Category Archives: weight

Probiotic Lactobacilus rhamnosus aids weight loss in overweight women

A study published recently in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that supplementation with the probiotic L. rhamnosus encourages weight loss in overweight women.

Weight Loss
A probiotic supplement may encourage weight loss and healthy metabolic changes when used alongside a healthy, balanced diet.

A group of 125 overweight men and women were placed on a calorie restricted diet for 12 weeks, followed by a further 12-weeks of a ‘weight maintenance’ diet. While half of the participants were given a placebo supplement, the other half were given two capsules of L rhamnosus probiotic supplements at a total daily dosage of 1.6 billion L rhamnosus bacteria.

Both body weight and body composition were measured at the beginning of the study and then at 12 and 24 weeks. The probiotic supplement did not appear to affect weight loss in the men at all. However, the effect of probiotics on the women in the study was more marked. Compared to the women in the placebo group, those women taking probiotics experienced significantly more weight loss at the 12-week mark. While the placebo group managed a loss of 2.6 kg, those women on probiotics experienced an average loss of 4.4 kg.

After 12 weeks, all of the women were placed on a weight maintenance diet. As expected, the women in the placebo group maintained their original weight loss. In contrast, the women in the probiotic group continued to lose weight and body fat, losing an average of 5.2 kg by the end of the study. These women were also found to have lower levels of circulating leptin, a hormone that helps to regulate appetite and satiety.

It is particularly interesting that the women taking the probiotic continued to lose weight despite eating at maintenance. The study’s results suggest that the L. rhamnosus strain may encourage metabolic changes that favour weight loss. The researchers suggest that probiotics may act by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall. Because probiotics can prevent certain proinflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, they might therefore help prevent the chain reaction that leads to glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. This mechanism of action suggest that other strains of probiotics could have a similar effect. Indeed other studies have encountered similar successful results with probiotics such as lactobacillus fermentum, lactobacillus amylovorus, akkermansia muciniphila and lactobacillus gasserei (2-4).

It is not clear why the rhamnosus probiotic appeared to benefit the women but not the men in the study. The researchers suggested that the men may have needed a higher dose or a longer period of supplementation.

Clearly maintaining a healthy weight requires a healthy, balanced diet. For those wanting to lose weight, this study suggests that a probiotic supplement may encourage weight loss and healthy metabolic changes when used alongside a healthy, balanced diet. The link between probiotics and weight loss is a particularly fascinating one, and hopefully this study will encourage further research in this area.

References

Sanchex M et al (2014) Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women B J NutrApr 28;111(8):1507-19.

Omar et al (2012). Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in health persons. Journal of Functional Foods.

Everard A et al (2013) Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesity. PNAS 110:22, 9066-9071.

Reference: Kadooka, Y. et al; ‘Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randmomized controlled trial.’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition., June 2010, Vol. 64, No. 6, Pp. 636-643.

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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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Vitamin D in pregnancy linked to children’s body fat

Vitamin D and Pregnancy

New research has linked levels of body fat in children to the Vitamin D intake of their mothers. Children are more likely to be fatter if their mother had low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy.

The research was conducted by scientists at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU), University of Southampton. This study looked at the vitamin D status of 977 pregnant women, and then investigated the body composition of their children at three weeks old, and at the ages of 4 and 6.

The analysis took factors such as maternal height, age, number of children, education, and smoking into consideration, as well as vitamin D intake from food and supplements. The study also took into account other factors such as the amount of weight gain in pregnancy, or the amount of physical activity of the children.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy
Good Vitamin D in Pregnancy is very important. Recent research suggests it could support healthy weight levels childhood.

After controlling these variables, the findings from this study showed that the children who were born to mothers who had low vitamin D status in pregnancy had more body fat when they were six years old.

The researchers suggest that Vitamin D deficiency in the womb might ‘pre-programme’ the baby to gain excess body fat later in childhood.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the unit that conducted the research said that the study underlined life-long effects of maternal nutrition: “The observations that maternal vitamin D insufficiency might be associated with reduced size at birth, but accelerated gain in body fat during early childhood, add to the considerable amount of evidence suggesting that vitamin D status during pregnancy may have critical effects on the later health of offspring.”

