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Research trends this last year were increasingly focused on intestinal health and the “human micro biome”. Much investigation involved gut bacteria, probiotics, and the role they play in supporting overall health. Here are two studies we found interesting.
Good Bacteria May Boost Weight Loss
There is a link between gut flora and obesity. It was first discovered by comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals. This discovery led to studies on mice in which the bacterial flora from the colons of fat mice was switched with the flora from skinny mice. When the skinny mice were inoculated with the flora from fat mice, they became fat, and the fat mice became skinny with the flora from the skinny mice.
In the 2015 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial from Montréal, 125 overweight men and women followed a 12 week weight-loss plan, followed by 12 weeks of maintaining their weight loss. Throughout the study, half of the participants took 2 capsules daily of Lactobacillus rhamnosus with 3.2 billion CFUs. The other half were given a placebo.
After the 12 week diet portion of the study, the women in the probiotics group experienced an average weight loss of 4.4 kg: women in the placebo group lost 2.6 kg. After the maintenance period the weight of the women in the placebo group remained stable, while the probiotics group continued to loose weight at an average of 5.2 kg per person.
It seems that the women taking the probiotics lost twice as much weight over a 24 week period as the women taking the placebo. Interestingly, no differences in weight loss were observed among the men in the two groups.
Improving ADHD and Autism with Probiotics
Gastrointestinal disturbances are common in children with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome. One theory that was tested this last year, was that lower levels of beneficial gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria can lead to an increase in toxin producing bacteria such as Clostridium. Altered gut flora contributes to increased gut permeability, causing the body to absorb toxins and partially digested bits of food, which should not be normal and causes problems. This faulty absorption alters the body’s immune responses potentially affecting brain cells
A study done in Finland recruited 159 pregnant mothers and gave them 1 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, or a placebo, daily for four weeks before delivery. After the babies were born, the probiotics (or placebo) was given to the children or the mothers (if they were breastfeeding) for 6 months.
Results showed that ADHD or autism was diagnosed in 17% of children in the placebo group. In the probiotics group, none of the children developed either condition. This led researchers to conclude that “Probiotic supplementation early in life may reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric disorder development later in childhood.” Some very promising news in deed.