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Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are believed to have many health benefits. Recent research suggests that these health supplements may also help obese and overweight people to lose weight.

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are normally found in the body, especially in the digestive tract. People usually think of bacteria as harmful to the body, but in reality, our bodies harbor millions of good bacteria, called probiotics, which help keep us healthy. We also have some amount of potentially harmful microorganisms in the body, especially in the mouth, anus, genitals, and skin. However, their harmful effects are controlled by the presence of the good bacteria, which prevent the harmful bacteria from multiplying.

Thus, probiotics help prevent infections and boost immune system function.

Aside from these, good bacteria are also known to help reduce digestive problems as well as allergic reactions.

Recent Studies on Probiotics and Weight Loss

Recent research suggests that probiotics may play a role in helping overweight and obese people to lose weight. One study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that participants who took varying doses of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055, a strain of probiotics, lost up to 9% of visceral fat (fat hidden in the organs in the abdomen and around the heart). Researcher Yukio Kadooka, who works with the Japanese Snow Brand Company explained that probiotics may lower intestinal inflammation and aid digestion, which could reduce the buildup of body fat.

Another study, this time involving laboratory animals, found that certain strains of friendly bacteria, which produce a specific compound in the gut of obese mice, can prevent weight gain and insulin resistance. The study was conducted by researchers from the Vanderbilt University and was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. It found that a genetically modified strain of E. coli Nissle 1917 leads to their production of a substance called NAPE, which could reverse the adverse effects of a high-fat diet.

New research also suggests that regular consumption of foods that contain probiotics such as yogurt can help speed up weight loss in women.

The study, which was conducted by scientists from Nestlé's research lab and the Université Laval in Quebec, found that obese women who consume probiotics could lose up to twice as much weight as women who do not add these food products in their diet. The study, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, involved men and women who were asked to take either probiotic pills or placebo daily for 24 weeks. The impact of probiotics on weight loss was observed only in women, and not in the male participants. The researchers found that those who took probiotics had a significant reduction in hormone levels of leptin, which regulates appetite, as well as a drop in the amount of intestinal bacteria linked to obesity. The authors, who based their study on the belief that the intestinal flora (bacteria) of obese individuals differ from those found in thin people, think that probiotics may help reset the gut's balance of microorganisms. A diet that is high in fat and low in fiber may promote a decline in the number of good bacteria, but with the consumption of probiotics, a balance in gut bacteria may be restored.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • WebMD. What are Probiotics? http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics
  • ABC News. Can Probiotics Help You Lose Weight? http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/probiotics-lose-weight/story?id=19607875
  • ScienceDaily. Therapeutic bacteria prevent obesity in mice, study finds. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140722142521.htm
  • NY Daily News. Probiotics can help women with weight loss: study. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/probiotics-women-weight-loss-study-article-1.1596936
  • WebMD. The Best Ways to Use Probiotics. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/best-probiotics-use?page=2
  • WebMD. 5 things you should know about probiotic products. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/answers-to-your-questions-about-probiotics
  • Photo courtesy of Ukko-wc by Wikimedia Commons : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buttermilk#mediaviewer/File:Buttermilk-(right)-and-Milk-(left).jpg
  • Photo courtesy of whinger by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/victoriachan/5941343858
  • www.webmd.com
  • www.nydailynews.com
  • www.abcnews.go.com

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