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Probiotics show promise as weight loss supplement: How to use and where to find

Get your best bikini body with probiotics.
Photo by Frazer Harrison

What's the next big trend in weight loss supplements? Probiotics, which prevented obesity and insulin resistance in a new study reported in Health Central on July 23.

Researchers modified a bacterial strain that has provided a probiotic panacea for decades. They called the new compound NAPE and tested it on laboratory animals for eight weeks.

The study showed that the probiotic reduced the weight and body fat of the test group. When they repeated the tests after 12 weeks, the mice still showed the same benefits.

The therapeutic bacteria unveiled in the study requires more research before it can be tested in human clinical trials. But scientists are hopeful that the benefits found in laboratory animals will be replicated in people, reported Business Standard on July 23.

Based on their discovery, the scientists are hopeful that they have found a way to treat obesity. The study shows the potential of manipulating the gut microbiota, which has been shown to influence diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The new research supports previous studies showing that probiotics can help with weight loss. The British Journal of Nutrition recently reported on a 12-week trial conducted at Laval University in Quebec.

To conduct the study, researchers instructed 125 overweight individuals to follow a diet designed for weight loss for 12 weeks. They then shifted to a maintenance program for another 12 weeks.

Half of the participants took placebos, while the other half gulped down probiotic supplements. At the end of the study, women lost 9.7 pounds on average with the help of the probiotic supplement. Those given the placebos lost 5.7 pounds.

Even after the maintenance period ended, the women on the probiotics lost almost two pounds more. When researchers checked their gut bacteria, they found a reduction in the type linked to obesity.

How can you benefit? Probiotic microbiology consultant Mary Ellen Sanders told WebMD that she feels it's essential to read the label of foods and supplements carefully. She suggests purchasing only products with the complete probiotic name, including the genus, species and strain.

Examples recommended by Sanders include lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), which is found in Danimals drinkable yogurt and Culturelle capsules. She also suggests lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, available in DanActive products.

However, on a recent episode of his talk show, Dr. Mehmet Oz offered simpler guidelines. An advocate of probiotics for weight loss, he recommends eating plain Greek yogurt, pickles and fermented foods such as sauerkraut.

But if you're seeking specifics on probiotics, Dr. Oz also has highlighted different foods and supplements that contain unique strains of beneficial bacteria. Among his cultured cuisine conclusions: Lactobacillus rhamnosus battles obesity and insulin resistance.

Before you rush off to the store and load up on 50 shades of yogurt, beware. Avoid fat-free and sugar-added varieties of yogurt, said nutritionist JJ Virgin in an interview recently with Time magazine. "Yogurt, like other full-fat dairy, also has a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that studies show can improve fat-burning," she explained.