Probiotics: Miracle obesity cure or too good to be true?
Rahul Anand discusses the potential use of probiotics in aiding weight loss among the clinically obese.
Due to the recent wave of “health” products that have come out over the past few years, I am sure everyone reading this will have at one point or another heard of probiotics. Some view them as a miracle fat loss cure, while others see them as just another health fad that will eventually disappear. Well, like most things in life, rather than being black and white, the situation is more nuanced than that. A recent scientific paper seems to provide evidence that probiotics can aid weight loss for people who are clinically obese.
As mentioned above, many of you have probably heard of them, but how many of you can explain what the term actually means? The term probiotics, means a group of bacteria and yeasts promoted as having many health benefits by improving/ restoring the gut microbiota.
Due to the increased research interest in the impact the human gut microbiome has on health and disease, more studies have been done looking at probiotics. These studies have linked probiotics to treating gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, lowering cholesterol and improving mental health.
The study that forms the basis of this article looks at a probiotic strain, Hafnia alvei, and its effects on improving weight loss in overweight individuals. The study was a double-blind trial of 236 individuals. Half of the participants were given the probiotic strain in a pill form whilst the other half were given a placebo and not even the study leaders knew who got which. The study incredibly found that the probiotic aided in a 3% weight loss in 55% of overweight individuals taking the probiotic.
The study incredibly found that the probiotic aided in a 3% weight loss in 55% of overweight individuals taking the probiotic
Now does this mean that Hafnia alvei is a miracle weight loss cure? Well, not exactly. This is because in the study all the participants were still put on a caloric deficit diet. The researchers found that the probiotic on its own would not aid weight loss, but it could aid weight loss in a person who is already on a caloric-deficient diet. The researchers hypothesised that this aided in weight loss because when taking the probiotic the participants felt more satiated (felt fuller), so would naturally eat less.
The researchers found that the probiotic on its own would not aid weight loss, but it could aid weight loss in a person who is already on a caloric-deficient diet
The findings of this study show promise in finding probiotics that could aid in weight loss. However, they should not be seen as a weight loss miracle or cure, but only a supplement that can aid weight loss.