You've tried everything: doing a lot of exercise, diets of all kinds like keto or Whole30, lemon juice in the morning, ephedrine supplements right after waking up ... but nothing has worked as you expected. For a few months you have heard that probiotics can help you lose weight, especially the abdominal area, is it a new trend without sense or does it really work?
As recognized by the WHO, various scientific studies suggest that "probiotics play an important role in immune, digestive and respiratory functions, and that they could have a significant effect in alleviating infectious diseases in children and other high risk groups".
Also certain studies suggest that the use of lactobacilli and probiotic metabolic by-products could be beneficial for the heart and even serve as prevention and therapy of various ischemic heart disease syndromes. The importance of the microbiota is being investigated daily. Thousands of scientists study its effects, ranging from something as simple as a good intestinal transit to the prevention of metabolic or even neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. And not only this, now also to lose weight.
Probiotics: Their Relationship With Weight Loss And The Proper Functioning Of The Body
The "intestinal microbiota" is the population of microorganisms that inhabit our intestines and help us assimilate the nutrients we ingest. These microorganisms are located, for the most part, in the distal portion of the digestive tract and the colon, the most abundant being: Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus and Sacharomyces, among others. Thus, each person has a unique intestinal microbiota, with great variability in its composition.
At birth, the intestine is sterile and it is at this time that it begins to be colonized by different microorganisms. These microorganisms will be influenced by factors such as: the form of birth (vaginal delivery vs cesarean section), type of feeding (breastfeeding vs artificial feeding), gestation time and birth weight (normal vs low weight and / or prematurity), conditions of the environment and lifestyle. It will be between 2 and 3 years of age when the intestinal microbiota will reach full development in its constitution, remaining stable in childhood and adulthood, when reaching an adequate diversity and balance (eubiosis).
How Does Intestinal Microbiota Help Us?
Among the main recognized actions, its ability to intervene in the development and functioning of the immune, endocrine and nervous systems stands out.
There are unfavorable circumstances that can cause an imbalance in the intestinal flora (dysbiosis), leading to the development of different pathologies such as: allergic and autoimmune diseases (psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease), metabolic (obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus), and other.
Some of the factors that can produce alterations in the composition of the intestinal microbiota are: treatment with antibiotics, acute infectious diseases or trips abroad with changes in daily routine.
One measure to preserve our intestinal microbiota is the use of prebiotic foods and supplementation with probiotics, since they have been shown to play an important role: they favor a good composition of the intestinal flora and can modulate appetite, adjusting weight and distribution. of body fat. It has been established that obese patients have a different composition of their intestinal bacteria than people who have and maintain an adequate weight.
What Are Prebiotics?
They are substances in the diet that nourish groups of microorganisms that inhabit the intestine, favoring the growth of beneficial bacteria for health. Prebiotics are present in some foods such as artichokes, chicory, leeks, onions, garlic and bananas, among others.
Thanks to their ability to promote the development of beneficial bacteria, they are considered an appropriate supplement to improve intestinal flora.
The benefits of prebiotic foods are:
- They stimulate the immune system.
- They promote the development of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal flora and hinder the growth of pathogens.
- They facilitate the absorption of some minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
- They favor the synthesis of certain vitamins.
- They reduce digestive disorders, helping to maintain intestinal balance.
- They improve intestinal regularity, reducing episodes of constipation.
- They reduce the risk of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
What Are Probiotics?
They are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer benefits for the health of the person. They become part of the intestinal microbiota of each individual. Probiotics stimulate the protective functions of the digestive system, are also known as bioprotectors and are used to prevent gastrointestinal infections. They are found in some foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
The benefits of probiotic foods are:
- They help fight respiratory infections and reduce allergic responses.
- They synthesize and improve the availability of nutrients.
- They increase the body's defenses, strengthening the immune system.
- They help fight diarrhea associated with the use of certain antibiotics.
- They help improve symptoms in inflammatory bowel diseases.
- They improve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
- They can help inhibit the growth of salmonella and Heliobacter pylori in the gastrointestinal tract.
The composition of the intestinal flora can be modified by the intake of foods supplemented with prebiotics, probiotics or both (symbiotics).
There is increasing evidence that the intestinal microbiota has a great impact on the nutritional status and health of people, since it is capable of optimizing the absorption of nutrients and energy metabolism. The findings indicate that modulating the composition of the gut microbiota could be useful as a strategy to treat and prevent obesity and metabolic disorders.
Remember, the good state of the microbiota is considered one of the new factors that contribute to health, along with a correct diet, sufficient rest and the performance of activity.
