As the importance of the microbiome throughout the body spends an increasing amount of time n the spotlight, it’s natural that many of us have looked into probiotics for weight loss. After all, if there is a relationship between the bacteria that naturally live in our gut and our mental health, nutrient absorption, and everything in between, then it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that it could also play a role in reducing the number on the bathroom scale, too, right?
Why Research is Studying Probiotics for Weight Loss
Scientists have known for many years that the gut microbiota – friendly bacteria living in the digestive system – is different among people who have obesity than it is among people with an average body mass.
This drove researchers to examine the impact on probiotics for weight loss, to see if changing the balance of the gut microbiota could help ease the process. In mice studies in which friendly gut bacteria from different people was implanted into mice that didn’t have any gut bacteria at all, what they found was:
- Weight stayed the same in the mice that received the gut bacteria from people with an average body mass.
- Weight was gained in the mice that received gut bacteria from a person who had obesity.
These findings suggested that gut bacteria can play a role in weight regulation.
For ethical reasons, human studies are isolated to comparison research scientists have done on patients with Clostridioides difficile (C. diff.) overgrowth infections. C. diff. is a type of harmful gut bacteria and is sometimes treated with a fecal transplant. This involves placing a healthy person’s stool into the colon of someone with the C. diff. infection.
Researchers have found that patients who were naturally on the thinner side but who receive a fecal transplant sometimes become overweight over time. Since the obesity rate in the United States right now is about 40 percent, it means that there is approximately a 40 percent likelihood that a healthy fecal transplant sample came from someone with obesity. With this microbiota transplant, it could help to explain the unexpected weight gain in the patients who would not otherwise struggle with their weight regulation.
Should You Start Using These Supplements for Losing Weight?
A healthy microbiome can make it easier to regulate your weight overall and to experience better overall wellness. However, as far as quality research is concerned, there isn’t anything substantial enough yet to suggest that you can use probiotics for weight loss.
While studies do show that the microbiome plays a role in weight regulation, and it may be that the bacteria from a person with obesity can contribute to weight gain, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that changing your bacteria balance through probiotics will help you to lose weight. There have yet to be studies that indicate that supplements of probiotics for losing weight will work.
It’s also important to understand that there are a very large number of different strains of beneficial gut bacteria, and they don’t all play the same role. Therefore, while it remains too early to recommend probiotics for losing weight, it isn’t out of the question that it may happen one day in the future, following a great deal of additional research.