Probiotics also known as good bacteria are living organisms that confer health benefits when consumed. Studies have reviewed probiotics and weight loss to be related. Probiotics reside in our gastrointestinal tract as their normal habitat.
Usually, we get good bacteria from the consumption of food prepared in a special way like cultured milk and traditionally fermented yogurt. They are also found in supplement form with different strains of probiotics.
Probiotics help to reseed our gastrointestinal tract with healthy bacteria that create an ecosystem in the gut that positively has effects on our body weight, the functioning of the digestive and immune system.
There are many varieties (genera) of probiotics that are known to be beneficial to a human body such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus, Streptococcus, and enterococcus
What to know about probiotics
Did you know that your body is more of bacteria than body cells, it contains about 100 trillion bacteria compared to 10 trillion body cells (a ration of 10 to 1). Thus, to say our body have a close relationship and complex interacting with these good bacteria enabling it to perform numerous functions.
Ideally, your gut should contain 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. Therefore, ensure to have an optimal balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines is very critical considering the multiple health benefits we get from them such as on weight control and body immunity, in fact, it is where 80 percent of our immune system comes from.
An imbalance of the good and bad bacteria can wreak havoc on your health resulting in obesity and even struggling to lose weight.
Studies have shown a close relationship between probiotics and weight loss. They reviewed that most obese people have an imbalance of probiotics that contribute to their obesity or having problems to lose weight.
While another study reviewed that study participants experienced 4.6 percent reduction in belly fat and 3.3 percent of body fat after twelve weeks of consumption of fermented milk products that contain Lactobacillus gasseri LG2055
What can disrupt your gut bacteria balance
Ensuring that your gut bacteria remained balanced should be an ongoing process as there are many factors that can interrupt the balance. One way to ensure it is to make cultured and fermented food part of your regular diet.
An alternative to fermented and cultured food, you can take high-quality probiotics supplements to get these good bacteria for your gut.
Several factors are known to interfere with the balance of your good and bad bacteria in your gut. We are exposed to them in many ways, hence we need to be careful and avoid them including but not limited to the following:
Antibiotics disrupt the balance of your bacteria by killing both good and bad bacteria without distinction. When this happened, the bad bacteria quickly replace themselves that pave way for various health problems including obesity.
Antibacterial soap or toothpaste contains chemical ingredients like triclosan and triclocarbon that may generate resistant bacteria which easily offset the balance of gut bacteria. Some countries have now started banning Triclosan use for the manufacturing of products.
Chlorinated water has the power to kill both good and bad bacteria in the gut. Chlorine is widely used for treating water and drinking water treated with chlorine directly from the tap can kill your good bacteria.
Agriculture chemicals, especially pesticides, enter our bodies usually through ingestion of its residues on or within vegetables, fruits, contaminated animal tissues, and fishes. We can also take them by drinking contaminated water or inhaling especially with sprayed pesticides
Environmental Pollution with various contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics contaminate the water, food, and air that we use which then have a huge negative impact on our gut ecology.
Whenever we are exposed to any of the above factors they destroy and interrupt our gut ecosystem. Thus, when probiotic food or supplement must be a part of our regular habits to flourish good bacteria and maintain the balance.
How to balance your gut bacteria
There is no consensus as to how much probiotics should be ingested in order to obtain beneficial results. However, they should contain several billion microorganisms to increase their chance of colonizing the gut.
Throughout history, people have been getting these good bacteria from the consumption of traditionally prepared food like yogurt, cheese, and natto which still exist today among different cultures across the globe. But modern food preparation processes such as pasteurization destroy the good bacteria.
Eating fermented food is one of the best ways and least expensive to boost and improve your gut health. High-quality supplements containing different strains of probiotics also work effectively.
Avoid taking food that contains sugar including fructose as they promote weight gain and the growth of bad bacteria, fungi, and yeast that competitively impair your good bacteria. Bad bacteria produce metabolic wastes that deteriorate your overall health and promote obesity.
When you just finished a dose of antibiotics, its a good time to take probiotics to restore and balance your gut bacteria.
Probiotics supplements are more efficient when taken on an empty stomach two hours before breakfast or last meal of the day.
What food is rich in probiotics?
Certain food preparation promotes the growth of probiotics in many cuisines and beverages all around the world, these food are also rich in various nutrients including the following:
Sauerkraut (sour cabbage) is made from fermenting cabbage with lactic acid. It contains probiotics such as Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus brevis, which are able to survive the stomach acid and reach intestines.
Kimchi is also made from cabbage similar to sauerkraut but is put into salt before the process of fermentation begins.
Yogurt made from milk by the process of fermentation contains probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Streptococcus strains.
Kefir is made from special kefir grains that are fermented with milk. It contains probiotics and also special beneficial yeast strains.
Natto is made by fermentation of soybeans that produce a sticky texture and pungent smell, traditionally very popular among the Japanese people.
