Good News in the New Year!

Probiotics Found to Provide Support for Weight
Management and Metabolic Goals

Natural health practitioners and whole health enthusiasts have long touted the digestive benefits of friendly bacteria. With a wide range of consumers taking probiotics as part of a daily supplement regimen, science is discovering an interesting list of “side benefits” associated with probiotics. That includes a connection between beneficial bacteria and weight loss and weight management.

In a recent study, people who exercised, ate well, and consumed a probiotic-infused drink daily for twelve weeks saw more significant support for healthy weight management than those who relied on exercise and diet alone. How could these hard-working, friendly microbes affect a person’s metabolism to lose weight?

The answer, scientists say, is likely found in three primary probiotic functions: their crucial role in the digestion of needed nutrients, their support for the body’s ability to detoxify itself, and their intriguing positive effects on mood and energy levels.

Dig a little deeper, and that threefold synergy becomes quite clear.

Probiotics digest essential nutrients and manufacture some of our needed vitamins. When the internal flora balance is compromised, those good bacteria guys can’t do their job efficiently, explained Ross Pelton, RPh, CCN, PhD, Science Director for Essential Formulas. “That means the body may miss out on certain nutrient building blocks, even if the person eats a very healthy diet.”

What happens then? The body kicks in with cravings—strong ones. Even if an individual is diligently eating well, on a cellular level, the body feels short-changed! Ironically, those cravings are usually focused on desperate, quick-energy foods—sugary, starchy foods that further compromise probiotic health and contribute to weight gain.

Dr. Pelton said that maintaining probiotic balance can help ensure that all the nutrients in a person’s daily diet are absorbed into the body. “It even appears that a healthier flora balance is connected to appropriate appetite signaling,” he said. This net effect is likely due to probiotics’ influence on overall nutrient uptake and healthy internal pH.

As living organisms, probiotics set up shop in the gut, crowding out less friendly elements and producing pH-altering chemicals that make the internal environment more hospitable for themselves and their host. That leads to the probiotics’ role in supporting internal detoxification, a topic now getting a little more attention in weight management circles.

The theory is that the body deals with everyday toxin exposure by encapsulating nasty particles in fat. So, supporting the body’s detoxification ability is vital in promoting healthy fat storage and metabolism. “Probiotics help the body detoxify itself by preventing new toxins from even entering the bloodstream and by supporting the body’s process for flushing out toxins already in the system,” said Dr. Pelton.

In addition to maintaining overall nutrient uptake and internal detoxification, a healthy flora balance also has complicated benefits for mood and energy levels. “Most of the mood-affecting neurochemicals produced in the brain are also produced in the gut—by probiotic organisms,” said Dr. Pelton. Believe it or not, having “a gut feeling” may have a literal basis!

One of the significant side benefits reported by people taking probiotic supplements is a sense of stable mood and energy. In fact, according to research being conducted at Columbia University, there are strong connections between digestive health and mental wellness. It’s not solely that the body feels more balanced from healthy nutrient uptake. That’s helpful, but probiotics produce some of the feel-good neurochemicals. Even more, the gut has its own nervous system (the enteric nervous system) that lets it function independently of the brain and makes it possible for the gut to communicate with the brain. That nervous system messaging is the most positive and mood-balancing when gut flora and pH are in balance.

This mood and energy boost often differ between sticking with a healthy lifestyle change… or letting a New Year’s resolution slide.

The surprising synergetic support for healthy metabolism is another reason to add a high-quality multi-strain probiotic to any whole, healthy lifestyle!