Do Probiotics help lose weight and belly fat?
Probiotics are good gut bacteria that live in our digestive tract. There exist a symbiotic relationship between us and these bacteria in our body. They get fed when we eat and also give us a lot of benefits in return.
Research data shows that the direct link between probiotics and weight loss is actually weak. Recent research studies shows that the effect of probiotics on fat mass was non-significant and that probiotics have shown no significant effects on body weight and BMI.
However, recent research suggests that by looking at the way probiotics work in the gut system there exists an indirect relationship between weight loss and probiotics.
The bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract known as the gut microbiota are involved in nutrient intake and energy regulation. Studies show that in obese humans and animals, the microbiota extract and absorb more calories from food and store them in fat cells.
Unhealthy gut bacteria can increase your craving for food and often times influence the kind of foods you crave. An unhealthy gut will lead to increase in fat deposition, cause systemic inflammation and production of endotoxins which are capable of triggering appetite and increased fat storage via hormonal pathways. This situation is not farfetched given that 9 out of 10 adults have taken a good amount of anti-biotic into their system. When we take antibiotics we do not only destroy the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria in our gut.
There are two main families of good bacteria in the gut: bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Body weight seems to be related to the balance of these two families of bacteria. Various studies have shown clearly that normal weight people have different strains of gut bacteria than overweight or obese people.
In these studies people with obesity had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes compared to normal weight people. What is not clear is if this imbalance led to the obesity or the obesity led to the imbalance.
A test carried out on mice by transferring bacteria from fat mice to lean mice showed the lean mice then got fat.
So how does probiotics then help in weight loss?
A study by Ogawa A. shows that the probiotic lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release through enlargement of fat emulsion size in vitro and promotes fecal fat excretion. This simply means they increase the amount of fat that is excreted with feces. This means we harvest fewer calories from our diet and so less fat is stored in the body fat cells.
Probiotics may also help in other ways such as helping to release satiety (appetite-reducing) hormone and increasing levels of protein that may decreased fat storage. There is also evidence that obesity is linked to low grade inflammation of cells. By improving gut health, probiotics may reduce systemic inflammation and protect against obesity and other diseases.
A clinical trial found that patients who took probiotics after bariatric (weight-loss) surgery had significantly greater weight loss than those who did not take these supplements.
What Probiotic Supplements help lose weight loss and belly fat
In selecting a probiotic you don’t want to go for the cheapest brands because they either contain hidden sugars or a poor variety of good bacteria. High quality supplements do not contain sugar and contain higher stands of probiotics in multiples of 10billion CFU (Colony Forming Units).
A regular healthy intake will range from 20Billion to 50 Billion CFUs. Also a healthy diet is the best complement to taking a probiotic, foods that are rich in prebiotics such as high fibre foods, leafy greens, vegetables as well as fermented foods such as Kimchi, keffer, and no sugar yoghurt. This is just as important as taking the supplement.
Although all these research are still in the preliminary stage, the most prominent promise of weight loss using probiotics is found in lactobacillus gasseri. Also as with any weight loss process, does not show rapid results within a short time. Its effect can be seen overtime.
You can’t go wrong by taking a good probiotic supplement. Besides possibly facilitating weight loss, these supplements also help prevent pathological bacterial overgrowth, improve digestion and elimination and boost immune function.