Anecdotally, some probiotics — usually beneficial bacteria — may aid weight loss, but what does the science say? In this Honest Nutrition feature, we investigate.
Some research also suggests that probiotics may affect weight loss.
However, there are safety concerns related to the widespread use of probiotic supplements as well.
This Special Feature discusses recent scientific findings related to probiotics and body weight.
Certain foods naturally contain probiotics, while some manufacturers add concentrated doses to other foods. However, this article focuses only on probiotic supplements.
Research into the health effects of probiotics has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, as have sales of probiotic supplements.
Even though scientists are still
Researchers have identified a relationship between the gut
Over 1,000 types of
These bacteria perform functions that impact overall health. Disruption to bacterial composition can result in adverse health outcomes, including disease.
It is important to note that research in this area is ongoing, and scientists are still unclear about how altered gut bacteria contribute to obesity.
However, studies have shown that people with overweight and obesity have different gut bacteria composition than people who are not overweight.
Although research is ongoing, studies have shown that probiotic supplementation may promote weight loss and prevent weight gain in humans.
A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis that included twelve randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 821 participants found that those who received probiotic supplementation had more significant reductions in body weight, waist circumference, body fat, and BMI than control groups.
Participants who received higher doses of probiotics and those who received a single strain rather than multiple strain probiotics saw greater body fat loss.
The review found that most of these improvements resulted from treatments containing bifidobacteria (B. breve, B. longum), Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus and lactobacilli (L. acidophilus, L. casei, and L. delbrueckii).
Additionally, some research suggests that probiotics may help protect against weight gain.
- increasing the amount of
short-chain fatty acid (SCFA)producing bacteria, which increase fatty acid oxidation and decrease fat storage
- decreasing inflammation by reducing the abundance of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) producers
- influencing appetite and metabolism
- reducing fat accumulation
- regulating pro-inflammatory genes
- improving insulin sensitivity
Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that research investigating the potential effects of probiotics on weight loss is ongoing. Although scientists have narrowed down several ways in which probiotics influence weight, they still do not know the exact mechanisms.
Some scientists have
This may lead to
Scientists have also warned that there are few reports about probiotic safety and that probiotic studies are often underpowered, poorly designed, and funded by probiotic companies, which may skew results.
Probiotic use may also lead to bacterial
It is essential to understand that, although probiotic supplements are widely used and prescribed by healthcare providers, scientists have
For this reason, people, especially those who are immunocompromised, should not take probiotics unless instructed by a qualified healthcare provider.
Research suggests that the microbiome influences body weight, and some studies have linked probiotic supplementation to decreased body fat, waist circumference, and BMI.
However, even though probiotics are widely used and prescribed by healthcare providers, there are questions regarding their safety. Researchers do not fully understand how probiotics may negatively and positively impact health.