Published on January 29, 2014.
The good news about probiotics keeps rolling in. In new research, doctors found that certain probiotics could help women lose weight and keep it off. The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition by a team of researchers headed by Université Laval Professor Angelo Tremblay.
Studies have already demonstrated that the intestinal flora of obese individuals differs from that of thin people. That difference may be due to the fact that a diet high in fat and low in fiber promotes certain bacteria at the expense of others. Professor Tremblay and his team tried to determine if the consumption of probiotics could help reset the balance of the intestinal microbiota in favor of bacteria that promote a healthy weight.
To test their hypothesis, researchers recruited 125 overweight men and women. The subjects underwent a 12-week weight-loss diet, followed by a 12-week period aimed at maintaining body weight. Throughout the entire study, half the participants swallowed 2 pills daily containing probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family, while the other half received a placebo.
After the 12-week diet period, researchers observed an average weight loss of 4.4 kg in women in the probiotic group and 2.6 kg in the placebo group. However, no differences in weight loss were observed among males in the two groups. “We don’t know why the probiotics didn’t have any effect on men. It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short,” says Professor Tremblay, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance.
After the 12-week maintenance period, the weight of the women in the placebo group had remained stable but the probiotic group had continued to lose weight, for a total of 5.2 kg per person. In short, women consuming probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study. Researchers also noted a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin in this group, as well as a lower overall concentration of the intestinal bacteria related to obesity.
According to Angelo Tremblay, probiotics may act by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall. By keeping certain proinflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, they might help preventing the chain reaction that leads to glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
The Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain used in this study belongs to Nestlé, which uses it in certain yogurts it makes for the European market, but Professor Tremblay believes that the probiotics found in dairy products in North America could have a similar effect to the Nestlé strain. He stresses, however, that the benefits of these bacteria are more likely to be observed in a favorable nutritional context that promotes low fat and adequate fiber intake.1
Bad cholesterol and high glucose levels
Earlier we reported research that says Probiotics are an essentail tool in the fight against bad cholesterol and high glucose levels. Researchers in China have just released an animal study that found that Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium can decrease serum levels of lipid and glucose and improve insulin resistance. 2
Further in a new study (December 2013) Takening probiotics are seen as being a paostive and therapeutic lifestyle change dietary option in cardiovascular disease as they seem to reduce cholesterol and inflammatory markers. 3
In very recent research a bifidobacteria probiotic formulation resulted in a significant reduction of total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol. 4 This confirms and supports the new research and other research which suggested probiotic bacteria (and phytosterols) have shown themselves to be natural cholesterol lowering agents. 5 Other research supports not only Bifidobacterium but Lactobacillus as well. 6
Recently this bulletin from the American Heart Association
“Two daily doses of a probiotic lowered key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood as well as “bad” and total cholesterol . . . Probiotics are live microorganisms (naturally occurring bacteria in the gut) thought to have beneficial effects; common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements.” 7
How do Probiotics lower cholesterol?
Everyone has cholesterol in their blood, but if the levels of LDL are too high, the excess can accumulate on the walls of the arteries. This build-up of cholesterol and other substances – called plaque – can narrow the artery like a clogged drain. A high level of oxidized cholesterol or a low level of HDL cholesterol can be particularly troublesome. It can also lead to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. There are many risks of high cholesterol which range from coronary artery disease to heart attack to stroke.
You need cholesterol
However, we have to keep in mind that cholesterol is a naturally-occurring substance in the body and, at the right level, is necessary as it gives rise to many of the adrenal and sex hormones.
The theory behind probiotics’ ability to lower cholesterol is that the bacteria is able to bind to cholesterol in the small intestine. This binding prevents the cholesterol from being absorbed in the blood stream.
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1. Certain probiotics could help women lose weight. January 28, 2014
2. Yu RQ, Yuan JL, Ma LY, Qin QX, Wu XY. Probiotics improve obesity-associated dyslipidemia and insulin resistance in high-fat diet-fed rats. Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi. 2013 Dec;15(12):1123-7.
3. Dirienzo DB. Effect of probiotics on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease: implications for heart-healthy diets. Nutr Rev. 2013 Dec 13. doi: 10.1111/nure.12084. [Epub ahead of print]
4. Bordoni A, Amaretti A, Leonardi A, Boschetti E, Danesi F, Matteuzzi D, Roncaglia L, Raimondi S, Rossi M. Appl Cholesterol-lowering probiotics: in vitro selection and in vivo testing of bifidobacteria. Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Sep;97(18):8273-81. doi: 10.1007/s00253-013-5088-2. Epub 2013 Jul 20.
5. Awaisheh SS, Khalifeh MS, Al-Ruwaili MA, Khalil OM, Al-Ameri OH, Al-Groom R. Effect of supplementation of probiotics and phytosterols alone or in combination on serum and hepatic lipid profiles and thyroid hormones of hypercholesterolemic rats. J Dairy Sci. 2013 Jan;96(1):9-15. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-5442. Epub 2012 Nov 22.
6. Kumar M, Nagpal R, Kumar R, et al. Cholesterol-lowering probiotics as potential biotherapeutics for metabolic diseases. Exp Diabetes Res. 2012;2012:902917. Epub 2012 May 3.