You’ve probably heard loads about the pros of probiotics already. If you haven’t, or if you don’t know what probiotics are, they’re microorganisms (science speak for bacteria) that help promote a balanced environment in the intestinal tract.
These friendly bacteria are commonly found in fermented foods-milk, yogurt, cabbage, fruit, and soybeans-and are available as nutritional supplements. Probiotics can breeze past the harsh stomach acid undigested, and take residence in the small intestine and colon.
The result is an intestinal microflora that’s not only in balance, but delivers some mighty impressive health benefits.
Since the majority of your body’s immune cells are in the GI tract, probiotics help boost immune function and strengthen the gut’s antioxidant defenses. They also support digestive health and combat occasional irregularity.
Probiotics may do even more than just help boost immunity and tame tummy troubles. A new study has found that they could help you lose weight too.
For this 24-week study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers recruited 125 overweight men and women. For 12 weeks, participants were put on a weight-loss diet. Then, for another 12 weeks, they were put on a weight-maintenance plan.1
Group #1 took two probiotic pills per day.
Group #2 took two placebo pills per day.
After the 12-week weight-loss period, the women in Group #1 lost almost 10 pounds, on average, while the women in Group #2 lost only about 6 pounds.
During the maintenance period, the women in Group #2 maintained a stable weight. Yet the women in Group #1 continued to slim down, losing almost 2 more pounds, on average.
Interestingly, the probiotics didn’t have a significant effect on the men in the study.
Why the Dramatic Results?
The study authors believe that probiotics help you slim down by restoring balance to the gut microflora. In short, more bacteria that promote a healthy weight live in the gut, squeezing out bacteria related to weight gain.
As a result, your intestinal walls become less permeable, especially to certain pro-inflammatory molecules. And, keeping these bad boys from entering the bloodstream helps put the brakes on the biochemical chain reaction that disrupts glucose metabolism and leads to weight gain.
The study used one unique strain of probiotics in the Lactobacillus rhamnosus group. This strain is used in certain brands of yogurt sold in Europe, but not currently available in the United States.
Other Lactobacillus probiotics are also showing promise for weight and fat loss.
Researchers in Japan report weight loss benefits from a strain in the Lactobacillus gasseri group of probiotics. In this multi-center study, the researchers randomly assigned 87 overweight men and women to drink a daily glass of fermented milk either with or without the L. gasseri strain.
After 12 weeks, those in the probiotic group lost weight (over 2 pounds) and trimmed belly fat (almost one inch) while those in the control group stayed the same.2
In a follow-up study involving 210 overweight Japanese adults, the same research group reported similar fat-melting benefits with this probiotic.3
Researchers in Canada recently evaluated whether the probiotics Lactobacillus amylovorus or Lactobacillus fermentum havean effect on gut microflora and help promote body fat loss.
In this study, 28 overweight participants were asked to consume, in random order, a yogurt containing L. amylovorus, L. fermentum, or a plain yogurt for three 43-day phases, each separated by six weeks.
While all groups lost significant amounts of body fat, there was a trend toward more fat loss when the probiotics were happily colonizing the intestine … about 2 to 3 pounds vs. about 1 pound with the plain yogurt.4
The potential weight loss benefits of probiotics is an emerging area of research. It’s fascinating to follow the scientists as they tweak and refine strains that can be commercialized to deliver the most impact for overweight people.
We’re following this exciting work closely and, quite frankly, we’re so impressed with the positives of probiotics that we’ve formulated one of our own. To learn more, click here.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
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1. Sanchez M, Darimont C, Drapeau V, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2013:1-13. PMID: 24299712.
2. Kadooka Y, Sato M, Imaizumi K, et al. 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):636-643. PMID: 20216555.
3. Kadooka Y, Sato M, Ogawa A, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(9):1696-1703. PMID: 23614897.
4. Omar JM, Chan YM, Jones ML, Prakash S, Jones PJH. Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons. J Funct Foods. 2013;5(1):116-123.