Certain probiotics could help women lose weight: Quebec study

Watch the video above: Some probiotics could help women lose weight. Crystal Goomansingh reports. 

TORONTO – Probiotic yogurt has been celebrated as a healthy snack that helps regulate your digestive system, feeds good bacteria into your gut and keeps disease at bay. But now Quebec researchers suggest that certain probiotics can even help with weight loss in women.

At least, the probiotic yogurt that’s available in Europe.

Researchers at Laval University in Quebec City say that probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family may hold the key to helping women with weight loss.

“This is the type of finding that occasionally generates an excess of enthusiasm. We rather perceive (it) as a small step toward a good direction, that it might help some individuals control their body weight,” lead author Dr. Angelo Tremblay told Global News.

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He says he’s not overhyping his results. It isn’t a “magic pill having the potential to normalize the body weight status of obese individuals,” Tremblay said.

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Tremblay is also the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity, Nutrition and Energy Balance. He partnered with researchers in Switzerland for the study published Wednesday in the British Journal of Nutrition.

(The yogurt that contains the Lactobacillus rhamnosus is made by Nestle.)

In his study, Tremblay recruited 125 overweight men and women and put them on a 12-week weight-loss diet followed by another 12 weeks of maintaining their body weight.

Studies have suggested that the internal bacteria of obese people aren’t the same as their thinner counterparts. Tremblay suggests that may have to do with their diet: a high-fat, low-fibre diet might promote certain bacteria at the expense of others.

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Tremblay and his team sought out determine if certain probiotics could reset this balance of intestinal bacteria and help heavier people gain bacteria that helped maintain a healthy weight.

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Throughout the study, half the group swallowed two daily probiotic pills while the other half took a placebo. After 12 weeks, women who took the probiotics lost 4.4 kgs or 9.7 pounds while the placebo group lost 2.6 kgs or 5.7 pounds.

The strange thing is that the scientists found no disparity in weight loss in men.

“We don’t know why the probiotics didn’t have any effect on men. It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short,” Tremblay said.

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Even after the 12-week period, the women in the probiotic group continued to lose weight while the placebo group maintained their weight.

In the end, the women taking probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period. The researchers also documented a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin.

Tremblay suggests that the probiotics could be altering the intestinal wall’s barrier. By blocking certain inflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, they might be helping to prevent the chain reaction that leads to glucose intolerance, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The yogurt isn’t available in North America right now but it’s being tested in Europe. Even then, Tremblay says other probiotics found in dairy products could play a similar role.

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He also said that the benefits of probiotics needs to be paired with promoting good nutrition that included low-fat, high-fibre foods.

Probiotics have already been tied to helping with intestinal issues, lowering blood pressure, keeping infections at bay and even making diners feel more satiated.

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