Unfortunately, many food products are traditionally made and you won’t find them in the supermarket. Many of the products found in the supermarket don’t contain probiotics due to their preparation process. They are also added with sugar/ fructose syrup and artificial sweeter that hinder the growth of probiotics and contribute to obesity as well.
To get a wider variety of beneficial bacteria, eat different varieties of this fermented food and make them routine to your diet. Most food prepared in this special way, are able to supply a wide variety of probiotics than other supplements.
Why are probiotics important?
Ever wondered why some people despite their effort to lose weight, struggle to lose it, have more inflammation and fatigue. A new clinical trial has found the answer related to the balance of probiotics in the gut.
Many studies conducted on probiotics, documented that obese people have different intestinal bacteria than slim people hence the performance of their digestive system differs and affects their body weight.
Probiotics are so crucial to our overall health to the point that researchers have compared them to be a newly recognized organ. We cannot be whole and healthy without these good bacteria that are friendly to our bodies.
Research on probiotics and weight loss was done in 123 obese Danish people, along with non-obese 169 people, measured the makeup of their gut bacteria through DNA analysis, reviewed that those people who have lower levels of probiotics had significantly greater levels of obesity, high levels of cholesterol and greater levels of inflammation conditions.
Another study found that bad bacteria known as firmicutes were 20 percent more in obese people and they were lower with bacteroidetes (good bacteria) by 90 percent
Firmicutes seemed to promote obesity because they appear to be more efficient in taking calories out of the complex sugar and deposit these calories in fat. A study of firmicutes done in rats showed that when normal-weight rats were transplanted with firmicutes, they gained twice as much fat.
How to notice an imbalance of probiotics
Sometimes it not easy to notice when your gut bacteria is off balance but these signs and symptoms may be a warning indicator that bad bacteria have taken over too much in your gut including gas and bloating, constipation and diarrhea, headaches and fatigue
Boating is a symptom whereby an individual feels full due to the build-up of gas, it happens when there is constipation which allows bacteria to have more time to ferment on the food, thus producing more than usual gases.
Diarrhea may be a warning sign of an imbalance of your gut organism, at the same time diarrhea itself can cause an imbalance of your gut bacteria. So what is diarrhea? diarrhea is simply referred to as excretion of loose stools three or more times per day. But studies showed that probiotics most notably Lactobacillus have a positive impact on diarrhea.
What to look for in probiotics supplements
No single probiotic is good for everyone but there are certain things that need to be guaranteed before the use of probiotics supplements.
According to my observation, many people responded favorably to probiotics that contain Lactobacillus sporogenes and I recommend it as a starting point for many people who are new on probiotics.
When buying the supplement make sure to buy high-quality probiotic supplements and ensure the following:
The probiotics strain in the product must be able to resist the acid in our stomach and the bile so that they should reach the intestines where they will live, grow and multiply.
The supplement must contain bacteria strains that are known to have health-promoting features. Look for supplement product containing multiple species of bacteria including Lactobacillus (L/ acidophilus and L/plantarum) and Bifidobacteria (B/Lactis, B/Longum, and B/bifidum) as high diversity tend to have a good outcome for better health.
The probiotic must be guaranteed throughout the entire production process, storage and shelf life of the supplements.
Look for potency count of 50 billion or higher number of bacteria delivered per dose, supplements products should be in sealed packages and stored as directed by the manufacturer.
Some supplements may contain prebiotics that is the fuel used by probiotics to multiply and grow in the intestinal tract. Prebiotics are equivalent to dietary fiber such as Inulin, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides that probiotic use for their nourishment. You can get your probiotics here
Side effects of probiotics
Many studies have documented the benefits and use of probiotics to be generally safe for many people. However, people are different and some few will experience minor side effects when they take probiotics. It is better to consult your doctor before taking probiotics to rule out possible complication such as the following:
Abdominal discomfort: some people may experience bloating and flatus after taking bacteria-based probiotics but the effect is usually temporary
Increased histamine levels: some people may react to a certain strain of probiotics resulting in an increase in their histamine production that causes dilatation of blood vessels, redness/swelling of the skin and allergic reaction
High risk of infections: especially to those people who are critically ill or severally immune-compromised hence, probiotics should be used cautiously to this group.
Probiotics are linked to weight loss along with numerous other health benefits. Obese people have lower levels of good bacteria in their intestines than lean people hence different functions of their digestive system.
Probiotics in your intestines are constantly been affected by your lifestyle and even the surrounding environment. If you take food that is processed or contain sugar, it feeds on bad bacteria that help them to grow and overcome the good bacteria thus inverting your gut bacteria balance
Optimizing your intestinal bacteria should be an ongoing process, make sure to check and take some probiotics especially when you are putting enough effort to lose your weight and you see no results. Studies have reviewed some people struggling to lose weight despite their healthy diet and exercise simply because of an imbalance of their gut bacteria.
Traditionally prepared fermented food can help to get a wide variety of probiotics that are essential for the balance of your gut bacteria. When taking supplements make sure to get high-quality brands with different variety of probiotics species for a better health outcome. You can get high quality probitoics supplements here