Will Probiotics Really Help You Lose Your Belly Fat?
Do you suffer from any of one of a wide range of digestive issues such as bloating, excessive gas, gurgling, tummy aches and pains, and unexplained weight gain resulting in belly fat? According to a new article published in Dr. Oz: The Good Life magazine, written by health writer Timothy Gower, those problems could be due to the bad bacteria that live in your gut.
The good news is that some digestive issues can often be resolved by changing the bacteria that live in your gut. How do you do this? Simple―by eating some cultured food products known commercially as probiotics you can replace bad bacteria with good bacteria. But the burning questions are, with so many brands of probiotics promising to help resolve your digestive problems, which probiotics really work? And, can probiotics really help you lose your belly fat? The answers to these questions depends on choosing the right bacteria to match the right symptom; and, if promising mouse study results can translate to human fat-fighting treatments.
To help you choose the right probiotic, summarized below are the facts and Dr. Oz-recommended advice you need to keep your bacteria and your tummy under control.
One of the most amazing facts about the bacteria in your gut is that they outnumber all of the cells in your body by a factor of at least 10:1. These bacteria primarily reside within the digestive tract in a community that is collectively referred by scientists as a microbiome. According to writer Timothy Gower, this microbiome is thought by some to be likened to an independent organ like your liver or kidneys, that is just as important for maintaining your good health.
One of the important jobs good bacteria do in your digestive tract is to help break food down through fermentation to extract nutrients from the digested food so that it can be passed on into your blood where it will then be delivered throughout the body. Bacteria also help provide both the Vitamin K and several B vitamins responsible for feeling energetic.
So where’s the evidence that we can actually change the bacteria in our gut? One example is from research that has shown that people who are primarily meat eaters (a high fat, low fiber diet) have a preponderance of one type of gut bacteria in comparison to vegetarians (a low fat, high fiber diet) who have a preponderance of a different type of gut bacteria. When vegetarians were fed a high fat, low fiber diet, one study found that their gut bacteria type changed in just 24 hours to the type meat eaters possess. To be clear, vegetarians and meat eaters have both populations of bacteria, it’s just that depending on your diet, one population of several in the gut may be significantly greater in number than the other(s).
In another study, gut bacteria from pairs of human twins who differed with one sibling being skinny and the other fat were transferred into the guts of normal mice. What the researchers found was that the mice receiving the skinny twin bacteria remained the same, but the mice receiving the fat twin bacteria became obese.
Furthermore, in another human/animal study, human gut bacteria were transferred into the gut of normal mice that were subsequently fed a fat and sugar-filled diet and then became obese. The gut bacteria from these obese mice was then transferred to the guts of normal mice that were subsequently fed a low-fat, low-sugar diet. These mice too became obese even though they were fed a healthy diet.
The researchers concluded that the wrong type of bacteria in the gut can lead to obesity―in mice. Whether or not this translates to humans too is still undetermined, but the compelling evidence is food for thought.
However, even though there may be some question as to whether or not probiotics can help you lose belly fat, Dr. Oz tells viewers that it can be a great way to fight and prevent belly bloat as well as a number of other digestive ailments. Fortunately, we do not have to resort to exchanging another person’s gut bacteria with our own. Yogurt is essentially fermented milk to which bacteria had been added to give yogurt its characteristic flavor and texture.
“Probiotics comes in many forms, but the best way to get it is in yogurt,” says Dr. Oz as he points out that eating yogurt is not a one-time event to make your digestive troubles go away. Rather, that you have to follow 3 rules when eating yogurt to get rid of belly bloat.
So what should you look for in a probiotic to help with your digestive issues? Writer Timothy Gower provides the following Dr. Oz–approved advice:
Choosing a Probiotic Recommendations:
1. Choose foods labeled as probiotics using common sense―In order for a probiotic to work the bacteria in it have to be alive or dormant until it enters your body. If a food is labeled as a probiotic, it should have been manufactured and packaged under conditions that would not have killed off the bacteria. In other words, if you have to cook or subject the “probiotic” food to heat before eating, you will likely have just killed off the health-benefitting bacteria.
2. Know what the names mean when choosing a probiotic—Bacteria are listed on labels using their scientific Latin names with the genus name (or its first initial) first followed by the species name. There may also be other letters and numbers after the Latin name to distinguish specific strains. One example given in the article is Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285.
3. Understand that bigger is better―Colony Forming Units (CFUs) is a measurement to give you an idea just how concentrated the probiotic is with bacteria. You will want a number that is labeled relatively high—at least one billion CFUs daily.
4. Check the expiration and how it relates to recommendation #3―Choose only those probiotic foods that state a specific number of CFUs on the “best by” date listed. If the CFU number is stated at “time of manufacture,” then by the time you eat that probiotic, its CFU amount may be significantly lower.
5. Store your non-yogurt probiotics cool and dry―packaged solid probiotic supplements have had their bacteria freeze-dried to keep them dormant until they enter the warm, wet environment of your gut. If stored in a humid area such a bathroom cabinet, the humidity may prematurely activate the bacteria.
6. Store your yogurt and liquid probiotics in a refrigerator
7. Keep a diary―When using a probiotic or trying several out to see which works for your gastric distress, keep a log or diary to monitor each separately and how it affects your health.
8. Match the bacteria with the symptom―Here is a list of suggested probiotic brands and bacteria types and strains for treating specific digestive tract conditions:
• For an irritable bowel: Culturelle (L. GG) or Align (B.infantis 35624.
• For diarrhea due to antibiotics: Culturelle (L. GG), Bio-K Plus (L. acidophilus CL1285, Or Florastor (S. boulardii).
• For traveler’s diarrhea: Culturelle (L. GG) or Florastor (S. boulardii).
• For a stomach bug: Culturelle (L. GG), BioGaia (L. reuteri protectis) or Florastor (S. boulardii).
One important thing to remember is that not all stomach ailments are due to bacteria and therefore it is recommended to always seek advice from your primary care physician and/or a gastroenterologist when digestive problems are chronic.
To learn more about probiotics and your gut health, read the entire issue for all the details in the March/April issue of Dr. Oz: The Good Life.
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Reference: Dr. Oz: The Good Life magazine March/April