Study leader Dr Siân Robinson maintained that further research is needed, but emphasised the importance of understanding the consequences of nutrition in pregnancy. “In the context of current concerns about low vitamin D status in young women, and increasing rates of childhood obesity in the UK, we need to understand more about the long-term health consequences for children who are born to mothers who have low vitamin D status.”

Indeed there are growing concerns about levels of Vitamin D in young women. An estimated 50% of those in the UK are believed to have insufficient levels of this essential nutrient. It is currently recommended that pregnant women should supplement 10 micrograms of Vitamin D each day. Unfortunately many women are unaware of this recommendation and supplementation is not routine.

If you are currently pregnant, or trying to conceive, a suitable multi-vitamin is one of the best steps you can take to safeguard the health of your future children. Vitamin D levels are listed in either micrograms (mcg) or International Units (IU). 10 micrograms is equivalent to 400 International Units.

Alongside supplements, safe sun exposure is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the Vitamin D you need. While protecting the more sensitive skin on your face with a good sun block or a hat, you can expose your arms or legs to give yourself a Vitamin D boost. During the hot summer months, fair skinned women should start with just a few minutes exposure each day, while their skin builds up its natural protection. Foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals can also help you to boost your Vitamin D status.

Under the NHS Healthy Start scheme, pregnant women are entitled to free Vitamin D supplements. Alternatively you can take a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula that provides 10mcg of Vitamin D alongside the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy pregnancy.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. UniversityofSouthampton. “Children’s body fat linked to Vitamin D insufficiency in mothers” ScienceDaily, 23 May 2012. Web. 27 May 2012.

 

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New Evidence for Green Coffee Extract and Weight Loss

A new study suggests that green coffee extract may be an effective supplement in aiding weight loss (1). The supplement was linked with substantial weight loss, decreased body fat, and a decrease in blood pressure over the short study period.

The research, published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, followed a group of 16 adults over a course of 22 weeks.

Green Coffee Extract may help weight
Green Coffee Extract may help weight management (4.)

Each participant was overweight or obese, and aged between 22 and 26 years. The study used a high dose capsule (1050mg), a low dose capsule (700mg) and a placebo. The study was a “cross-over” design, meaning that participants cycled through the dose active doses and the placebo, taking each for 6 weeks. Each person essentially acted as his or her own “control”, meaning that the study results were more likely to be accurate and meaningful.

The diets of the participants were monitored throughout. “Their calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein intake did not change during the study, nor did their exercise regimen change,” study leader Vinson said. On average, the participants were eating around 2400 calories per day.

The subjects lost an average of 17 pounds over the course of the study. This was equal to 10.5% of their overall body weight. Each participant also lost an average of 16% body fat. Telephone interviews conducted 4 months after the study ended found that 14 of the 16 subjects had maintained their weight loss.

The caffeine in the supplement is unlikely to have contributed to the result. In total, the supplements provided up to 20mg caffeine – about the amount in a regular cup of coffee.

The active ingredient in the supplement actually appears to be chlorogenic acid. This is a compound naturally present in green coffee which acts as a strong anti-oxidant, quenching free oxygen radicals. Chlorogenic acid has been found to slow down the absorption of fat from the intestine and to activate fat metabolism in the liver (2). It also inhibits sugar absorption and influences glucose metabolism (3). Chlorogenic acid breaks down when coffee beans are roasted, meaning that drinking regular coffee will not offer the same benefits.

The design of the study used only a short break between each ‘cycle’, where the subjects swapped between supplements, and this may have affected the result. Despite this limitation, the authors concluded that the green coffee supplement may be “an effective neutraceutical in reducing weight in preobese adults, and may be an inexpensive means of preventing obesity in overweight adults.”

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. Vinson J, Burnham B, Nagendran MV (2012) Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 5: 21-27.

2. Shimoda H, Seki E, Aitani M (2006) Inhibitory effect of green coffee bean extract on fat accumulation and body weight gain in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med 17;6:9.

3. Narita Y, Inouye K. (2009) Kinetic analysis and mechanism on the inhibition of chlorogenic acid and its components against porcine pancreas alpha-amylase isozymes I and II. J Agric Food Chem. 14;57(19):9218-25.

