A recent study has some encouraging news when it comes to the use of probiotics and weight loss. The research is still in its infancy, but it is stimulating an important look into the relationship between weight and gut health.
Previous research has linked obesity and diabetes to imbalances in the microbiome, which is made up of trillions of bacteria living in the gut. What we eat directly impacts our bacterial communities for better or worse and probiotics (the good bacteria) are often used to support and balance beneficial bacteria colonies.
The current research from Virginia Tech studied 20 healthy men who went on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for four weeks. Some subjects were then given a milkshake with a specific probiotic containing strains of bacteria including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum. Other subjects received a placebo milkshake. Researchers found that the men who consumed the probiotic milkshake had a lower body mass gain and fat accumulation than those who didn’t.
Another small study published in a 2014 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found that overweight women consuming daily probiotics lost more weight than women taking a placebo. However, the men in the study did not experience the same results.
Obviously these are small studies and further research is necessary. But scientists are already speculating about these results. Some have suggested that since overeating can quickly change the microbiome communities, it’s harder for the body to absorb important nutrients. Therefore, it’s possible that the probiotics help alter the gut bacteria in a way that positively influenced this system and therefore led to less body fat accumulation. Others have suggested that probiotics may reduce lipid absorption and increase energy expenditure.
Probiotics offer many other health benefits including improved stomach sensitivity and digestion as well as increased energy levels and improved mood. So if you’re looking to lose a few pounds and improve your overall health and wellbeing, it might be worth it to give probiotics a try.