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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

Probiotics Help Women Lose Weight but Not Men in New Study

Probiotics are growing in popularity in U.S. for weight loss and other health uses - see attached information about probiotics from National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines

Are probiotics good for your health? Read opinion of Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, Director National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine below news report.

Jan. 28, 2014 - Certain probiotics could help women – but not men - lose weight and keep it off, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition by a team of Canadian researchers, who were joined by Swiss researchers from the Nestlé company, which owns the probiotics used in the study.

Studies have already demonstrated that the intestinal flora - the bacteria normally within the lumen of the intestine - of obese individuals differs from that of thin people. That difference may be due to the fact that a diet high in fat and low in fiber promotes certain bacteria at the expense of others. The reseach team tried to determine if the consumption of probiotics could help reset the balance of the intestinal microbiota (microscopic living organisms) in favor of bacteria that promote a healthy weight.

To test their hypothesis, researchers headed by Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada) Professor Angelo Tremblay recruited 125 overweight men and women.


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The subjects underwent a 12-week weight-loss diet, followed by a 12-week period aimed at maintaining body weight. Throughout the entire study, half the participants swallowed 2 pills daily containing probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family, while the other half received a placebo.

Editor’s Note: The Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain used in this study belongs to Nestlé, which uses it in certain yogurts it makes for the European market, but Professor Tremblay believes that the probiotics found in dairy products in North America could have a similar effect to the Nestlé strain. He stresses, however, that the benefits of these bacteria are more likely to be observed in a favorable nutritional context that promotes low fat and adequate fiber intake.

After the 12-week diet period, researchers observed an average weight loss of 4.4 kg in women in the probiotic group and 2.6 kg in the placebo group.

However, no differences in weight loss were observed among males in the two groups. "We don't know why the probiotics didn't have any effect on men. It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short," says Professor Tremblay, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance.

After the 12-week maintenance period, the weight of the women in the placebo group had remained stable but the probiotic group had continued to lose weight, for a total of 5.2 kg per person. In short, women consuming probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study. Researchers also noted a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin in this group, as well as a lower overall concentration of the intestinal bacteria related to obesity.

According to Tremblay, probiotics may act by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall. By keeping certain proinflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, they might help preventing the chain reaction that leads to glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.


In addition to Angelo Tremblay, the study's coauthors are Marina Sanchez, Jean Doré, Vicky Drapeau, André Marette, Geneviève Chevrier, and Emmanuelle St-Amand from Université Laval, as well as nine researchers from the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Are Probiotics Good for Your Health?

By Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director,

July 18, 2013 - Probiotics are gaining in popularity in the United States, and chances are you’ve heard about them as “good bacteria” or seen them advertised in your supermarket’s yogurt aisle. But what are probiotics, and do they have any real health benefits?

Probiotics are live microorganisms—bacteria, for example—that are either the same or similar to microorganisms found naturally in our bodies. Although we tend to think of bacteria as harmful “germs,” many bacteria actually help the body function properly. Probiotics are available as dietary supplements and in dairy foods, and our research tells us that probiotics are among the top five natural products used for children. It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any health claims for probiotics; however, there is some evidence that probiotics may be helpful for conditions such as acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and possibly atopic eczema.

There is information on NCCAM’s Web site about what the science says about the safety and effectiveness of probiotics. I encourage you to take a look at this information, particularly if you are considering a probiotic dietary supplement, and talk to your health care provider. As always, take care and be well!

What are Probiotics

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called "friendly bacteria" or "good bacteria." Probiotics are available to consumers mainly in the form of dietary supplements and foods.

5 Things To Know About Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that are either the same as or similar to microorganisms found naturally in the human body and may be beneficial to health. If you picture the human body as a “host” for bacteria and other microorganisms, you might have a better understanding of probiotics. The body, especially the lower gastrointestinal tract (the gut), contains a complex and diverse community of bacteria. Although we tend to think of bacteria as harmful “germs,” many bacteria actually help the body function properly.

Probiotics are available to consumers in oral products such as dietary supplements and yogurts, as well as other products such as suppositories and creams. It is important to be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any health claims for probiotics. Here are some other things you should know:

1.   There is some evidence that probiotics may be helpful for acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and atopic eczema (a skin condition most commonly seen in infants).

2.   Although some probiotic formulations have shown promise in research, strong scientific evidence to support other uses of probiotics for most conditions is lacking.

3.   Studies suggest that probiotics usually have few side effects. However, the data on safety, particularly long-term safety, are limited, and the risk of serious side effects may be greater in people who have underlying health conditions.

4.   Probiotic products may contain different types of probiotic bacteria and have different effects in the human body. The effects also may vary from person to person.

5.   If you are considering a probiotic dietary supplement, talk to your health care provider first. Do not replace scientifically proven treatments with unproven products or practices.

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