How Good Bacteria Can Help You Lose weight
Growing up, I’ve always been a fan of Yakult and Vitagen. The advertisements always shared the same message, that they contain Lactobacillus that’s good for your stomach. Then, at 10 years old, I could barely pronounce this 5-syllable word, much less knew what it meant. All I know was that 1 bottle of Yakult or Vitagen never quite satiated my thirst and I was always asking for more.
Fast forward 3 decades later, and the word Lactobacillus has made its way back into the limelight again, now with several studies suggesting that probiotics containing Lactobacillus can help in losing weight and belly fat!
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So what are probiotics?
Probiotics essentially help restore the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the digestive system. You know your gut balance is out of whack when you feel bloated, suffer from constipation and/ or diarrhoea, or experience any other digestive discomfort. Taking probiotics can help to reset your gut balance and improve all these symptoms. “By taking probiotics, we are introducing strains of bacteria pre-selected for their health benefits which can help in rebalancing gut health,” explains Dr Low Chai Ling, Medical Director for SW1 Clinic.
How can probiotics help in weight loss?
To first understand the effects of probiotics on weight loss you will need to know who the key players are. In the gut, there are two main families of bacteria in the gut: the good Bacteroidetes and the not-so-good Firmicutes. It has been found that lean individuals have a higher proportion of bacteria from the Bacteriodetes family, while obese individuals have more from the Firmicutes family. What this translates to is if we can alter our gut environment by maximising Bacteroidetes and minimising Firmicutes, we can fight and eradicate obesity.
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So what should we look out for in probiotics?
There are a host of various strains of probiotics but which ones can really help you fight the bulge? Let’s break it down for you.
1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus
This member of the Bacteroidetes family could be the single best probiotic you need to know for weight loss. When researchers from Université Laval in Quebec, Canada placed 125 overweight men and women on a 12-week weight-loss diet, followed by a 12-week period aimed at maintaining body weight, it was found the women who took two probiotics from the L. rhamnosus family daily lost twice as much weight, compared with their counterparts who did not take probiotics. Simply look for “L. rhamnosus” on the label of supplements or dairy products to be sure that this key ingredient is included.
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2. Lactobacillus gasseri
Another winner when it comes to effective weight loss is L. gasseri. L. gasseri, in particular, has been associated with reductions in body weight and belly fat, with one study showing that participants taking L. gasseri lost 8.5 percent of their belly fat after just 12 weeks. The best probiotic should have diversity and the ideal probiotic would feature the Bacteroidetes family, specifically several types of Lactobacillus bacteria including L. gasseri.
3. Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus amylovorus
Two other probiotics that are best for weight loss are L. fermentum and L. amylovorus. In one study, participants who ate yogurt with L. fermentum or L. amylovorus reduced body fat by 3 to 4 percent during a six-week period.
It doesn’t hurt to know too that consuming probiotic-rich yogurt may also help treat depression.)