The New Science Behind Probiotics and Getting Lean
by Dr. Steven Sisskind
The numbers are astonishing: In spite of having about 10 trillion cells in your body, you have about 10 times more micro-organisms living in your gut.
Most of these bacteria live in your digestive tract and help break down your food, absorb vital nutrients and make key vitamins.
But in recent years, scientists and researchers have realized these bacteria do more than just help your digestion — they interact with cells that influence your energy levels and how you store fat.
Now there’s new evidence that adding more of these beneficial bacteria — in the form of probiotics — may help you lose weight and resist the storage of extra fat.1, 2
Probiotics May Cut Risk of a Fat Belly
In a study from the European Association for the Study of Obesity, researchers discovered that pregnant women who took certain probiotics were far less likely to be obese or have a fat belly one year after giving birth.3
In the study, 256 women were divided into three groups:
- Group 1 received dietary advice and daily capsules of probiotics.
- Group 2 received dietary advice and received placebo pills (no probiotics).
- Group 3 was not given dietary advice but also received placebo pills.
After one year, the researchers measured the women for what they call “central obesity,” the accumulation of abdominal fat resulting in an increased waist size. This is a form of obesity that is correlated with cardiovascular disease.
The results were very interesting!
The women who took the real probiotics and not the placebo were more than 41% less likelyto be obese than the women who received the placebo pills.
That means the women taking the probiotics significantly cut their risk of being fat.
While there isn’t enough proof to call this a sure thing, there are other studies that suggest probiotics can help you slim down:
- A study from 2010, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 87 people for 12 weeks as they drank fermented milk enhanced with a probiotic called Lactobacillus gasseri (LG2055). Compared to the control group, the people taking the LG2055 lost more body weight and belly fat.4
- An animal study published in the journal Microbiology showed that a specially-engineered probiotic had an impact on the metabolism and fat composition of mice. The authors of the study concluded that the probiotics may play a role in preventing obesity.5
- Another curious study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery followed patients recovering from gastric bypass surgery. Split into two groups, the patients who received the probiotics showed significantly greater weight loss than those who didn’t.6
These studies tell us that probiotics may be a viable way to help control weight gain, and could even help you get rid of some belly fat.
The number of published studies is still limited, but I’m excited by the possibilities. I’m currently exploring different strains to find the best combination for weight loss, and when I find something worth recommending, I’ll let you know in a future blog post.
Dr. Steven Sisskind
Dr. Steven Sisskind
1. Delzenne NM, et al. Interaction between obesity and the gut microbiota: relevance in nutrition. Annu Rev Nutr. 2011 Aug 21;31:15-31.
2. Diamant M, et al. Do nutrient-gut-microbiota interactions play a role in human obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes? Obes Rev. 2011 Apr;12(4):272-81.
3. European Association for the Study of Obesity (2009, May 7). Probiotics May Help Ward Off Obesity, Study In Pregnant Women Suggests..
4. Kadooka Y, 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):636-43.
5. Rosberg-Cody E, et al. “Recombinant lactobacilli expressing linoleic acid isomerase can modulate the fatty acid composition of host adipose tissue in mice.” Microbiology. 2010 Dec 22.
6. Woodard GA, et al. “Probiotics improve outcomes after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery: a prospective randomized trial.” J Gastrointest Surg. 2009 Jul;13(7):1198-204.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES