Normally the food that we eat is digested and absorbed
into our system, while what is not absorbed is eliminated. Study researcher
Peter Jones of the University of Manitoba, Canada, and his colleagues believe
that probiotics interfere with the absorption so that more calories were lost
through excretion and less were absorbed.
Probiotics are active bacterial
cultures that have the ability to modify the ecology of gut -colonizing
bacteria. Beneficial bacteria are known to soothe the stomach, improve
depression, and even fight sinus infections.
Other studies had indicated that
gut bacteria alters the way calories are absorbed from food and this prompted
Jones and his colleagues to do a little more study and see if these friendly
bacteria could bring about weight loss.
The study was carried out on a
small number of people who were slightly overweight. All the food that the
participants consumed during the course of the study was provided by the
Jones' team administered a daily
serving of yogurt to 28 overweight volunteers. The yogurt administered to 50%
of the participants was spiked with bacteria Lactobacillus fermentum and the
remaining 50% with Lactobacillus
After a month and a half, it was
observed that those who ate the L. fermentum probiotic supplements had reduced
3 percent of their body fat and those eating L. amylovorus had reduced 4
percent. Most of the fat loss occurred in the belly area and this could be
connected with increased risk for heart disease.
The researchers suggest that the bacteria reduced body fat by preventing the
absorption of food by the intestine.
Bile salts secreted by the liver
are vital for the digestion of fats. The probiotic bacteria destroy the bile
salts and interfere with the break down and absorption of fats. The
side-effects too were minimal.
However, a diet including
probacteria might not exclude the need for a healthy diet and exercise.
The results of this
study have been published in the Journal
of Functional Foods.