4. Image courtesy of Foto76

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Calcium and Vitamin D may reduce abdominal fat

A new trial has found that calcium and vitamin D may decrease levels of abdominal fat in overweight adults.

Abdominal fat is linked with a higher risk of several diseases, including heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Reducing excess levels of this type of fat is crucial for those wanting to improve their long-term health.

Fresh Orange Juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D may help reduce abdominal fat
Fresh Orange Juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D may help reduce abdominal fat

The trial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was carried out by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. It tested the effect of fortified orange juice on the fat levels of 171 healthy overweight and obese adults between the ages of 18 and 65.

The research team carried out two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. One trial tested a regular Calcium and Vitamin D (CaD) fortified orange juice. The second trial tested a reduced calorie (‘lite’) CaD-fortified orange juice. Abdominal fat or ‘visceral adipose tissue’ (VAT) was measured by x-ray before and after the trial.

The trials lasted 16 weeks, during which each participant drank three 240ml glasses of orange juice fortified with 350mg calcium and 100IU vitamin D per day. The control groups drank unfortified regular or unfortified ‘lite’ orange juice.

The results showed that abdominal fat in those drinking the regular fortified orange juice decreased by 12.7cm2 on average. Those who drank the unfortified juice saw a decrease on just 1.3cm2.

In addition, those who drank the fortified ‘lite’ juice saw a decrease in abdominal fat of 13.1cm2, compared with just 6.4cm2 in the unfortified ‘lite’ juice control group.

“Our results suggest that, in overweight and obese adults, a moderate reduction in energy intake and supplementation of calcium and vitamin D in juice beverages lead to a reduction in intraabdominal fat”, concluded the researchers.

Many experts believe that calcium and vitamin D are involved in the healthy metabolism of fat. It is also thought that calcium might accelerate weight loss by binding to fat in the intestine and removing it from the body.

“A large portion of the population is deficient in vitamin D, and dietary calcium intake often does not meet current recommendations,” the researchers stated.

To improve your calcium levels, you should ensure that you are eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, and that you are absorbing the mineral effectively. Rich sources of calcium include dairy, sardines and salmon, leafy greens such as mustard greens, and green vegetables such as broccoli. Calcium absorption also requires adequate dietary magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin A, C and D.

Calcium citrate is believed by many to be the most efficiently absorbed form of calcium, rather than the cheaper carbonate form. For those supplementing vitamin D, the emulsified form is often considered to be well absorbed.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

Jennifer L Rosenblum, Victor M Castro, Carolyn E Moore, Lee M Kaplan. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is associated with decreased abdominal visceral adipose tissue in overweight and obese adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. January 2012.

Image courtesy of Paul

 

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The benefits of diet on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common female endocrine (hormone secreting glands) condition which is characterised by excessive androgens (mainly the male hormone testosterone) in the blood and anovulation (no ovulation). This leads to underdeveloped ovary follicles which are unable to fully release their eggs, then becoming attached to the ovary edges and developing into excess amounts of egg filled cysts (polycystic). Symptoms of PCOS often include sub-fertility, irregular periods, acne, excessive hair, insulin resistance and obesity which can all be extremely distressing for the individual. Consequently, low self esteem and depression are also common for sufferers.

PCOS can be positively influenced by a healthy diet
Diet has been shown to be a powerful influence on the symptoms of PCOS

A review (1) on PCOS published last year (2010) in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society journal looked into the roles that diet and weight have on the symptoms. The review reports on the great impact weight loss has for those that are obese as it helps with insulin resistance and reduces the male hormone testosterone, which then improves ovulation and fertility. However, weight is not the only concern with PCOS and diet has also been shown to be a powerful influence on the symptoms. Due to the link between PCOS and insulin resistance, low glycaemic index diets (which include foods which release glucose in to the blood slowly and steadily to prevent sugar highs and lows) have been shown to benefit insulin sensitivity and the menstrual cycle for sufferers. These foods include beans, lentils, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, nuts, salmon, meat (excluding red meat), all vegetables except green peas, sweet corn and carrots and fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes and pears among many others. As you can see from this list of healthy foods, low G.I foods are a great addition to any diet as they also keep you fuller for longer, are packed with nutrients, and can help with weight management as well. In addition to these foods, the authors of the review also commented on reports that fatty acids may help with the symptoms of PCOS as they reduce the levels of abdominal fat and liver fat, and new research suggests that fatty acids may also reduce androgen secretions, which again can benefit PCOS symptoms.

