Could a probiotic slim your waistline? A growing amount of scientific evidence suggests that’s possible. In addition to helping boost your digestive health, probiotics, or beneficial bacteria and yeasts, could help you shed some pounds.
The Important Role of Probiotics in Gut Health
The gastrointestinal tract, or “gut,” is home to billions and billions of microbes. This area, which includes the small and large intestines and the stomach, is a battleground. The combatants are “good” microbes and “bad” ones. It’s critical that we maintain a proper balance between the two, or else we could be at risk for a variety of different health problems. These range from relatively mild (bloating and diarrhea) to potentially severe (irritable bowel syndrome, a weakened immune system and more).
One of the most important functions performed by good microbes is the breaking down of substances that we wouldn’t be able to digest on their own. One of these substances is known as butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid. Butyrate helps nourish the cells that make up the lining of the small and large intestines. It helps strengthen the lining, making it extremely hard for pathogenic, or harmful, bacteria and viruses from getting into the digestive tract.1
Good microbes also aid our digestive system by helping us do an efficient job of absorbing nutrients. This includes vitamin K, a vital substance that makes sure our blood clots properly.
So How Do Probiotics Slim the Waist?
It’s not exactly clear how can a probiotic slim your waistline. One train of thought is that certain probiotics block the amount of fat that we absorb from food. This, in turn, increases the fat that we eliminate through feces. 2A group of bacteria known as Lactobacillus may lower the amount of calories that we accumulate from the food we eat.3
Another possible way that a probiotic can slim us down involves a hormone known as GLP-1. Researchers believe that the more GLP-1 we have, the more efficient a job we will do of burning calories and fat.4 Studies also indicate that probiotic use can increase the amount of a protein known as ANGPTL4. This protein plays a vital role in burning fat.5
One of the main contributing factors to obesity, some scientists believe, is inflammation in the brain.6 Probiotics have been shown to lower inflammation, thus possibly helping lower the risk of someone becoming obese.7 Again, however, research into the connection between probiotics and weight loss is in its very early stages. Many more studies need to be performed before a definitive link can be established.
The Importance of the Lactobacillus Family of Bacteria
While there are several different types of bacteria that are associated with health benefits, one group in particular may have a significant effect on weight loss. As mentioned earlier, various strains of Lactobacillus bacteria have been shown to help. In one study, people ate yogurt containing Lactobacillus amylovorus and Lactobacillus fermentum for six weeks. Researchers conducting the study found that the participants lost an average of between 3 and 4 percent body fat.8
Another study involved an analysis of whether or not the Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain could be a probiotic to slim the waist. Two groups of overweight women who were dieting at the time participated in the study. One group received a placebo, while the other received the probiotic. According to the results, the women who used the probiotic lost an average of 50 percent more weight than those who used the placebo.9
While studies suggest that you can use a probiotic to slim down, there’s also evidence you can use probiotics to keep from gaining weight in the first place. Researchers looked at how probiotics work with a high-calorie diet. Participants ate more than 1,000 calories a day and were given a probiotic supplement each day for a month. According to the results, the participants dropped pounds and also saw a substantial reduction in their body fat percentages.10
A Safe, Common Sense Approach to Weight Loss
While it appears that you may be able to use a probiotic to slim down, it’s very important to note that you still need to follow the tried-and-true methods of sustainable weight loss. You have to watch what you eat and you also need to exercise on a regular basis. Probiotics can help, but they’re not magic diet pills.
And please talk to your doctor before taking any type of probiotic or starting any sort of weight loss program to stay on the safe side.