By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 20 May 2014)
New evidence suggests that probiotics may aid weight loss. A study of 125 overweight people found that a 24-week probiotic regimen (two pills daily) triggered significant weight loss compared to a placebo, but only for the women (the researchers have suggested that the dose may have been too low for the men or they may have needed a longer supplementation program).
Why might probiotics help with weight loss? Prior studies have shown that obese people have different gut bacteria profiles than slimmer individuals. It’s possible that probiotics change the intestinal wall’s permeability so that pro-inflammatory molecules don’t enter the bloodstream, triggering a chain reaction that eventually causes obesity and related problems such as glucose intolerance and diabetes.
There is also some evidence that probiotic supplementation may help reduce sugar or starch cravings for some people. Cravings can be triggered by the presence of a yeast called candida albicans in the intestines. Common triggers for candida overgrowth include eating too much sugar and too many simple carbohydrates (products made with refined white flour rather than whole grains) and taking antibiotics.
Some experts also claim a link between stress and cravings, and recent research suggests that taking probiotic supplements may reduce stress and anxiety.
Given that probiotics are considered safe for most people and side effects are rare, they may be a diet supplement worth trying. However, probiotics may pose risks for people with certain health problems or compromised immune systems, so checking with a doctor before taking supplements is recommended. Also, probiotics may help with weight loss, but they are unlikely to trigger weight loss on their own. Those who want to shed pounds must also eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet will increase the benefits associated with probiotic supplementation or consumption of probiotic foods. Also, eating foods such as whole grains, garlic, onions, leeks bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, honey, dandelion greens, chicory root, asparagus, tomatoes, buttermilk, yogurt, and kefir can help to maintain a healthy population of good gut bacteria because these foods (which are known as prebiotic sources) provide fuel for beneficial bacteria. You can also tip the balance toward healthy bacteria in the gut by avoiding sugary and starchy processed foods and simple carbohydrates (choose whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables instead).
For more on weight loss, see Green Tea Aids Weight Loss, Why Most Dieters Fail, 10 Nutrition and Weight Loss Myths and Facts, and How Strength Training for Weight Loss.
This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice from a qualified doctor. Health concerns should be referred to an appropriate professional.
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