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How Do Probiotics Affect Metabolism and What Is the Role of Probiotics in Metabolic Health? – Learn All You Need to Know

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This guide covers everything you need to know about metabolism and probiotics to lose weight. Learn which probiotic strains help burn fat and which ones may help with metabolic health.

Article Summary

  • Probiotics are a hot topic and studies are taking place all the time in order to find out more about their health benefits.
  • We delved into the research to find the best strains for weight loss and metabolic health.

Probiotics may help treat a range of metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors characterized by high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol – is now one of the world’s biggest killers.

Obesity and metabolic syndrome

Metabolic conditions are linked to obesity. Obesity levels around the world have almost tripled since 1975, and about 39% of adults around the world are now classed as obese. The risk factors in metabolic syndrome increase your risk of suffering heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Your chances rise with every metabolic risk factor you have. The risk factors are:

  • High triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood) and high total cholesterol
  • High blood sugar
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Excess fat around the stomach
  • High blood pressure

It is essential that you get professional advice if you suspect you have metabolic syndrome or any of the risk factors associated with it.

What exactly are probiotics?

Probiotics are a collection of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi that live on and in your body, making up your gut microbiome. They work together to keep you healthy, fighting off invaders, breaking down toxins, and synthesizing vitamins and minerals. You can top up your probiotic levels by eating fermented dishes such as tempeh and sauerkraut, foods rich in fibers, or taking dietary supplements. Probiotic supplements generally contain a wide range of bacteria, the most common being from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families.

And what is metabolism?

Metabolism is the range of chemical reactions that take place in your body, transforming the food you eat into energy. It affects every single cell in your body. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to keep functioning at rest. This rate is largely genetic. Experts still don’t truly understand why it varies so much from person to person, but it is thought that there are some actions you can take to improve your metabolism.

Do probiotics help metabolism?

While there is still much research to be done on the subject, experts know that friendly gut bacteria play a role in energy balance. Obesity is linked to functional and structural changes to the gut microbiome, and taking a probiotic containing at least three strains for eight weeks has been shown to improve metabolic markers, leading to slight weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and decreased liver enzyme production.

Some experts think that microbial dysfunction may disrupt the gut-brain signal, leading to feelings of hunger and weight gain. Another proposal is that gut microbiota themselves produce extra calories. By taking probiotics for metabolism, this theory says you can change your gut microbiome and therefore avoid weight gain. While no one fully understands the role the human gut and probiotics play in metabolism, there is almost certainly a link.

Scientists do know that probiotics contribute to healthy gut. Lifestyle modifications are always the best way to lose weight, but studies suggest probiotics may assist your microbiome by affecting appetite and food intake, thus altering your metabolic functioning.

Do probiotics help metabolic conditions?

Although there is an obvious need for more research, several studies to date show that probiotics can help metabolic conditions. Aside from assisting with weight loss, probiotics may make positive changes to your gut microbiota, filling your system with friendly gut bacteria, which will have many positive effects.

Probiotics can help balance cholesterol

Studies have shown that probiotics can help lower total cholesterol, perhaps by helping your body to release excess bile in your stools. The most commonly used strains for targeting cholesterol are acidophilus and lactis, and some studies show that long-term use tends to be more beneficial.

Probiotics can help lower blood pressure

The probiotic strains Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus casei may help lower blood pressure by helping your body to release beneficial amino acids.

Probiotics support your digestion

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome will support your digestion. Metabolic syndrome and its associated conditions are linked to imbalances of bacteria in the gut. When your gut is balanced, friendly bacteria produce enzymes that help your body break down the food you eat into smaller, more digestible molecules.

Probiotics can help reduce inflammation

Low-grade inflammation is another health complaint associated with metabolic syndrome and weight gain. Certain probiotic strains, including Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus may be effective in decreasing this inflammation.

Probiotics can improve diabetes

A recent study looking at 15 randomized controlled trials indicated that probiotic supplementation might reduce the adverse effects of type 2 diabetes. How this works is as yet unknown, and more research is needed to determine the precise role of probiotics in metabolic syndrome, but the results look promising.

Do probiotics affect appetite?

You may envy your friends’ abilities to refuse a second helping of pie, but increasing evidence suggests it’s not down to willpower alone. In fact, it’s your gut microbes that signal feelings of hunger or fullness. Your gut communicates with your brain in what’s known as the gut-brain-axis. Factors that are known to alter the activity of your gut microbes — and therefore its functioning — include the use of antibiotics, certain medications, high levels of the artificial sweetener, saccharin, and poor diet.

Probiotics have been shown to balance the bacteria in your microbiome, thus affecting your appetite. Scientists think they do this by regulating the genes involved in appetite and making changes to the population of your microbiome. It is also thought that probiotics can affect your mood, leading to higher restraint when it comes to overeating.

Is it okay to take a probiotic every day?

If you are taking probiotics for weight loss — or any other reason, it’s generally safe to take them every day. However, it is always recommended to talk to your health care provider before you start taking any new supplements. In rare situations, probiotics can trigger mild stomach problems (gas, bloating, or diarrhea). Those symptoms usually go away after a few days. It is always better to gradually increase dosage to allow your body to detox and get used to them.  

What is the best probiotic for weight loss?

Supplements on the market contain various strains of probiotic bacteria. It’s important you choose your product wisely since consuming different strains will have different effects. Strains work symbiotically, which is why investing in a good blend is priceless. Look out for the following ingredients:

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Some studies have reported that acidophilus can lead to weight gain. However, a recent study reported that obese patients taking a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus for six months had good results. They lost weight and experienced a reduction in waist circumference, waist to height ratio, and BMI.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus

As one of the best-studied probiotics, Lactobacillus rhamnosus is sometimes added to dairy products. But it’s also available in plant-based supplements. It is thought to help with weight loss, with some studies citing that it can help you lose body fat without reducing the amount of food you consume.

Lactobacillus plantarum

Several studies have shown that Lactobacillus plantarum can help prevent and reduce body weight gain, at the same time decreasing organ weight, glucose levels, and cholesterol. Experts think this works by making changes to your gut microbiota, leading to feelings of fullness.

Lactobacillus casei

A recent study found that Lactobacillus casei, when taken as a supplement, led to decreased weight, waist circumference, and fat intake. It may also help with constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and lactose intolerance.

Bifidobacterium lactis

While further studies are needed to be certain, scientists believe that Bifidobacterium lactis may be a useful probiotic to help fight body fat. It’s not completely understood, but it is thought that it works by altering the bacteria in your gut and increasing the number of lean phenotype microbes, which are associated with healthy body weight.

Lactobacillus gasseri

Studies have shown that lactobacillus gasseri can help with weight loss. However, since it’s taken from human breast milk, it is not a plant-based option.

Final thoughts

The best way to lose body fat is always to make sustainable, achievable lifestyle changes. While probiotics can certainly be a part of this, following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise are the best ways to stay trim. People who steadily lose around one or two pounds per week are more likely to keep the weight off, so aim for small changes and ease into a healthier lifestyle.

The only complete probiotic system that combines 13 high-potency probiotic strains with essential enzymes to improve digestion and support immune function.

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