The fantastic effects of food on PCOS was also recently addressed on the Channel 4 programme Food Hospital which many of you may have seen, where a young lady was suffering with the classic symptoms previously described. After 12 weeks of improving her diet aiming to reduce the amount of testosterone in her body (by including the foods mentioned earlier, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and limiting junk food), the sufferer significantly reduced her symptoms. She also had a considerable boost to her self esteem as her facial hair had reduced and she had lost weight. The results were positive and are a good representation of how powerful food can be for our health, and supports any efforts to make more healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

Written by Lauren Foster

References

(1)  O’Connor, A. Gibney, J.  and Roche, H.M. (2010) Metabolic and hormonal aspects of polycystic ovary syndrome: the impact of diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69, 628–635.

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Diabetes epidemic on a global scale

The number of people dignosed with Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled since the 1980s, and this number continues to grow in almost every part of the world.

In a large-scale study published in The Lancet last month, researchers found that rates of diabetes have either risen or at best remained the same in virtually all parts of the world in the past 30 years.

Glaucometer
The number of people dignosed with Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled since the 1980s (2)

While Type 1 diabetes is an automimmune disorder, Type 2 is a preventable condition caused by factors such as diet and lifestyle.  Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells of the body become ‘insulin resistant’, meaning that they are no longer able to take up sugar.  As a result, sugar continues to circulate in the bloodstream where it can cause damage around the body.

The long term risks of diabetes include damage to the nerves, kidneys and retinas, as well as increased rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Many of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabates end up taking long-term prescription medications to control blood glucose levels.

The new study is the largest of its kind for diabetes, and was conducted by an international group of researchers in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.

It found that between 1980 and 2008, the number of adults with diabetes rose from 153 million to 347 million. Much of this rise was a result of population growth and longevity.  However, 30% of the rise was due to higher prevalence.  Currently 9.8% of men and 9.2% of women now suffer with Type 2 diabetes.

Goodarz Danaei, from the Harvard School of Public Health, added “Unless we develop better programs for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to improve their diet and physical activity and control their weight, diabetes will inevitably continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world.”  These three simple changes to your diet can help reduce your risk of diabetes:

Cut the sugar

Refined carbohydrates cause sharp rises in your blood sugar levels.  Over time this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Start by replacing sugary foods with more healthy alternatives.  Replace sugary sodas and energy drinks with herbal teas and green tea. Switch sweets and chocolate for a piece of fruit.  Avoid sugary breakfast cereal and start the day with eggs on wholegrain toast or fruit and yoghurt.

BioCare Get Up and Go Low GL Breakfast Shake Powder - 300g Powder
Try a high fibre smoothie, such as Biocare’s Get Up and Go Low GL Breakfast Shake.

Increase your fibre intake

A high fibre diet decreases your risk of diabetes, and you should aim for between 20 and 35g fibre each day.
Easy ways to increase your fibre intake include replacing fruit juice with a piece of fruit or a fruit smoothie, and replacing white pasta, rice and bread with wholegrain alternatives.  You could also try a high fibre smoothie, such as BioCare’s Get Up and Go Low GL Breakfast Shake.

Add lean protein

Including a source of lean protein with each meal can help you to control your blood sugar.

Replace fatty and processed meats such as burgers, bacon and sausages with lean meats such as chicken and turkey.  Other good sources of lean protein include eggs, cottage cheese, reduced fat hummus, tofu, and pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Written by Nadia Mason
References
Goodarz Danaei et al. (2011) National, regional, and global trends in fasting plasma glucose and diabetes prevalence since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 370 country-years and 2.7 million participants.  The Lancet. 378(9875):31-40

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Healthy Gut Flora Could Prevent Obesity

‘Good’ bacteria in the gut may help to control weight, according to a recent study.

