Probiotics and weight management.

This was recently sent to me by the nice folks at Optibac probiotics. It’s a bit heavy on the technical & qualification side, but that’s all to the good. Anyway, it’s well worth plowing through!


Probiotics and weight management.


Some research exists to suggest that probiotics can help with weight management – but how does that work, and how sound is the research?

Can Probiotics help with Weight Loss? 


In 2006 a seminal study[1] published in the well-respected journal, Nature, showed a clear difference in the gut bacteria of obese people as opposed to their lean counterparts. What’s more, when obese participants later lost weight, their gut bacteria reverted back to those observed in lean participants.


Since then, smaller studies continue to support the theory that gut bacteria could influence weight. In 2009 a trial[2] found that women who took Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding were less likely to be obese 6 months following birth. 25% of the women who had received dietary advice alongside probiotic supplementation had excess abdominal fat, as opposed to in 43% of women who had received dietary advice with a placebo.


Could we be doing more to fight the obesity epidemic? 


In 2010 a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled (pretty darn reliable!) trial in Japan[3] found a Lactobacillus probiotic reduced abdominal fat by 4.6% and subcutaneous fat (just below the skin) by 3.3%.  The trial recruited 87 overweight participants and randomly assigned a daily dose of fermented milk either with or without the probiotics, for a period of 12 weeks.  The probiotic group given milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055, showed significant decreases in body weight BMI, in waist circumference, and in the hips.


How could Probiotics encourage Weight Loss? 

No one knows for certain just yet, but mechanisms could include:

  • Better breakdown of foods (a well understood benefit of probiotics).
  • Displacement of pathogenic bacteria associated with weight gain.
  • Stimulating the body’s production of natural substances associated with decreased body fat.
    • L. acidophilus was found in a small animal study in 2008[5] to increase the body’s production of leptin (a protein commonly accepted to decrease appetite and increase metabolism) and to result in weight loss.


    • In 2010 scientists inIrelandfound another Lactobacillus probiotic to influence the fat composition of the host, via production of the fatty acid t10, c12 CLA; a molecule previously associated with decreased body fat.


  • Correlation between obesity & digestive health issues such as constipation. Fascinating ongoing research in the USA by Dr Mark Pimental suggests that those with constipation could be absorbing more calories, potentially because when the gut performs at a slower rate the body has more time to absorb calories.[6]  As probiotics could help to support bowel regularity (especially well-researched strains such as Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12Ò, found in “For maintaining regularity” [7],[8]), a more efficient digestive process could lead to fewer calories being absorbed.


Moving Forward 

InEnglandour rates of obesity have doubled over the last 25 years, with 60% of adults overweight or obese [9]. Any natural support in tackling this obesity epidemic could therefore play a fundamental role in the future.  Currently evidence remains too sparse for any firm conclusions, although the results certainly look promising.  Of course we needn’t tell you that taking a holistic approach and also looking at diet, fitness and exercise is always to be encouraged. Recommending a high quality probiotic supplement could certainly be a good idea, whether it encourages weight loss for your customers, or simply supports digestive health in those who may be changing their diet and lifestyle in order to lose weight.


For your people looking to lose weight, we recommend a high quality daily probiotic. “For daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength” contains 20 billion high quality Lactobacillus  & Bifidobacteria probiotics.



L. acidophilus NCFM is thought to be the most researched strain of acidophilus in the world. Find it in For daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength.


One (Very Good) Reason to Take Probiotics!


Ok.  I know that we constantly bang on about the science; the fact that we use well-researched strains instead of generic species; the fact that they are tested for shelf stability, survival through gastric acidity and so on.  And don’t get me wrong, we will continue to do so until everyone knows and appreciates the difference between L. acidophilus Rosell-52, L. acidophilus NCFM and L. acidophilus [blank]!


But today I’d like to show you that the proof is in the pudding.  We’ve been collecting reviews directly from customers for a few months now, via an external review site.  That means no cheating, no making up reviews – people can only review the products if they’ve actually taken the products. And guess what?  They’re loving the range and feeling great on their OptiBac.


Please take a look at our customer feedback here. We’re so proud of it and want to show it off!  At the end of the day, if these 60+ reviews aren’t enough reason to recommend a particular brand, I don’t know what is!




1.Bajzer, M, & Seeley, R. ‘Phsyiology: Obesity and Gut Flora.’ Nature, 2006, Vol. 444, pp.1009 -1010.

2.News release, 17th European Congress on Obesity. 17th European Congress on obesity meeting,Amsterdam,Netherlands, May 6-9, 2009.

3. Y. Kadooka et al., ‘Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomised controlled trial.’  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010, vol. 64, No. 6, pp.636-643.

4. Rosberg-Cody, E. ‘Recombinant Lactobacilli expressing linolic acid isomerise can modulate the fatty acid composition of host adipose tissue in mice’.  Microbiology, Dec, 22, 2012 DOI: 10. 1099/mic.0.043406-0.

5. R. Sousa et al., ‘Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus supernatants on body weight and leptin expression in rats’.  BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008, 8:5 doi: 10.1186/6882-8-5.

6. BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 8th March 2011 2100-2130h ‘Programme no. 9 – gut bacteria’ Radio science unit. Presented by Mark Porter; contributors: Glenn Gibson, Christine Edwards, Thomas Broody, Alisdair Macchonnachie, Mark Pimentel & Ian Rowland.

7. Matsumoto, M. et al. (2001) Effect of yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 in improving fecal microflora and defecation of healthy volunteers.  Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 14(2): pp.97-102.

8. Pitkala, K, H. et al. (2007) Fermented cereal with specific Bifidobacteria normalises bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents.  A randomised, controlled trial. Journal of Nutriitonal Health and Ageing; 11.(4): pp.305-311.


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