Losing weight can be challenging. You may have tried different ways to shed body fat, but none seem to have a permanent effect.
What if we told you that certain bacteria could help you in your weight loss efforts? Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are found in the gut. They are essential to your gut health. A healthy gut is one of the keys to losing weight and keeping it off.
Probiotics, with help from prebiotics, will restore the balance of bacteria in the gut and foster weight loss. They are a powerful “weight loss tool”.
Apart from weight loss, probiotics are great for overall digestive health. So, even if you’re not looking to lose weight, you can consume probiotics to benefit from their immense health benefits.
The role of probiotics and prebiotics
You have trillions of bacteria in and on your body. These bacteria are referred to as your microbiome, most of which are located in your gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria in your gut are important for digestive health, absorption of nutrients, and, ultimately, weight loss.
Balancing your microbiome with probiotics
Dysbiosis is a situation where bad and harmful microorganisms in the gut start to proliferate, disturbing the delicate balance of the gut.
A diet high in sugar and processed foods, constant use of antibiotics, and stress can all contribute to an increase of harmful bacteria in the gut.
Dysbiosis is associated with obesity and increased belly fat while also causing other health issues like bloating.
One way to ensure a healthy gut is to eat healthily. Eating food rich in probiotics is great for maintaining a healthy gut. Probiotic foods include kimchi and tempeh.
These beneficial bacteria help break down food in your gastrointestinal tract while fostering proper digestion. Probiotics also play a role in regulating our appetite and metabolism. A healthy dose of probiotics will help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level and improve insulin sensitivity.
What about prebiotics?
Prebiotics are foods rich in the types of fibre that serve as nutrition for probiotics. They are essential if probiotics are to work optimally. Prebiotics are mostly sourced from our diet.
An example of prebiotic fibre is inulin. They’re found naturally in plants. Some prebiotic and probiotic supplements contain them, too.
Benefits of probiotics for weight loss and reduction in belly fat
There are several ways that probiotics can contribute to shedding extra body fat. Here are some of the ways probiotics can help you lose weight:
Controlling our appetite is probably our biggest weight loss struggle.
Since your body knows when it is full and when it needs food, appetite control shouldn’t be an issue. But dysbiosis and bad bacteria disrupt the action of weight-control hormones. The result is an increase in appetite.
Probiotics will return balance to your gut microbiome, which will cause an increase in metabolism and a reduction in appetite. Researchers also suggest that probiotics may limit fat absorption from food.
Reduces risk of inflammation and obesity
Intestinal inflammation is due to changes in the gut microbiome, usually due to our diet. Inflammation puts you at a higher risk of obesity, so indirectly, changes in the balance of the gut can cause obesity.
Because they improve gut health, probiotics are a preventive measure against chronic intestinal inflammation. They do this by directly influencing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (small proteins that allow your cells to talk to each other). By reducing inflammation, probiotics also decrease fat storage and offer protection against obesity and other medical conditions. Human studies have shown that an obese person will experience reduced waist circumference and body fat mass after consuming probiotics.
Dysbiosis causes changes in the secretion of GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide 1) hormones. These hormones regulate insulin and the absorption of glucose into the blood.
As a result of these changes, inflammation can occur, causing insulin resistance and increased insulin production. That’s a problem for weight loss because your body only burns fat when it senses insulin levels dropping.
However, a healthy gut microbiome helps control blood sugar levels and regulates hormone production, which will aid in weight management.
Changes to your gut microbiome could leave you susceptible to illness, and sick people do not have the energy to stay active. Probiotics will help keep you healthy and ensure you are active to shed unnecessary body fat.
Central nervous system
As implausible as it sounds, your gut shares a connection with your brain, and the bacteria there directly affect your central nervous system performance.
Dysbiosis happens when the good bacteria cannot keep out the bad bacteria. These bad bacteria can cause inflammation by triggering the body’s immune system. It can exacerbate depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions that directly impact your diet, activities, and metabolism. All these contribute to weight gain.
Probiotics will help restore this balance and ensure that your central nervous system functions optimally.
Some strains of probiotics may increase the risk of weight gain and obesity
As you can see, probiotics offer many benefits, including weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. However, not all probiotic strains promote weight loss; in fact, some promote weight gain.
Do not think you are guaranteed weight loss just because you eat yoghurt and cheese daily. Ensure you only take the probiotics that can help with weight loss.
For example, a four-week study of 22 overweight adults found that consuming fresh or fermented kimchi helped reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat.
How you can introduce more probiotics and prebiotics into your diet
To ensure that your gut bacteria is balanced, you must add more probiotic-rich foods and prebiotics to your daily food intake.
You can increase the number of prebiotic fibres in your diet by eating more fruits, veggies, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, beans, and whole-grain foods.
Fermented dairy foods like kefir and certain cheeses often contain live cultures such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These live cultures act as probiotics for weight loss. Kefir can rev up your metabolism (similar to the goal of cardio exercises) and potentially help you reach your weight loss goals. Other fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Lastly, remember to take dietary supplements that are rich in probiotics and prebiotics.