You’ve probably heard by now that eating foods containing good bacteria called probiotics can help promote digestion and keep you regular. Now new research finds probiotics may also help you lose weight.
According to a study published in the journal Cell by researchers at King’s College London and Cornell University the types of bacteria living in your gut influence whether you are fat or thin. And that can be determined in part by your genes.
The researchers studied 416 sets of twins. They identified a family of gut bacteria that is highly heritable. And it’s more common in thin people. When they transplanted the microbe into mice it protected against weight gain.
They also found that identical twins had more similar levels of these gut bacteria than non-identical twins did. That indicates that that their genes influenced the composition of their gut bacteria.
The family of “skinny” gut bacteria is called “Christensenellaceae.” This type of gut bacteria was more abundant in thin people than in the obese. And when they treated mice with this gut bacteria they gained less weight than untreated mice.
The human gut contains over 400 strains of bacteria and the mix of different strains in each person is very individual. This is just one strain. And besides genes your mix can be affected by diet, environment, and lifestyle.
You can increase your population of good gut bacteria by eating foods containing probiotics. In addition to regulating weight, probiotics
- promote a strong immune system;
- support healthy digestion;
- reduce the risk of diabetes;
- improve the amount of nutrients absorbed from food;
- help synthesize certain vitamins;
- boost mood
- protect against tooth decay;
- prevent diarrhea;
- help detoxify the body of BPA, heavy metals, and pesticides; and
- reduce the risk of colon and bladder cancers.
A healthy ratio of good probiotics to bad bacteria in your gut is 85/15. If you take antibiotics you disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Your gut bacteria can also be knocked out of whack by excessive alcohol use, stress, diseases and toxins. All of these allow harmful bacteria to thrive. To rebalance the scales, good bacteria or probiotics are needed to repopulate the gut.
Most Americans get their probiotics from yogurt. But most yogurt in the supermarket is junk food. Look for “live, active cultures” on the label. And always opt for organic, plain, full fat yogurt with no added sugars. Sugar feeds bad bacteria and leads to their overgrowth.
Lacto fermented foods are also natural sources of probiotics. These include kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, soy sauce, and kombucha. Sourdough bread is another good source.