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Do You Shop for the Correct Probiotics for Losing Weight and Preventing Obesity?

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Not all yogurts have the best bacteria for weight loss.

A new study looks at two specific probiotic bacterial strains for losing weight and preventing obesity that suggests these are the ones you should be looking for when food shopping for a healthier home.


The Right Probiotics Have the Right Bacteria

Scientific evidence supports the recommendations of health experts that adding probiotics to your diet might be one of easiest and safest ways to not only solve your digestive problems, but can also help you to lose weight and overcome your obesity.

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In the past, this research was based on the observation that obese people tend to have a less diverse population of gut bacteria than thinner people, which offered an explanation of why some people are weight loss resistant compared to others, due to their not having the right kind of gut bacteria.

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In fact, patients with an overabundance of unhealthy bad bacteria in their digestive tract were found to be cured after replacing harmful gut bacteria with healthy bacteria from another individual’s fecal matter. Whereas, other studies are still undecided whether a fecal transplant could be used to treat obesity as well.

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All of this has led to health advice that continually recommends the use of prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics for successful weight loss.

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Beneficial Bacterial Strains for Weight Loss

But which bacteria strains should you be looking for in your probiotic yogurts and supplements? The answer to this question might be found in a new study that took two promising bacterial strains in isolation to see what affect they would have on preventing and treating obesity in children.

According to a news release from the European Society of Endocrinology, recent studies indicate that probiotics may help children and adolescents with obesity lose weight when taken alongside a calorie-controlled diet.

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In one study, researchers found that the feeding children the bacterial strains Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and Bifidobacterium breve B632, lost more weight and had improved insulin sensitivity compared with children on a diet only.

The news release explains that these two strains were chosen because the “…Bifidobacteria are a group of probiotic bacteria that are part of the natural gut microbiome and help with preventing infection from other bacteria, such as E.coli, and digestion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. During digestion, they release chemicals called short-chain fatty acids, which play an important role in gut health and controlling hunger. Low numbers of Bifodobacteria may impair digestion, affect food intake and energy expenditure, leading to body weight gain and obesity.”

In the study, 100 obese children and adolescents with ages ranging from 6-18 years were put on a calorie-controlled diet and randomly given either probiotics Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and Bifidobacterium breve B632, or a placebo for 8 weeks. Throughout the study, clinical, biochemical and stool sample analyses were carried out to determine the effect of probiotic supplementation on weight gain, gut microbiota and metabolism.

What the researchers found was that compared to the control group, children who had taken the probiotics in conjunction with the shared diet regimen, demonstrated an improvement in waist circumference reduction, BMI lowering, and an improved insulin resistance response.

"Probiotic supplements are frequently given to people without proper evidence data. These findings start to give evidence of the efficacy and safety of two probiotic strains in treating obesity in a younger population," stated Dr. Flavia Prodam the chief investigator of the trial study.

"The next step for our research is to identify patients that could benefit from this probiotic treatment, with a view to creating a more personalized weight-loss strategy. We also want to decipher more clearly the role of diet and probiotics on microbiome composition. This could help us to understand how the microbiota is different in young people with obesity."

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Choosing Your Probiotics

One caveat in choosing the right probiotic products for your family is that dieticians tell us that as part of the processing of many commercially available probiotic yogurts, the natural bacteria used in making the yogurt are often lost during pasteurization, and then replaced prior to packaging. And, whether you are getting the correct probiotics needed for weight loss—such as those suggested by the study—may be difficult or even impossible to decipher from the labeling. The recommendation here is to consult with your physician who has the resources to recommend safe and efficacious sources of specific probiotics that are currently offered in yogurts or in supplements.

As an alternative to commercial yogurts, dieticians also recommend raw fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles―but only the ones that are refrigerated, as the non-refrigerated foods are not actually fermented, but pickled in vinegar instead.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Image courtesy of Bumiputra from Pixabay.

Reference:Probiotics may help manage childhood obesity” European Society of Endocrinology news release 7 Sept. 2020