The consumption of probiotics is increasing due to the health benefits they offer. They are majorly being consumed for digestive health. While some take probiotics in the form of supplements, others eat foods containing probiotic bacteria. Lately, probiotics are believed to aid in weight loss too.
How do probiotics help with weight loss? What are the potential side effects? Can you consume them on your own without consulting a doctor? We answer all of these questions here. Keep reading to know more.
In This Article
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial microbes present in the gut of the human body. They are taken after an antibiotics course to replenish the bacterial growth in the gut. Fermented foods like yogurt contain these microorganisms. Probiotics are also taken in the form of supplements.
Probiotics may not directly contribute to weight loss. However, they enhance factors that promote weight loss. Scroll down to know how they impact weight loss indirectly.
How Probiotics Help In Weight Loss
1. May Promote Digestive Health
Studies show that probiotics regenerate the digestive system with good microbes that neutralize their harmful counterparts. They ferment food and promote health (1). The beneficial microbes minimize gastrointestinal discomfort and constipation that may otherwise affect digestive health (2).
2. May Help Manage Diabetes
Studies suggest that diabetes and obesity are correlated (3). Thus, weight loss may reduce diabetes risk (4). Taking probiotics may improve insulin sensitivity and fasting blood glucose levels (results post overnight fasting) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that probiotics help in improving glucose levels in people with diabetes. Hence, akkermansia muciniphila, a type of probiotic bacteria, are used in type 2 diabetes treatment. Taking probiotics containing lactobacillus lactis and bifidobacterium acidophilus may also improve lipid profile in patients with type 2 diabetes (5 ). The beneficial microbes may also help improve glycemic control (6).
3. May Reduce The Risk Of Obesity By Burning Fat
Probiotic bacterial strains like lactobacillus fermentum and lactobacillus amylovorus may help reduce obesity risk by burning fat. Recent studies show that lactobacillus fermentum can reduce serum lipid. Similarly, lactobacillus amylovorus may reduce cholesterol levels and hydrolyze bile salts. This may effectively reduce obesity risk and indirectly promote weight loss (7). Besides, another probiotic strain called lactobacillus rhamnosus GGMCC was also found to help with weight loss (though certain other strains did not have a similar effect) (8). However, the same effect may not be observed with all the probiotics as it is strain-specific.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
An increase in body weight may lead to an increase in inflammation (9). Studies show that a combination of different probiotic bacteria such as lactobacillus gasseri, lactobacillus casei DN001, and bifidobacterium lactis may help in reducing inflammation (10). Lactobacilli (members of the lactic acid bacteria) are found to boost anti-inflammatory molecule levels. Probiotics like streptococcus thermophilus and bifidobacterium may also help treat inflammatory bowel disease (11).
5. May Promote Sleep
Studies suggest that sleeplessness increases obesity risk (12). Gut microbes play a role in mental health and sleep. Probiotic microorganisms like lactobacillus reuteri and bifidobacterium adolescentis may help improve sleep quality (13). Improved sleep, in turn, may aid weight loss. However, more clear research is warranted in this regard.
Probiotics can be taken in the form of supplements or through foods rich in them. Keep scrolling to see the list of probiotic foods that may consume.
Natural Probiotic Foods
Yogurt is a fermented food formed by lactic acid bacteria. The probiotic lactic acid bacteria is proven to have a beneficial effect on diarrhea, bloating, and other gastrointestinal tract disorders (14). Anecdotal evidence suggests that yogurt may also aid with weight loss when made a part of a balanced diet. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
2. Soft Cheese
Gut microbiota plays a major role in absorbing all nutrients. Changes in the microbiota may cause various types of gut disorders. These may be managed by consuming probiotics. Soft cheese creates a buffer from the acidic environment in the gastrointestinal tract. It generates suitable conditions for the growth of probiotics (15).
This is a fermented food made with chopped cabbage. This pickle contains probiotic lactic acid bacteria that improve gut microorganisms (16).
Kefir is a drink made from fermented milk (any kind). It is known to improve digestion. It may also control plasma glucose levels and act against hypertension and inflammation (17).
Include all these probiotic foods in your diet in moderation. Avoid them if you are allergic to them. In addition, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle, hydrate your body, and ensure optimum physical activity.
Another term often used along with probiotics is prebiotics. What are prebiotics? How are they related to probiotics?
Probiotics And Prebiotics – How They May Aid Weight loss
Prebiotics are food components that are not digestible by humans but improve the gut microbiota. They stimulate the growth of gut-friendly bacteria and are a source of enrichment for probiotics. Prebiotics contain fibers that have fewer calories (18).
Mary Wirtz, a registered clinical dietitian, says prebiotic foods are rich in dietary fiber and take longer to digest. This makes individuals feel full throughout the day, helping them lose and maintain healthy body weight.
Risks Of Probiotics
Probiotic benefits are highly strain-specific. Animal studies state that streptomyces aureofaciens may instead lead to weight gain (19). Probiotics may cause systemic infections, exert a negative effect on metabolic activities, and cause excess immune stimulation in some individuals (20). Hence, take probiotics only upon medical advice.
Are Probiotic Supplements Safe For Weight loss?
Probiotic supplements for weight loss are safe but should only be consumed upon medical advice. As stated, weight loss with probiotics is strain-specific. Hence, consuming them on your own may not help. A healthy diet coupled with moderate exercise and probiotic intake may yield results.
Probiotics can be a healthy addition to your diet. They offer an array of benefits that indirectly promote weight loss. However, not all supplements or foods containing probiotics may show the desired effects. Consult a doctor before including probiotics in your diet.
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- Role of Probiotics in health improvement, infection control and disease treatment and management
- The role of probiotics in digestive health
- Mechanism linking diabetes mellitus and obesity
- The importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Do Probiotics Improve the Health Status of Individuals with Diabetes Mellitus? A Review on Outcomes of Clinical Trials
- Efficacy of UB0316, a multi-strain probiotic formulation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study
- Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons
- Probiotics for the control of obesity – Its effect on weight change
- A prospective study of weight change and systemic inflammation over 9 y
- Probiotics for the control of obesity – Its effect on weight change
- Probiotics in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders
- Sleep and obesity
- Effects of Probiotic NVP-1704 on Mental Health and Sleep in Healthy Adults: An 8-Week Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
- Effect of lactic acid bacteria on diarrheal diseases
- Probiotic cheese: Health benefits, technological and stability aspects
- Sauerkraut: A Probiotic Superfood
- Milk kefir: nutritional, microbiological and health benefits
- Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications
- Weight gain by gut microbiota manipulation in productive animals
- Risk and Safety of Probiotics