Our gut’s probiotics have everything to do with our ability to lose weight. Ever wonder why some people seem to have more inflammation, fatigue and obesity than others despite their best efforts? Recent research confirms this is related to the diversity of our gut’s probiotic bacteria.

In other words, the science has continued to discover that obesity is related to our gut’s microbiome. And studies have now found that probiotic supplementation can help us lose weight.

Probiotics reduce weight and body fat

The most recent study comes from Finland’s University of Helsinki. Here researchers tested 225 adult volunteers who had BMIs (body mass index) ranging from 28 to 35. They divided the subjects into groups. Those given a probiotic supplement consisting of 13-14 billion CFUs of Bifidobacterium lactis (B420) per day. Others were given a placebo.

The researchers found the probiotic supplementation resulted in a 4.5 percent reduction in body fat mass compared to the placebo group. The probiotic group also had significant reductions in waist circumference, with an average of 2.4 percent.

A 2013 study from Japan tested 210 overweight adults. They divided the people into two groups. One group was given a placebo and the other was given a fermented milk with 100 million CFUs of Lactobacillus gasseri (SBT2055). The treatment lasted for 12 weeks.

The subjects’ abdominal visceral fat regions were measured with computed tomography at the beginning and the end of the treatment period. They also measured body mass index, body fat mass and waist and hip circumferences.

The researchers found the probiotic treatment reduced visceral fat by 8.2 percent. They also had reduced BMI and waist and hip circumferences at the end of the study.

Greater probiotic diversity = lower risk of obesity

Human clinical research from France has found that the more genetic diversity our gut bacteria have, the lower our tendency for inflammation, obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

The research comes from France’s Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute of Agronomic Research or INRA). In a study that culminated from a decade of progressive research linking probiotics to obesity, over 75 prominent European researchers assembled to gather and analyse the data from 292 patients.

The researchers tested 123 obese Danish people, along with 169 non-obese Danes. They conducted medical examinations on each individual, measuring not only their weight and body fat, but their level of insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular condition and general inflammation parameters.

The researchers also tested the makeup of each individual’s gut bacteria which was done through DNA analysis, which tests the genetic diversity of the probiotic bacteria living within the gut.

The research found that 23% of the entire group of 292 had low levels of diversity – which the researchers referred to as “bacterial richness.” This 23% had an average of 380,000 genes, while the average gene count of those with more diverse bacteria had a count of 640,000 genes on average.

More importantly, the researchers found that those with lower probiotic diversity had significantly greater levels of obesity, higher cholesterol levels, more insulin resistance and a greater level of inflammatory conditions.

Those with lower levels of probiotic diversity also would struggle more with their weight. The researchers noted:

“The obese individuals were among the lower bacterial richness group and were also more likely to gain more weight over time.”

In their investigation of the strains of probiotics that directly led to greater probiotic diversity, the researchers found that the species of Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus were associated with greater gene microbiota diversity. They also found that pathogenic microorganism genus’ such as Bacteroides and Ruminococcus were linked to lower levels of genetic diversity.

It should be added that the former group of probiotic bacteria have been linked in other research to being anti-inflammatory, while those in the second (pathogenic) group have been associated in other research as being pro-inflammatory microorganisms.

Another French study – a partner study within MetaHIT, a European Union-commissioned organisation focused on solving obesity and metabolic disease among western countries – also linked lower probiotic gene diversity with greater levels of inflammation.

In this study, 49 obese or overweight patients were tested for gene diversity among their intestinal bacteria. The researchers found that 40% of the group had lower levels of probiotic gene diversity, and these individuals also had greater levels of “low-grade inflammation” and general “dys-metabolism” when compared to the rest of the group.

New research from Kings College in the UK and Cornell University has found the key to this individualistic metabolism: Our gut bacteria – defined genetically as our microbiome.

Microbiome research confirms weight loss link to gut bacteria

The researchers conducted a multi-pronged study that first investigated the relationship between ones genes and their gut bacteria. This was done by testing foecal samples from 416 sets of twins – both identical (monozygotic) and non-identical (dizygotic) twins.

The research found that identical (monozygotic) twins were most likely to also share the same types of gut bacteria. The foecal samples allowed the researchers to run DNA scans which analyse the range of genes.

The research also found that a particular family of bacteria dominated the microbiota of those twins that had a low body mass index (BMI). The predominant family found among low-BMI people is called Christensenellaceae, whilst the prominent bacteria species found among the skinnier people was Christensenella minuta. (The microbiota is the range of different species of gut bacteria, and in this case it was found by analysing the faeces.)

And because parents will typically pass on their microbiota to their children, this also means that weight management abilities are also somewhat inherited. But because our microbiota is also determined by our diets, this also means that our diets and the diets of our parents are connected to our ability to lose weight.

Healthier diet linked

This study also found that a healthier diet with fewer processed carbohydrates (especially junk food) led to higher scores of genetic diversity. However, the dietary intervention did not work as well for those with lower levels of genetic diversity at the beginning of the study:

“Dietary intervention improves low gene richness and clinical phenotypes, but seems to be less efficient for inflammation variables in individuals with lower gene richness.”

In other words, a diet that aids the growth of healthy probiotics with prebiotics help reduce weight and inflammation, but the problem of lower levels of probiotics in the gut must also be focused upon.