Weight loss- it’s what’s inside that counts!
The over-indulgence of the Christmas period leaves a lot of people with a New Year problem, a few extra pounds. Recent initiatives such as the NHS “change 4 life” and the healthy meals for schoolchildren aim to improve our diets. However, a recent review has shown that it’s not just about calorific intake; the type of bacteria in your gut could also be responsible.
When fed a healthy, balanced diet, gastrointestinal bacteria aid digestion of food and increase the level of satiety after eating. However, a bad diet, one which is high in fat and low in fibre, causes an imbalance of bacteria in the intestines which is known as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis increases the risk of obesity and also leads to an array of unhealthy effects such as; higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (a bad fat which can lead to heart disease), increased fat storage and new fat formation.
But here is the good news, dysbiosis can be reversed. Two types of products, probiotics and prebiotics, can be consumed to help this process. Probiotics, such as Yakult, are readily available and have become household names. These drinks provide a dose of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria, beneficial microbes for the gut. Their counterparts, prebiotics, are less well-known. Prebiotics are edible, non-digestible fibres or sugars that selectively enhance the growth of probiotic bacteria. The role that these products can have in controlling weight has been investigated.
When given to expecting mothers, lactobacillus (a probiotic) and maltodextrin (a prebiotic) can help prevent obesity in their children for up to 10 years. This is achieved as mothers pass on bacteria through breastfeeding and childbirth. Importantly, adults can also benefit from these foods too. Many studies have shown that adults who take pro and prebiotics had better weight control and significant visceral fat loss.
Everyone can benefit from maintaining a healthy balanced diet, but perhaps we should pay some more attention to what’s inside us all. Helping out or stocking up on beneficial gastrointestinal bacteria with pre and probiotics could help us be a slimmer, healthier nation.