Nestle-backed study argues probiotics can speed weight loss

(Alessio Cola/shutterstock.com)

(Alessio Cola/shutterstock.com)

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, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

A new study claims that the regular consumption of probiotics could help accelerate weight loss in women.

Published jointly out of food and yogurt giant Nestlé and Université Laval in Quebec, the research suggests that obese women who add probiotics to their diet plan - most commonly found in yogurt - could lose twice as much weight as those who don't.

Based on the premise that the intestinal flora of obese people differs from thin people - likely due to a diet high in fat and low in fiber - scientists set out to see if the consumption of "good bacteria" could help reset the balance of gut microbiota.

To test out their theory, researchers recruited 125 overweight men and women who were put on a 12-week weight loss diet, followed by another 12-week maintenance program. During the 24-week period, half the participants were instructed to take two pills of probiotics daily, while the other half received a placebo.

After the first period, women who took probiotics lost an average of about 10 lbs while their placebo counterparts lost about 6 lbs.

By the end of the 24-week period, women in the probiotic group had continued to lose weight for a total of about 11 lbs, while the placebo group remained stable.

Overall, the results showed that women who took probiotics lost twice as much weight over the test period as those who took none. The probiotic group also experienced a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin and a decline in intestinal bacteria related to obesity.

Interestingly, researchers note that the consumption of probiotics made no impact on male participants.

Probiotics are thought to work by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall and helping keep pro-inflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, thereby preventing the chain reaction that can lead to weight-related illnesses like glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The research was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Probiotics have also been associated with reducing stress-induced gut flare-ups in a study published in Gastroenterology, and they are also being explored as a pathway for psychological well-being.


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