Probiotics are microorganisms or “good” bacteria that have many health benefits. They help the body digest and absorb vitamins, fatty acids and other nutrients. They even help with the body’s production of certain vitamins. With 70% of the immune system residing in the intestinal tract, they also improve immunity and inhibit intestinal pathogens. Probiotics can also help minimize inflammation, leaky gut, reactions to allergens and promote healing of skin conditions. In addition to promoting healthy digestion and regularity, they can reduce symptoms of colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and yeast infections.
But what about weight loss?
Your appetite is dependent in part on the proper function of your intestines and one of the key ways to improve intestinal functioning is through the use of probiotics. Recent research has shown that probiotics and probiotic supplements can help curb sugar cravings, resulting in stable blood sugar levels and weight loss. One study with overweight individuals found that supplementation with probiotics can produce a significant decrease in sugar cravings in as few as four days. Although scientists are still uncertain of the exact mechanism by which this occurs, they speculate that the bacteria feed on the carbohydrates. As probiotics feed on sugars, they essentially use up the excess supply, thereby stabilizing blood sugar and minimizing cravings and weight gain. This research suggests that a probiotic supplement and eating foods rich in probiotics can facilitate weight loss.
The human intestinal tract is home to as many as ONE HUNDRED TRILLION organisms, which form the intestinal environment or microbiota. The quality, quantity and physiological activity of the bacteria can easily be changed for the worse by antibiotics, birth control pills, laxative abuse, poor nutrition and stress. As their levels decrease or otherwise change, there can be a corresponding increase in appetite and weight.
One recommendation I make to all my weight loss clients is to take a daily probiotic supplement. While probiotic rich foods such as fermented yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso and kombucha can help, supplements offer much more concentrated doses of bacteria, some numbering in the billions. Supplements are much more effective than probiotic-containing foods at restoring the intestinal microbiota.
Yet with so many similar looking probiotics on the market, it can be hard to know what to take. What strains are best? How many million or billion colony forming units (CFUs) should I look for? Are there lactose free or gluten free options? Which brands guarantee their CFU values to date of expiry? If you are interested in learning more about probiotics or how to select the probiotic supplement that is right for you, contact me for help.