Probiotics are bacteria that help to maintain a bacterial balance in the digestive tract by reducing the growth of harmful bacteria. They are an important part of the digestive system, helping to control inflammation and support healthy digestion.

‘Good’ bacteria in the gut may help to control weight.
‘Good’ bacteria in the gut may help to control weight, according to a recent study. (1)

Caroline Karlsson, a researcher in food hygiene at Lund University, has tested the effects of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria on weight gain in rats (2). One group of rats were given a daily dose of probiotic lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL19. A second group were given Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, a pathogenic bacteria known to cause inflammation. Both groups of rats were fed the same diet.

When the rats were tested, it was found that the E. coli bacteria had led to changes in the gut flora and increased body fat. The group of rats given the lactic acid bacteria, however, were found to have a better balance of naturally occurring bacteria in their intestines. These rats put on significantly less weight than other rats, even though they ate the same amount of high-energy food.

Previous studies have presented similar findings. A human study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tested the effects of lactic acid bacteria on body weight (3). A milk drink containing lactobacilli was given to 87 participants every day for 12 weeks.  Another group was given a milk drink free from lactobacilli. After 12 weeks, the lactobacilli group showed a greater reduction in abdominal fat and body weight than the control group.

A further study (4) indicated that women were less likely to become obese after giving birth if they had taken probiotics (Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium strains) during pregnancy. One year after giving birth, the women who were given probiotics had the lower levels of obesity and body fat than those who were given placebo capsules.

Research regarding the role of probiotics in weight loss is in its early stages, and many studies to date have been fairly small. The results look promising, however, and there is increasing evidence that probiotic supplements can be benefical for promoting a healthy digestive and immune system.

Topping up your levels of healthy gut flora is simple. A good quality probiotic supplement such as Biocare’s Acidophilus Forte provides good levels of lactic acid bacteria. Those looking to increase their levels of probiotics through diet can also enrich their meals with probiotic foods. Try fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi and miso – or even a simple probiotic yoghurt with your morning cereal.

References

1.  Image courtesy of  luigi diamanti.

2.  Lund University. “Healthy gut flora could prevent obesity, rat study suggests.” ScienceDaily, 26 May 2011. Web. 29 May 2011.

3.  Kadooka Y, Sato M, Imaizumi K, Ogawa A, Ikuyama K, Akai Y, Okano M, Kagoshima M, Tsuchida T. “Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;64(6):636-43.

4.  Luoto R, Laitinen K, Nermes M, Isolauri E. Impact of maternal probiotic-supplemented dietary counselling on pregnancy outcome and prenatal and postnatal growth: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 2010 Feb 4:1-8.

Written by Nadia Mason

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A protein-rich breakfast may prevent food cravings and overeating

A recent study has found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces feelings of hunger throughout the day (1).  Skipping breakfast has been linked with overeating, weight gain and obesity. Those who regularly skip breakfast have 4.5 times the risk of obesity as those who consume breakfast regularly (2).

Protein Rich Breakfast
A recent study has found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces feelings of hunger throughout the day. (3)

Researcher Heather Leidy recently conducted a study to determine whether the type of breakfast we eat might also affect hunger and feelings of fullness.  She assessed hunger and satiety by measuring self-perceived appetite sensations. The researchers also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify activity in specific areas of the brain related to food motivation and reward.

The study was conducted on overweight teenage girls who habitually skipped breakfast. One group of participants was given a regular breakfast of cereal and milk for seven days, while a second group ate a higher protein breakfast. On the seventh day, the participants completed appetite and satiety questionnaires. They were also given a brain scan which recorded the brain’s response to images of food prior to lunch.

Compared to skipping breakfast, both types of morning meal led to increased fullness and reduced appetite before lunchtime. The brain scan confirmed that activity in regions of the brain that control ‘food motivation and reward’, or the desire to eat, was reduced at lunchtime when breakfast had been eaten earlier.  Additionally, the protein-rich breakfast led to even greater changes in appetite, feelings of fullness and desire to eat.

