Can probiotics help you lose weight?

A healthy gut not only keeps your digestive tract in tip-top shape, but adding more friendly flora, or probiotics, to your diet might also help you lose weight – and keep it off.

New research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that certain probiotics – which are found in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut – helped women shed extra pounds.

Sorry guys, they may not help you

Researchers from Université Laval in Canada recruited 125 overweight men and women for their study. All of the participants were put on a 12-week weight-loss diet, which was followed by a 12-week period of body weight maintenance. During the entire study, half the subjects took two probiotic pills a day while the other half received a placebo.

Results showed that women who took the probiotic pills lost an average of 4.4kg (about 10 pounds), while the women who took the placebo only lost 2.6 kg (about 6 pounds). Weight loss differences weren't seen in the male group.

"We don't know why the probiotics didn't have any effect on men," said study leader Angelo Tremblay, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance. "It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short."

Lasting results

What was surprising was that, after the maintenance period, women who were taking the probiotics continued to lose weight – averaging about twice as much weight loss as the women in the placebo group over the course of the entire study.

According to Tremblay, probiotics can alter the permeability of the intestinal wall, which keeps inflammatory agents from entering the bloodstream and leading to the reactions that cause obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Source: Universite Laval

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