Probiotics May Prevent Post-Pregnancy Obesity
Women who are concerned about excess weight gain post-pregnancy may want to consider taking probiotics. A new study found that women who took probiotics during pregnancy had a reduced risk of obesity after delivery than those who did not take the beneficial bacteria.
Losing excess pounds after pregnancy can be a difficult task for many women. Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria shown in many research studies to be helpful in regulating the digestive system, have also demonstrated usefulness in preventing colds and flu and in aiding weight loss after gastric bypass surgery.
In this new study, researchers at the University of Turku in Finland conducted the first investigation ever to test the effect of probiotics with regard to obesity. The study consisted of 256 pregnant women who were randomly assigned to one of three groups.
In one group, women received probiotics and dietary counseling, the second group received dietary counseling and a placebo, and the third group received a placebo only. All of the women began taking the probiotics or placebo during their first trimester and continued taking them throughout their pregnancy and for six months after giving birth.
The women who took the probiotics had the lowest level of obesity one year after giving birth as well as the lowest amount of body fat. Twenty-five percent of the women who received probiotics plus counseling had excess belly fat one year after pregnancy compared with 43 percent of women who had received dietary advice only. This finding is considered to be important because abdominal fat increases the risk for heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers (e.g., breast, ovarian), and sleep apnea, among other serious conditions.
The findings suggest that probiotics may have an impact on the bacteria in the intestinal tract and thus help fight obesity. Researchers now plan to follow the women and their children to determine if there are any differences in the outcomes of the health of the children related to their mothers’ obesity and if there is an effect on the children’s weight as well.
Alternative Health Journal, 2009 Nov. 9; online