Your life and health depend on billions of cells that live inside you but aren’t actually part of your body. These cells outnumber your body’s own (think about that; only one in ten cells in your body is actually you).
Your gastrointestinal tract is home to over 500 individual species of bacteria that break down food and supply energy. They even help in processing vitamins such as B and K. Healthy gut flora help to alleviate a host of ailments, from constipation to diarrhea. Research suggests they may even help reduce cancer risks. One of these is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus.
Your gut flora change depending on your age and weight. In fact, obese individuals have gut flora substantially different from those with a healthy weight. So research has looked at the chicken-and-egg issue: does a change in gut flora contribute to weight gain, or does weight gain lead to changes in gut bacteria? This leads to a tantalizing possibility: changing our gut flora may help us lose weight. And changing our gut flora may be as simple as taking a probiotic capsule.
Probiotics, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, and Weight Loss
A 2013 study into Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, one species of gut bacteria, looked specifically at its impact on weight loss. This study examined using the probiotic along with a calorie-restricted diet. The study was divided into two parts. Part one put its subjects through a twelve-week weight loss program with one group receiving Rhamnosus supplements and a second group receiving a placebo. In the second phase of the study, the subjects were put on a weight-maintenance diet with the first group continuing to receive Rhamnosus. The effects were impressive. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus had a noticeable impact on weight loss – but only in the women. Rhamnosus didn’t appear to affect weight loss in men in any way.
Healthy Gut Flora Supports Losing Weight
Does this mean probiotics are important only for women? Absolutely not. Healthy gut flora is valuable to all of us, and this study only examined one species. Others may contribute to weight loss in men but not women – or may have no impact on weight in any way. Research into probiotics is in its infancy. We can expect many more revelations down the road.
A Reduced Calorie Diet Is Necessary
The study also made it clear that, even for women, Rhamnosus wasn’t a quick fix. Reducing calorie intake is vital to weight loss for obvious reasons – to lose weight, our bodies must get rid of stored fat. The only way to do this is to make the body use fat reserves rather than counting on energy supplied by today’s meals. So find a diet that works for you, but which also encourages healthy gut flora. Avoid processed foods.
Avoid Processed Foods For A Healthy Gut
Although processed foods are common in the diet of the western world, they can harm the bacteria your digestive system depends on.
Probiotics are one weapon against weight, but they are also important for health in general. Supplements help. So do foods that encourage probiotic bacteria: cheeses (not processed), yogurt, and pickles all promote the growth of healthy gut flora. And they taste delicious.