Leidy advises caution in interpreting the results of this preliminary study, as the sample size was small. The initial findings indicate that eating a protein-rich breakfast might help to control appetite and prevent overeating in young people.  “People reach for convenient snack foods to satisfy their hunger between meals, but these foods are almost always high in sugar and fat and add a substantial amount of calories to the diet.” Liedy said. “Incorporating a healthy breakfast containing protein-rich foods can be a simple strategy for people to stay satisfied longer, and therefore, be less prone to snacking,”

Protein-rich breakfasts can be simple and quick to prepare. Try a couple of poached eggs on a slice of wholegrain toast, unsweetened museli with natural yoghurt, or a couple of slices of rye bread spread with peanut butter. Or for those who love their usual breakfast cereal, you can boost the protein content by sprinkling on a protein powder such as Higher Nature’s Hemp Protein.

References

1.  Heather J. Leidy, et al. Harris. Neural Responses to Visual Food Stimuli After a Normal vs. Higher Protein Breakfast in Breakfast-Skipping Teens: A Pilot fMRI Study. Obesity, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/oby.2011.108.

2.  Ma, Y., Bertone, E., Staneck, EJ., et al. Association between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-living US Adult Population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2003; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwg117.3.

3.  Image courtesy of  Simon Howden.

Written by Nadia Mason

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Eating food rich in vitamins and minerals may impact perceived hunger levels

In September I wrote about the importance of eating a high-quality, healthy, nutrient dense diet when attempting to lose weight or restrict calorie intakes.  Now a new study (1) has indicated that eating such a nutrient dense diet, rich in vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) may influence hunger and satiety.

The study (1) was set up in order to analyse the changes in experience and perception of hunger before and after individuals changed from their usual diet to a high nutrient density diet.

The study is important since hunger can cause people to overeat and consume more calories than their bodies require, hence leading to overweight and obesity over time. 

 

The research involved over 700 participants who had changed their dietary habits from a low micronutrient diet i.e. one that was low in vitamins and minerals, to a high micronutrient diet.  Participants completed a survey rating various dimensions of hunger (physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, and location) when on their previous usual diet versus the high micronutrient density diet.   Highly significant differences were found between the two diets in relation to all physical and emotional symptoms as well as the location of hunger (1). Hunger was not an unpleasant experience while on the high nutrient density diet, was well tolerated and occurred with less frequency even when meals were skipped. Nearly 80% of respondents reported that their experience of hunger had changed since starting the high nutrient density diet, with 51% reporting a dramatic or complete change in their experience of hunger.

 

The authors of the study conclude that

A high micronutrient density diet mitigates the unpleasant aspects of the experience of hunger even though it is lower in calories. Hunger is one of the major impediments to successful weight loss. Our findings suggest that it is not simply the caloric content, but more importantly, the micronutrient density of a diet that influences the experience of hunger. It appears that a high nutrient density diet, after an initial phase of adjustment during which a person experiences “toxic hunger” due to withdrawal from pro-inflammatory foods, can result in a sustainable eating pattern that leads to weight loss and improved health. A high nutrient density diet provides benefits for long-term health as well as weight loss. Because our findings have important implications in the global effort to control rates of obesity and related chronic diseases, further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results”.

Satiety and hunger are influenced by many different factors.  In terms of nutrition and satiety I have previously written about the effect of fibre, prebiotics, probiotics, cinnamon, omega 3 fatty acids and low GI foods and their impact on satiety.

The nutrient quality of the food we eat is very important since a high quality diet will provide the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (bioactive plant nutrients) that are essential for our health and wellbeing.   Vitamins and minerals are essential for the efficient functioning of the body, including the brain.  Eating enough vegetables, fruits, beans/pulses, wholegrains, unprocessed meats/fish, nuts and seeds is a good way to ensure adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals.  These kinds of foods are nutrient dense. 

Supplements should never be considered as an alternative to a healthy diet, however if you are not regularly consuming vegetables, fruits and other nutrient dense foods you might want to check with your doctor about the suitability of a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, together with an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, to provide for any shortfalls. 

(1)Joel Fuhrman  J et al.  2010.  Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet.  Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:51doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-51.  Published 7th November 2010.

Written by Ani Kowal

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