Fitness & Fat Loss

Probiotics And Weight Management: What Are The Benefits?

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Probiotics are live microorganisms and yeasts that are good for your health.[1] They are also referred to as good, beneficial/healthy bacteria, gut microbiota, as well as intestinal (or gut) flora. They are naturally found in your body and play an important role in maintaining intestinal and overall health. But can they also aid in weight management?

By weight management isn’t necessarily about weight loss. It is about attaining and maintaining a healthy weight for your age, gender, and body type.

However, more people who have a weight problem need to lose than need to gain or simply maintain a healthy weight. This is the reason that this article may read as though it is about the benefits probiotics for weight loss.

Probiotics: What Are They And What Do They Do?

As mentioned earlier, probiotics are healthy bacteria that play an important role in your health. They are naturally found in the gastrointestinal tract, which holds over 500 species. These healthy microbes have supply a number of health benefits including:

  • Promote a healthy digestive tract.[2]
  • Support your immune sytem and help fight flu and cold symptoms.
  • May be beneficial for improving brain function.[3]
  • May delay the development of allergies in children.[4]
  • May help weight management. More on this shortly.

Healthy bacteria also used to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea following an antibiotic(s) treatment. Probiotics also help make and absorb certain vitamins, and help kill or deactivate harmful bacteria.[5]

Some therapeutic uses of these beneficial microbes include treatment of yeast infections, urinary tract infections, as well as treatment of post-antibiotics diarrhea.

The Role Of Prebiotics

Being live microbes, or live cultures, probiotics require nourishment to remain healthy and alive. This is where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.[6]

In other words, prebiotics provide nutrition to probiotics. Without prebiotics, probiotics would not survive or would be significantly weakened.

This is why it is recommended that you should get both prebiotics and probiotics.

Types Of Healthy Bacteria

Probiotics come in many forms, offering different benefits. However, two types are considered important. These are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Probiotics And Management Link: What The Studies Say

So, what have healthy gut bacteria got to do with weight loss (or management)? As it turns out, quite a bit. For one, gut flora may influence body weight as they play an integral role in regulating insulin and controlling appetite.

Recent studies established the role of probiotics and prebiotics in weight management with possible mechanisms of improved microbial balance, decreased food intake, decreased abdominal adiposity and increased mucosal integrity with decreased inflammatory tone.[7]

Probiotics and prebiotics may also play an important role in the management of metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes that may be brought on by excessive weight.

Studies suggest that these healthy bacteria may also help increase metabolism and weight loss.[8] Researchers have also found that that Overweight people harbor different types and amounts of gut bacteria than lean people.[9]

According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, a type of probiotics known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus could help women lose weight and keep it off.[10]

A study to examine therapeutic bacteria’s ability to prevent obesity was done at Vanderbilt University. The results indicated that probiotics may inhibit weight gain, insulin resistance and other adverse effects.[11] Insulin resistance has been linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, as well as difficulty in losing weight.

What’s The Best Way To Get Probiotics?

In order to obtain maximum benefits from probiotics, these healthy microbes must survive the hostile environment of the gastrointestinal tract. Remember that these are live cultures. And, as such they can get weak and they can (and do) die.

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and cheese are good sources of probiotics, but they have one weakness. The probiotics they provide are transient and do not colonize the gut, something that is required for maximum benefit. Therefore a high-quality supplement may be advantageous.

So, what makes a high quality probiotic supplement? Basically, the product should provide you with adequate amounts of intact healthy bacteria. This means that:

  • The cultures must be kept alive.
  • They should be kept healthy through nourishment.
  • They should be able to survive the harsh environment of the gut.

A high-quality probiotics product should therefore contain prebiotics to support the probiotics, as well as being able guard against things like digestive juices, temperature, and the natural aging process. This is what will offer maximum health benefits including weight management and digestive health.


References:

[1] WebMD: What Are Probiotics?

[2] MedicineNet: Probiotics

[3] MNT: What are probiotics?

[4] Harvard Health: Health benefits of taking probiotics

[5] New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, & Herbs, by Nicola Reavley

[6] Wikipedia: Prebiotic (nutrition)

[7] PMC: Management of metabolic syndrome through probiotic and prebiotic interventions

[8] The Juice Lady’s Weekend Weight-Loss Diet By Cherie Calbom

[9] Huffington Post: Gut Bacteria Could Help Fight Obesity

[10] British Journal of Nutrition

[11] Vanderbilt: Study examines therapeutic bacteria’s ability to prevent obesity

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