Probiotics May Help Boost Fat Loss
Most of us have heard of probiotics (or beneficial bacteria) for digestive health. In fact, certain yogurts are marketed as digestive “helpers” thanks to the probiotic strains they contain. But the benefits of probiotics are much more far-reaching than just keeping your digestive system on track.
In fact, having a healthy population of friendly bacteria in your system also helps boost your immunity and keep you healthy overall—which is especially important as we enter what’s predicted to be a particularly bad flu season.
In this study, researchers recruited 28 healthy, but overweight, individuals. The participants were randomly selected to eat yogurt that contained either the bacteria strain Lactobacillus amylovorus (LA) or Lactobacillus fermentum (LF), or a control (yogurt with no additional probiotic strains) for six weeks.
At the end of the study period, researchers noted that all the participants showed a reduction in body fat mass, but the greatest reduction was seen in those who at the yogurt with the LA strains. In fact, the people in the LA strain group experienced a 4 percent body fat loss, while the people in the LF group saw a 3 percent body fat loss. In comparison, the control group had a 1 percent loss in body fat.
They concluded that the modulation of potentially harmful bacteria in the gut by these beneficial bacteria “may contribute to altered energy metabolism and body composition.”
Pass the Probiotics, Please!
Unfortunately, the strains of friendly bacteria used in this study are not readily found in most store-bought yogurts. But don’t let that discourage you. This study is not the first to show an association between various strains of friendly bacteria in the gut and the reduction of fat and weight loss.2
If you choose to get your daily dose of probiotics through yogurt, opt for plain, unflavored yogurt over the highly sweetened varieties. Add your own fresh fruit to the yogurt to increase flavor and nutrition. Or, if you prefer, you can take a probiotic supplement, which you can find at any health food store or vitamin retailer.
Whichever delivery system you choose, by adding these good bugs to your system, you’re ensuring good digestive support, increased immunity, and possibly even a smaller waistband over time.
- Omar JM, et al. Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons. Journal of Functional Foods, available online 9 Oct 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2012.09.001
- Ley RE, et al. Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature. 2006 Dec 21;444(7122):1022-3.
Larissa Long has worked in the health care communications field for more than 13 years. She co-authored a self-care book titled Taking Care, has written countless tip sheets and e-letters on health topics, and contributed several articles to Natural Solutions magazine. She also served as managing editor of three alternative health and lifestyle newsletters — Dr. Susan Lark’s Women’s Wellness Today, Dr. David Williams’ Alternatives, and Janet Luhrs’ Simple Living.
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