The Probiotic That Helps "Melt" Excess Fat
You probably know some of those people who eat for four and do not have an extra gram, while others, less fortunate, store every calorie they ingest directly in the abdomen, hips or buttocks and have difficulty losing weight.
If you belong to this second category, if you are one of those who have already tried everything and cannot lose weight, please read the following. You will learn how it is possible to somehow solve this “injustice”, without effort and without having to follow a restrictive diet.
And it is that, in reality, everything has to do with the intestinal flora. What happens in your intestines is closely related to your weight and, more importantly, your overall health.
The Quality Of Your Intestinal Flora Affects Your Weight
To understand the central role played by the gut flora, you must keep in mind that your intestines naturally contain around 100 trillion bacteria (no less than 14 zeros). To get an idea of its magnitude, consider that it is ten times the number of cells in the whole body.
This huge population of bacteria is divided into more than 500 different species, which form what is known as the gut microbiota (or gut flora). They make up an army of billions of microorganisms that populate your intestine and that, day and night, protect it, clean it and prevent harmful bacteria and yeasts from growing and removing their site.
Each species is specifically dedicated to certain functions. Thus, for example, the well-known Lactobacillus casei (or L. casei) plays a key role in immunity. The role of another of these species, Lactobacillus gasseri (or L. gasseri) is decisive for weight control, as researchers have.
Thus, thanks to observations made in people who are overweight or obese, researchers have discovered that some bacteria can cause latent inflammation that contributes to weight gain. In a study it was observed that the intestinal flora of obese people has 20% more bacteria called firmicutes than that of thin people.
Firmicutes cause the body to extract calories from complex sugars and store them as fat. In an animal study, when these bacteria were transplanted into normal-weight mice, they began to gain twice as much fat.
In another study carried out in humans, overweight people were made to drink a fermented milk drink enriched with probiotics, beneficial bacteria that rebalance the intestinal flora. The result was that the simple act of drinking this drink (without doing anything else) allowed them to reduce abdominal fat by almost 5% and subcutaneous fat by more than 3% after 12 weeks.
As you can see, the intestinal flora can play a key role in our weight. But that's not all, because it is also essential in supporting the immune system, which is itself the first line of defense against all diseases.
Essential To Defend Your Immunity
A healthy intestinal flora helps to keep bad bacteria under control and to protect against the growth of other microorganisms that could cause diseases (viruses, yeasts, fungi).
If you have an excess of harmful bacteria in your gut this can manifest itself in a number of ways, such as gas and bloating, fatigue, sugar cravings, nausea, headache, constipation or diarrhea. Even if you eat a healthy diet and even get regular physical activity, you may also have trouble controlling your weight.
And is that the intestinal flora plays a key role in supporting many functions of the body, such as digestion and absorption of some carbohydrates, the production of vitamins and minerals and the elimination of toxins.
Therefore, it is imperative to take care of maintaining a good intestinal flora to protect against diseases and to more easily maintain an optimal weight.
The Fragile Balance Of The Intestinal Flora
The intestinal flora is inherited from the mother. Before birth, the digestive tract is sterile, but upon leaving the mother's womb, the mother's vaginal flora populates her intestine. Later, breast milk provides other essential probiotic bacteria, such as L. gasseri.
Today, caesarean sections and bottles of pasteurized milk often mean that it is not the mother who guarantees this early population. With cesarean section, the colonization stage through the vaginal flora is skipped and, if the newborn is not breastfed, he also does not get those good maternal bacteria that should populate his intestine.
In the end, it is the aggressive bacteria in hospitals or the stale air of our cities that do the job. This helps to better understand the arrival of new generations of fragile, allergic and asthmatic children.
Although the quality of the intestinal flora is largely defined from the first days of its life, it is something alive and that evolves according to the nutrition, diseases and, of course, the medications that a person takes throughout of their life.
If you eat a lot of processed foods, for example, your gut bacteria will be compromised because these foods destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast. Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to antibiotics, chlorinated water, antibacterial soaps, agricultural chemicals and, in general, all forms of contamination.
In part because of this exposure to pollutants, which we all face, nutritionists recommend “re-seeding” the gut with good bacteria, which can be done by consuming fermented foods and also taking a probiotic supplement.
Feeding Tips To Optimize Your Intestinal Flora
Fermented foods (such as yogurt and sauerkraut) have long been used by people to improve their digestive health, as these foods are naturally rich in beneficial bacteria. So incorporating them into your diet is a good way to optimize your digestive health, as long as these foods are naturally fermented (and therefore not pasteurized, as pasteurization kills natural probiotics). If you regularly eat fermented foods, your gut bacteria will thrive.
