Probiotics have been receiving a lot of attention in recent years for managing digestive problems and improving immunity, but there are also studies suggesting their role in promoting weight loss. Probiotics, which are "good bacteria," offer numerous health benefits and they could be a powerful tool in the obesity epidemic.
Probiotics and Weight Loss
Researchers have found probiotics affect the way calories are digested. For anyone trying to lose weight and fight obesity, probiotics can facilitate proper digestion and improve energy use so fewer calories turn into fat.
Recent scientific studies have shown the relationship between gut bacteria and metabolism. Everyone has different types and levels of gut microbes in their digestive tracts. According to a study published in the medical journal Molecular Systems Biology, some types of microbes are linked to disorders including obesity and diabetes. By adding "friendly" bacteria (probiotics) to the gut, these beneficial bacteria can improve digestive function and amplify the effects of other beneficial gut bacteria.
At the same time, "friendly" bacteria added to the gut changes the way bile acids are metabolized. The primary function of bile acids, which are produced in the liver, is to emulsify fats in the gut. By adding probiotics to the system, the amount of fat the body is able to absorb is altered, which can help in reducing the development of body fat.
In particular, people with a large proportion of Firmicutes phylum, a form of gut flora, in their digestive tracts run a greater risk of becoming obese. The gut flora Firmicutes phylum can cause higher absorption of calories that would otherwise go undigested without this type of gut bacteria. People who are leaner tend to have a significantly smaller portion of this type of gut flora. Probiotics can help restore gut flora balance so these bacteria play a less significant role in the digestive process and, therefore, fewer calories are absorbed into the body. In other words, the composition of the types of bacteria in one’s gut can play a role in how much weight is gained, and probiotics assist in creating a healthier balance that leads to improved weight management.
However, additional weight loss efforts are required -- probiotics alone will not cause weight loss. A comprehensive approach that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise and probiotic supplements is a reliable formula for optimum weight loss.
Probiotics and Obesity-Related Illnesses
The microflora (bacteria) content of the digestive tract can cause a person to be more or less at risk for metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Probiotics help people restore advantageous gut microflora in order to improve many aspects of their health. With balanced gut flora, the body’s immune system dramatically improves and is better able to produce necessary nutrients, in addition to other beneficial substances.
The majority of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Being overweight can lead to cellular changes within the body that cause the cells to become resistant to insulin. Bacterial populations within the intestinal tract also become unbalanced. To assist in balancing healthy blood sugar levels, it's important to restore balanced gut bacteria with probiotics.
Obesity is also linked to problems such as high blood cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, gout, osteoarthritis, gallstones and congestive heart failure. A growing number of people suffer from obesity these days due to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. In addition to lifestyle changes over the years, the growing use of antibiotics has made it increasingly difficult for people to preserve a healthy balance of beneficial gut microflora. When these factors are combined, one’s overall health can be significantly compromised. By restoring the gut microflora with probiotics, the risk for a number of illnesses can be significantly reduced.
Developing Healthy Habits
Probiotics can be added to the diet in a number of ways -- they can be consumed via probiotic supplements or through foods such as yogurt or miso soup. With such a variety of probiotics available on the market, it's not hard to find one to fit any lifestyle. Adding probiotics is just one step in creating a healthier lifestyle to lose weight.
When the types of bacteria in the digestive tract are out of balance, most people experience a considerable amount of discomfort and are more susceptible to a wide variety of health problems including obesity and obesity-related illnesses. To effectively lose weight and to keep it off, it's important to take a well-rounded approach that includes restoring the health of the digestive tract with probiotics, eating a healthy diet and practicing regular exercise.