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Do probiotics support weight-loss?

There have been claims that probiotics support weigh-loss and weight management, but is this really the case?


What are probiotics?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that provide many health benefits when eaten. Probiotics are found in both supplements and various types of fermented foods. Probiotics may improve your immune function, digestive health and even your heart health.


Hundreds of microorganisms live in our digestive system. The majority of these are "friendly" bacteria that produce several important nutrients including vitamin K and certain B vitamins. They also help break down fibre, which your body can’t easily digest.


There are two main families of 'good' bacteria in the gut: bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Research suggests that body weight seems to be related to the balance of these two families of bacteria.


How probiotics can support weight-management.

Both human and animal studies have found that moderate-weight people have different gut bacteria than those who are more over-weight. In the majority of these studies, people who are over-weight had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes. (It should be noted that, studies have failed to find a connection between the firmicutes-to-bacteroidetes ratio and being over-weight.)


The research found that people who are over-weight tend to have less diverse range of 'good' gut bacteria. Some animal studies have even shown that when gut bacteria from over-weight mice were transplanted into the guts of lean mice, the lean mice started to gain weight. Thus, a healthy gut, with a diverse range of bacteria, will help to support weight-management.


Sadly, studies have failed to understand fully why probiotics affect body-weight. However, it is clear that a range of 'good' bacteria supports the digestive processes and helps to positively affect appetite. Certain bacteria, such as those from the lactobacillus family, have been found to function in a way that harvests fewer calories and limits the absorption of dietary fat.


What can be concluded is, a wide variety of good bacteria in our guts will support a healthy digestive process leading to better weight-management and overall health.


Sources of probiotics:

  • Natural yogurt This is a wonderful source of probiotics.

  • Kefir This is a fermented probiotic milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to cow’s or goat’s milk.

  • Sauerkraut This is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries, especially in Eastern Europe.

  • Miso This is a Japanese seasoning. It is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji.

  • Pickles Sometimes known as gherkins, are cucumbers that have been preserved in a solution of salt and water.

  • Some types of cheese Although most types of cheese are fermented, it does not mean that all of them contain probiotics. Look for the words “live cultures” or “active cultures” on the label.

  • Supplements When eaten with food, probiotic supplements provide the body with good bacteria.







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