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Do Probiotics Actually Help with Weight Loss?

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Fad diets and new weight loss supplements are continually entering the market, and it can be difficult to sort fact from fiction. If you’ve been struggling to find a way to drop those stubborn pounds, chances are that you have come across information pointing to  probiotics and weight loss.

There is scientific evidence to back up the  health benefits of probiotics for the body, but new studies are taking the claims of this dietary supplement a step further. Research has now shown that there is a relationship between specific  strains of “good” bacteria and greater success of weight loss, especially in women.

To understand the relationship between probiotics and weight loss, you first have to understand how the bacteria in our digestive tract affects our health.

Weight Gain and a Bad Gut

The human intestinal tract is filled with bacteria, both good and bad. The good bacteria is essential to the proper functioning of our digestive system and plays a large role in the strength of our body’s immune response. In fact, several studies have proven the correlation between healthy gut bacteria and the effectiveness of the immune system.

These studies found that those who struggle with obesity tend to have an unbalanced and less diverse population of intestinal flora. There are several factors that contribute to this, including genetics, the overuse of antibiotics, and a less than ideal diet.

How does this lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut affect your weight? New research shows that specific good bacteria in the gut plays a significant role in appetite control and the functioning of the digestive system. Without a healthy digestive tract, the body cannot effectively absorb nutrients, leading to the creation of fat and weight gain.

Studies focused on the relationship between  probiotics and weight loss are based on this difference in people’s intestinal flora. Through their research, scientists attempted to determine whether balancing the microbacteria in the gut could assist with losing weight.

The Science of Probiotics

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In 2014, a study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition that showed compelling evidence to support the theory of probiotics and weight loss. The study focused on 125 overweight men and women, who were given either a probiotic supplement or placebo twice a day for 24 weeks.

The results of the research were intriguing. Over the course of this study, women who were taking the probiotic averaged twice as much weight loss as those who were taking the placebo. Interestingly enough, the probiotic did not have any measurable effect on the male study participants. Not only did these women lose weight, they also experienced a reduction in obesity-linked gut bacteria and circulating leptin concentrations.

A second recent study conducted in Japan showed similar effects of probiotics on weight loss. In this study, 210 participants were given food supplements with high concentrations of the good bacteria strain, Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055, and they were then followed for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, participants experienced a significant decrease in visceral and belly fat.

The Benefits of Probiotics

So what does this mean for the average person looking to lose a few extra pounds? The answer depends on several factors. While research is beginning to paint a picture of a clear link between probiotics and weight loss, there have also been contradictory or inconclusive studies conducted by independent researchers. Additionally, the specific strain of bacteria used in the Japanese study is not readily available in the American market.

What we do know is that the balance of your digestive system’s microorganisms is essential to supporting the health of your entire body. In addition to the weight loss claims, probiotics have been shown to have many additional benefits, including:

●Digestive balance after antibiotics

●Treatment of intestinal disorders, such as IBS

●Reducing permeability and inflammation in the intestinal wall

●Improvement in skin conditions, such as eczema

●Increased oral health

●More effective immune response

●Urinary and vaginal health

While the jury is still out on the conclusive nature of probiotics and weight loss, there are clear benefits to supplementing your body’s digestive flora. With regular use, quality probiotic supplements are known to improve several key areas of your overall health, and as a result, may even help you shed those unwanted pounds.


REFERENCES:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9212991&fileId=S0007114513003875

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/probiotics-lose-weight/story?id=19607875

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/probiotics-women-weight-loss-study-article-1.1596936

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/

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