Probiotics that have scientists in a tizzy. Studying probiotics has lead to a major break though in understanding obesity.
It has shown promise in helping cure heart diseases, cancer and diarrhea. (1)
Biologists will leave no stone unturned as they try to heal the common ails of our society. Even if that means diving deep into the belly of the beast and looking at the bacteria within our own guts.
Sit back, relax and read my compilation of information based on the accounts of reputable doctors and their scientific journals.
What are probiotics?
You might have heard of probiotics but if you’re like most people you probably don’t really know what they are. They aren’t just the healthy stuff that yogurts advertise or a just another pill your doctor tells you to take.
Probiotics are simply “good” bacteria which protect your body from “bad” bacteria. (2) Gut bacteria processes and breaks down the complex sugars in food into simple sugars which are then either used as energy or stored as fat. (3)
“Bad” bacteria creates harmful substances when breaking down complex sugars and probiotics or “good” bacteria creates non-harmful byproducts.
Although there are a lot of probiotics the ones that affect obesity have been narrowed down to two main types, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. (4)
Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes
There is a lot of stuff you can learn from sh*$%. Most of the new developments found in the field of gut bacteria have been scattered in scat.
Fecal bile acid profiling is a non-invasive and cost-effective way of monitoring what goes on in our intestines. (5) By looking at what comes out the other end scientists are able to deduce what goes on within.
In a study done comparing obese and non-obese participants’ excrement, scientists found that the percent of Bacteroidetes among fecal bacteria has no relationship to how much people weigh. (6)
Another such study examined two types of probiotics in rat excrement; rats and humans gut bacteria are similar with Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dominating. (7)
This study’s findings were a little bit different. They found that there was an imbalance in gut bacteria (Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes) in overweight rats. Their study theorized that by changing the levels of the bacteria in our stomachs we change how fat we are.
In order to prove their theory they fed rats with no gut bacteria the only thing they knew had been in the guts of the fat rats and contained the same imbalance of Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes — the fat rat’s scat. And sure enough the second batch of rats after eating their friends waste gained a lot of weight. (8) Thus proving, an imbalance in gut bacteria can slow down metabolism and cause more of what you eat to be turned into fat. (9)
Furthermore the percent of any type of probiotic may not affect your BMI. The ratio between different probiotics (Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes) does change your weight, for better or for worse.
While it’s scary to think that tiny little living things swimming in your stomach can determine whether or not your food gets used as energy or stored as fat, it is most important to remember that getting the right ratios of probiotics can help you lose weight.
Sustenance like yogurt, cheese, sour cream and even alcohol are all great sources of probiotics but in order to change what kind of probiotics are living inside you, you have to change the kind of prebiotics you eat.(10, 11)
Prebiotics are a type of fiber. They are the “food” that the probiotics “feed” on. (12)
To lose weight it is important to eat foods with prebiotics that will increase Bacteroidetes without increasing the amount of Firmicutes in your belly. Polyphenols change the conditions in your stomach so that firmicutes don’t grow as well but Bacteroidetes thrive. (13)
Foods and drinks rich in polyphenols such as apples, pears, grapefruit and green tea are the perfect kinds of food to eat if you are serious about losing weight.
Researching probiotics make us ask the question “How can I make sure I have the right kinds of bacteria living inside me?”
Prebiotics give us the answer. They tell us that as long as we eat whole foods with polyphenols we are at little risk of being overweight.
Probiotics give us an inside look on what happens inside us. Probiotics explain a lot about how gut bacteria, food and fat storage all work together to affect our weight. As more research is done on other probiotics besides Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes we hope to find out even more on exactly what foods we should be eating and how what we eat affects the ecosystem inside us. Studying probiotics doesn’t have to be another chore on your to do list but they are a good thing to think about when wandering the aisles of your local grocery store.