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The Relationship between Probiotics, Weight and Health

Weight is a sensitive subject, and most of us have struggled with trying to lose a few (or more) pounds at some point in our lives. Diets, exercise, supplements, seaweed wraps, hypnotherapy — you name it, and someone you know has probably tried it.

Well, it turns out that we may be looking for solutions to our weight problems in all the wrong places. In our quest to eat less and exercise more, we’re overlooking what may be the key to consistent and maintainable weight loss: our gut microbes.

The relationship between probiotics, weight and health is significant. Research is clearly showing: Probiotics have a huge impact on our body weight and body mass index (BMI). In a recent meta-analysis, researchers analyzed nearly 2,000 adults from 25 trials and found that probiotic consumption reduced both weight and BMI, with improved results for subjects taking multi-strain probiotics and for those who took the beneficial bacteria for eight weeks or more.

In another study, women who took a daily dose of probiotics for 24 weeks showed significant reductions in body weight and fat mass compared to the placebo group.

So, how do probiotics help us manage our weight?

Scientists are still hashing out the connection between bacteria and weight, but we do know that overweight people tend to have different gut microbial compositions than their lean counterparts. Specifically, people who struggle with weight issues seem to have more of a type of bacteria called Firmicutes, while lean individuals have more Bacteroidetes.

Why does this matter? Well, bacteria in the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes families make up around 90 percent of all bacteria in our gut, so changes in their ratios can have a big effect on our health. And Firmicutes — due to their massive production of short-chain fatty acids — add to the number of calories we absorb each day, which may be one reason they are associated with being overweight and obese.

But, there’s much more to the story. An optimal relationship with probiotics keeps us healthy, happy and (if in balance), at our ideal weight. You can read more about it in The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss by Raphael Kellman.

Here are the top 4 ways your beneficial bacteria work to keep you feeling and looking your best:

1. They improve nutrient absorption.
2. They regulate hormones.
3. They reduce inflammation.
4. They balance blood sugar.

Here’s how to make you gut bacteria work for you (and your weight loss goals):

Research clearly shows that fortifying your gut with tons of good bacteria can help you lose weight and keep it off. So, what do you need to do to reap the benefits of bacteria?

Power up with probiotics.

You can try making your own fermented products for a start. Kefir, Kimchee and other pickled vegetables are easy as pie. Here’s my own kimchee recipe for you here.

Avoid unnecessary antibiotics.

Before you hit the Doctor’s surgery for antibiotics, increase your consumption of foods which have a natural antibiotic function. A few of my favourites are:

garlic (coughs, colds and general immunity)

ginger (coughs, colds, general immunity, inflammation)

propolis tincture (use for early cystitis, sore throat gargle),

Manuka honey (use on wounds/cuts, grazes)

Live a probiotic-rich life.

What does that mean exactly? Basically it means to maintain a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment. Don’t disinfect everything! It can kill off the good bacteria as well as the nasties. You need exposure to bacteria in order to stay in balance. However, you want to reduce your exposure to synthetics and toxins, so avoid these in your environment and eat a natural whole-food diet.

Feed your friendly flora.

Easy peasy. Eat a high fibre diet!  Probiotics’ favourite food source is prebiotic fibre, so a high-fibre diet is your best bet for keeping them alive. Indigestible for us, prebiotic fibers give the good microbes what they need to keep you healthy (think of it as fertilizer to a garden). Try bananas, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, and apples for a prebiotic punch. Just remember, when it comes to prebiotic foods, the more unrefined, the better.