How Taking Probiotics Can Activate Your Good Gut Bacteria To Help Shed Unwanted Pounds
As living microorganisms, probiotics are able to provide health benefits when you include them in your diet. You can find them in supplemental form and in fermented foods.
Studies have shown that probiotics can improve heart health, digestive health and immune function among providing other benefits1. Other studies even suggest that probiotics may help you to cut belly fat and lose weight.
How Gut Bacteria Can Affect Your Body Weight Regulation
Your digestive system is home to many microorganisms. Most of those are bacteria and are healthy. In fact, the friendly bacteria in your gut can produce a number of important nutrients, including some B vitamins and vitamin K.
In addition, those healthy bacteria break down fiber that your body is unable to digest. It turns it into beneficial fatty acids that your body needs.
Two of the types of good bacteria in the gut are bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Having a balance of those two families of bacteria seems to help with body weight regulation. This is been shown in studies on both humans and animals. Those studies have shown that people who are normal weight have different gut bacteria than individuals who are overweight2.
For the people who were in the study that were obese, they had fewer bacteroidetes and more firmicutes than those who were a normal weight3.
According to some studies, when bacteria from obese mice were transplanted into normal-weight mice, they ended up with excess body fat. That suggests that gut bacteria may be very important for the weight regulation in the human body4.
How Are Probiotics Able to Affect Weight Change?
There is some evidence to connect certain probiotics with the absorption of dietary fat5. More specifically, those probiotics can inhibit dietary fat absorption and increase how much is excreted with feces.
Those probiotics cause your body to absorb fewer calories from the food you are eating.
Some types of bacteria, including those from the Lactobacillus family have shown that benefit6.
Probiotics may be able to reduce an obesity problem in other ways:
Release of GLP-1: When you take probiotics, it may help to reduce your appetite by releasing the GLP-1 hormone. When you have an increased level of that hormone, your body naturally burns fat7.
Increase of ANGPTL4: When you take probiotics, it can increase ANGPTL4, which is a type of protein. It can keep your body from storing as much fat8.
Some evidence also shows that there is a link between brain inflammation and obesity9. When you improve gut health, the probiotics may help to reduce inflammation in the brain and help with obesity.
These mechanisms within the human body are poorly understood so research is necessary.
Probiotics May Assist with Weight Loss and Lower Belly Fat
According to research, certain strains of the lactobacillus bacteria can help you shed belly fat and lose weight.
One study10 had participants eating yogurt with either lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus and they lost a significant amount of body fat.
125 overweight dieters took part in another study11 that showed how taking lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements impacted weight maintenance and weight loss.
The study took place over three months. And the women who took probiotics lost 50% more weight than the group taking a placebo. They continued to lose weight during the weight maintenance phase as well.
Many types of probiotic bacteria have been studied12 but Lactobacillus Gasseri seems to have the most profound effect on weight loss. A number of studies involving rodents have shown anti-obesity effects. In addition, Japanese adults were involved in studies13 that have also shown impressive results.
In one study that followed 210 people with an excess of body fat, Lactobacillus Gasseri was taken for 12 weeks. The study found that it helped to reduce body weight, including fat around the organs. It also improved the waist size, hip circumference and BMI.
Perhaps what was most impressive is that it reduced belly fat by 8.5%. When the probiotic was removed from the diet, the belly fat was gained back within a month14.
Some Probiotics May Prevent You from Gaining Weight
Losing weight is only one of the ways to combat obesity. Perhaps more important is a matter of prevention and keeping the weight from coming on in the first place.
A four-week study involving taking a probiotic formulation VSL#3 showed some interesting results. The participants were overfed by 1000 cal per day yet they still reduced weight during that time14.
According to the study, some probiotic strains are more effective at preventing weight gain when a high-calorie diet is maintained. This still requires much more study.
Weight Loss is Only One Piece of the Puzzle
Lactobacillus gasseri may help individuals who want to lose some belly fat or excess weight. The VSL#3 blend of antibiotics may also help to reduce weight gain if you are eating a high-calorie diet.
When all is said and done, some probiotics may affect your weight, even if they only do so in a small way. When you eat a healthy, plant-based diet, the effect is maximized.
It is important to note that weight loss is only one of the many reasons why a probiotic supplement should be considered. Probiotics can also reduce inflammation, improve the health of your gut and improve your cardiovascular risk factors. They may even be able to help with anxiety and depression.
References: 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22529959, A meta-analysis of probiotic efficacy for gastrointestinal diseases, April 18, 2012 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9406136, Role of intestinal bacteria in nutrient metabolism, November - December, 1991 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17183309, Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity, December 21, 2006 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17183312, An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest, December 21, 2006 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25884980, Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release through enlargement of fat emulsion size in vitro and promotes fecal fat excretion in healthy Japanese subjects, March 20, 2015 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18684338/, Milk fermented by Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 influences adipocyte size via inhibition of dietary fat absorption in Zucker rats, March 10, 2009 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836895, Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate-induced GLP-1 hormone secretion, August 30, 2013 8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20927337, Decreased fat storage by Lactobacillus paracasei is associated with increased levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4), September 30, 2010 9. https://www.ffhdj.com/index.php/ffhd/article/view/2, Probiotics as regulators of inflammation: A review, 2014 10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464612001399, Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons, January, 2013 11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24299712, Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women, April 28, 2014 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23917447/, Anti-obesity effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 accompanied by inhibition of pro-inflammatory gene expression in the visceral adipose tissue in diet-induced obese mice, August 6, 2014 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23614897, Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial, November 14, 2013 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466123, Probiotic supplementation attenuates increases in body mass and fat mass during high-fat diet in healthy young adults, December 23, 2015