm conclusions, although the results certainly look promising. Of course we needn’t tell you that taking a holistic approach and also looking at diet, fitness and exercise is always to be encouraged.

For individuals looking to lose weight a high quality daily probiotic might be suggested. For daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength contains 20 billion high quality Lactobacillus & Bifidobacteria probiotics. L. acidophilus NCFM is thought to be the most researched strain of acidophilus in the world which can be found in this probiotic supplement.

 

References:

1.Bajzer, M, & Seeley, R. ‘Phsyiology: Obesity and Gut Flora.’ Nature, 2006, Vol. 444, pp.1009 -1010.

2.News release, 17th European Congress on Obesity. 17th European Congress on obesity meeting, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 6-9, 2009.

3. Y. Kadooka et al., ‘Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomised controlled trial.’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010, vol. 64, No. 6, pp.636-643.

4. Rosberg-Cody, E. ‘Recombinant Lactobacilli expressing linolic acid isomerise can modulate the fatty acid composition of host adipose tissue in mice’. Microbiology, Dec, 22, 2012 DOI: 10. 1099/mic.0.043406-0.

5. R. Sousa et al., ‘Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus supernatants on body weight and leptin expression in rats’. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008, 8:5 doi: 10.1186/6882-8-5.

6. BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 8th March 2011 2100-2130h ‘Programme no. 9 – gut bacteria’ Radio science unit. Presented by Mark Porter; contributors: Glenn Gibson, Christine Edwards, Thomas Broody, Alisdair Macchonnachie, Mark Pimentel & Ian Rowland.

7. Matsumoto, M. et al. (2001) Effect of yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 in improving fecal microflora and defecation of healthy volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 14(2): pp.97-102.

8. Pitkala, K, H. et al. (2007) Fermented cereal with specific Bifidobacteria normalises bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomised, controlled trial. Journal of Nutriitonal Health and Ageing; 11.(4): pp.305-311.

9. guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/food-companies-health-wellbeing

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