Probiotics are necessary for your body to break down food and support a healthy immune system. They may also promote weight loss.
Your gut contains many different bacteria, which are part of your microbiome, a collection of over 100 trillion microbes.
These bacteria all work together to help your body do the following:
- Break down nutrients
- Break down medications
- Protect against disease-causing pathogens
- Keep your gut lining healthy
- Influence your immune system
- Keep you regular!
Dysbiosis happens when the bacteria in your gut become unbalanced. This can cause digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and inflammatory bowel disease, along with allergies and even brain disorders.
Most scientists agree that bacteria affect your metabolism. They do so by helping your body:
- Make vitamin K
- Make folate (vitamin B9)
- Make biotin (vitamin B7)
- Make vitamin B12
- Absorb magnesium
- Absorb calcium
- Absorb iron
- Break down carbohydrates
- Ferment fibres
- Make short-chain fatty acids
Short-chain fatty acids can help your body tolerate sugar and use energy more efficiently. They may also help you feel full and suppress your appetite.
I am sometimes contacted by people wondering if probiotics can help with managing their weight. Many of these people struggle with constipation, and let’s face it, if you suffer with a lazy bowel, it’s highly likely that you’re going to struggle to lose weight as pounds and pounds of faecal material build up in your bowel, creating lots of bloaty gas. Gas is light, but it still has mass so can contribute to weight gain.
Research has found a number of links between the gut microbiome and weight. People who carry extra weight have significantly different microbiomes to those who do not. One study done on sets of twins found that those who were obese had less diverse gut bacteria compared to those who were lean.
The simplest way to increase your gut diversity, and therefore accumulate more ‘good’ microbes is to take a daily probiotic, such as our Live Bacteria capsules.
It’s also important to consume foods that are rich in prebiotics – food for the microbes in your gut. Consuming prebiotics can make your gut a more hospitable place where ‘good’ bugs can thrive.
How do probiotics help with weight management?
There are numerous theories about how probiotics might affect weight, including that they can help reduce fat absorption.
The most promising evidence on probiotics and weight loss comes from a 2013 study in The British Journal of Nutrition, which looked at the effects of one strain of probiotics, Lactobacillus rhamnosus. At the end of the trial, the women who took probiotics lost more weight than those in the placebo group. The probiotics group also went on to continue losing weight after the trial had ended (while the placebo group only maintained).
Different environmental and dietary factors can alter the microbiome in ways that can increase inflammation and affect metabolism and digestion, which could explain why some people are more likely to gain weight if their microbiome is imbalanced.
Probiotics have been shown to help improve our digestion and absorption of nutrients from our food, so it’s not too surprising to think that different bacteria may help us to extract more calories and nutrients from our food too.
We know that there is a relationship between a person’s diet and the composition of their gut microbiota. Introducing probiotics into your daily routine will result in a greater diversity of bacteria in the gut. Having a greater diversity of gut bacteria is helpful in many regards, particularly when it comes to losing weight.
It has been found that people with a reduced diversity of gut microbes tend to produce fewer amino acids when on a weight loss diet than those with greater diversity. Amino acids help the body to metabolise food, therefore we want more! It seems that having a greater diversity of bacteria in the gut maintains levels of amino acids in the body when following a weight loss diet. This keeps the body metabolically active, helping with weight loss and body composition.
How to manage weight gain from bloating
I’ve received lots of enquiries over the years from women who feel overweight because they are so bloated. They may not necessarily be overweight (their arms and legs are in proportion), but because they suffer with bloating so much, they feel fat, frumpy and fed up! When I recommend taking a daily Live Bacteria capsule alongside a Digestive Enzymes tablet before meals, those with a dysbiotic gut often find that their bloating is greatly reduced and they can enjoy their food once more without worrying that they are going to blow up like a balloon.
The same goes for peri and menopausal women, who have never suffered with weight issues and bloating, but as soon as their hormones change, fat starts to build up around the middle and they start to experience bloating on top of that, again due to hormonal changes, which causes a lot of distress.
Read how Liz was able to reduce her bloating when she started to supplement with our Live Bacteria capsules:
If you have any questions about a digestive and gut health issue or would like advice with a supplement protocol, please get in touch.