Another good recommendation is to provide foods rich in fiber, since some of them (olysaccharides) have a prebiotic effect, that is, they are used as a substrate for the development and proliferation of good bacteria in your intestine.
If you don't eat these foods regularly, or if you've recently taken antibiotics, a probiotic supplement will help give your gut health the boost it needs.
Probiotics are a variety of good bacteria that colonize the oral, intestinal and vaginal flora. They are known for their beneficial effects on the immune system and for strengthening natural defenses.
The best known probiotics are lactic acid bacteria, which have been used for thousands of years to preserve food by fermentation (vegetables, cereals, meats, etc.). They are also used in the production of yogurt.
Among these lactic acid bacteria, there is a particularly interesting one, which is Lactobacillus gasseri that I mentioned before, an essential probiotic for the balance of the intestinal flora and also for weight control.
The probiotic L. gasseri was originally installed in the body largely through the first contact and physiological exchange between mother and child at birth, as we have seen. But as adults it is possible to sow the intestinal flora with L. gasseri.
At first, properties of L. gasseri were discovered that strengthened the immune system, a benefit that it shares with other bacteria of the Lactobacillus family. But what makes this probiotic special is its unusual ability to help people lose weight, especially around the abdomen.
Do Probiotics Help You Lose Weight?
Some people think that probiotic foods and supplements help you lose weight as if by magic. What do the specialists say?
According to Kahan, many studies have found a relationship between the presence of good bacteria and having a healthy weight. "In general, heavier patients tend to have more presence of less healthy bacteria and less presence of good bacteria," he says. Lean people also have a greater variety of good bacteria, which probably indicates the importance of having diversity in our intestines to maintain a healthy weight.
But we still don't have enough evidence to say that taking probiotics can help you lose weight, partially because a complicated factor comes into play: we can't say whether people with good intestinal bacteria produce them organically or are the result of subsistence allowance.
"When taking bacteria into account, you have to look at both sides of the equation: One includes the bacteria in your gut and the other has to do with the bacteria in your food sources," says Doerfler. Also, according to Kahan, most of the studies that have focused on the relationship between gut bacteria and weight loss have used animals and not humans.
Some nutrition and health experts have suggested focusing less on probiotics and more on prebiotics, the fiber compounds that feed healthy gut bacteria. Among the sources of prebiotics we find fruit, vegetables and oats. Basically everything your mother wants you to eat. They are low calorie foods so they are beneficial for our waists and for the general health of our intestines.
"Typically, people who weigh less follow plant-based diets, which are good for weight loss and have the benefit of growing good bacteria," says Doerfler.
Additionally, according to Doerfler, researchers believe that high-fiber foods produce fatty acids in our bodies, which are believed to increase levels of GLP 1, a hormone found in the intestines. The more GLP-1 we have, Kahan explains, the less hungry we feel.
Is There A Probiotic Supplement That Works For Weight Loss?
Probiotic supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which translates into poor quality control over those that are released on the market. On the contrary, the two experts agree that maintaining a stable diet is the best way to lose weight and keep your intestines healthy.
Taking probiotic supplements probably won't hurt you, but chances are they're not going to help you undergo a miraculous weight-loss transformation.
The "Trigger" To Lose Excess Weight
In 2010, Japanese researchers conducted a study that aimed to examine the effects of the probiotics Lactobacillus gasseri on obesity.
The multicenter clinical trial was conducted in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized manner, on 87 subjects with significant excess abdominal fat. After 12 weeks, subjects supplemented with L. gasseri lost an average of 4.6% of abdominal fat and 3.3% of subcutaneous fat. His weight was reduced by 1.4% and his waist circumference by 1.8%. This human study confirmed the results of a previous trial that had demonstrated the efficacy of L. gasseri in reducing fat levels in animals.
These results are explained by the ability of L. gasseri to make the barrier of the intestinal mucosa more impermeable and impenetrable. Therefore, harmful substances cannot freely enter the blood. The L. gasseri can also change the chemical signals of the digestive system, modifying the treatment of fat in the body.
When it comes to the weight loss that is made possible by supplementing with L. gasseri, it's not about expecting overnight miracles. Rebalancing the intestinal flora is complex and will take time, whatever your current situation. However, the evidence for the action of L. gasseri on weight loss is there. Subjects in the aforementioned Japanese study lost abdominal fat without dieting. And is that by seeding the intestine of L. gasseri, the intestinal flora is balanced and metabolism is improved. So there is no doubt that this is a very interesting way to multiply the effects of any diet.
If you lead a good lifestyle and, despite everything, have weight problems, especially in the waist, it is possible that L. gasseri is the trigger that will finally allow you to lose that excess weight.