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Issue 69: Probiotics--More Than Digestive Health?

The University of Copenhagen and a noted Danish food company have been busy lately studying how probiotics may help with weight management, among other things. They have been, in fact, engaged in a weight management research project called “ProSat.”

The aim of their studies? They want to develop scientifically-tested and documented probiotics to be used in food and nutraceuticals that will result in users feeling full.† And they have in their sights those who are of standard weight or just slightly overweight, in order to offer weight management

“This project will significantly improve our understanding of the bacterial intestinal flora’s importance in individual weight management,”† said Professor Arne Vernon Astrup, MD, DMSc, who co-represents the University of Copenhagen in the project. “Initial results in a previous research project indicate that specific probiotic derivates do have an interesting satiety effect.† It is much too early to draw any conclusions, but if this project demonstrates a link between probiotics and satiety, consumers around the world will have a groundbreaking new, documented means to help them maintain a healthy weight balance.”†

Ongoing research on the various probiotic strains demonstrated that some strains were more suited to particular health benefits than others and that some strains may function better in older digestive systems than younger ones.

Additional studies indicate that probiotics may also serve new moms in their weight management goals.† In fact, a study suggests that probiotics—particularly those carrying the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains—given during the first trimester of pregnancy may help women better manage their weight after the birth of their baby.†

That could mean yet another benefit to probiotic consumption: weight management.†

Then there’s the indication that probiotics might even glean cognitive or mood benefits.

That is, at least, what probiotics pioneer, Netherlands-based Yakult says that preliminary research is indicating.† They note that the interrelationship between the nervous systems of the gut and the brain have something to do with these positive effects. The research, led by A. Venket Rao of the University of Toronto, found that probiotics increased the “good” bacteria in the stomachs of those studied and also led to a better outlook and mood.†

Interestingly, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains come into play here, too. The researchers found that 73 percent of subjects taking the probiotic experienced an increase in levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in the gut—and those increased levels corresponded with significant decreases in negative moods and outlooks. †

The report indicates that Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria appear to increase levels of tryptophan in the brain, a chemical that "helps people feel better."† In turn, tryptophan helps produce the calming neurotransmitter serotonin†.

And these researchers may be on to something, as more than 95% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut. Studies, in fact, indicate that healthy bacteria, such as those found in probiotics, have a direct impact on mood and behavior by influencing the production of brain chemicals including serotonin and GABA. †

Lead researcher Rao said, "We were quite excited with the fact that these were positive results and we felt that probiotics truly have a role to play in mood and behavior.Ӡ

Their findings were published in the journal BMC Gut Pathogens.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.


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