Can a healthy microbiome prevent or treat obesity?
The worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, and today it is considered a global epidemic according to the WHO. Obesity can lead to many other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure.
On the other hand, probiotics are live non-pathogenic microorganisms. Many of these microorganisms are part of the normal human gut flora, where they live in a symbiotic relationship, and can be used as a dietary supplement to help with digestion and normal gut function that may be able to help prevent and treat obesity (Saif Ul Islam, MD, 2016).
The most frequent cause of obesity is the disbalance between energy intake (or calories) and energy expenditure. However, it goes beyond just calories in vs. calories out. Excess adipose tissue can affect our hormones and gut flora. A recent study has identified the gut microbiota as an environmental factor that influences the whole-body metabolism by affecting energy balance but also inflammation and gut barrier function. Consequently, the gut microbiota is gaining significant research interest in relation to obesity in an attempt to better understand the etiology of obesity and potentially new methods of its prevention and treatment (Savcheniuk OA).
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial was performed on eighty-seven generally healthy adults for 12 weeks. The participants were given Lactobacillus Gasseri from fermented milk and at the end of the study, they found that the intake of the probiotic Lactobacillus Gasseri showed significant reductions in abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat areas, as well as body weight, BMI, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat mass.
It is hard to conclude that probiotics can treat obesity; however, there is no doubt that a balanced diet that includes fermented foods and different coloured vegetables can help to treat or perhaps reverse certain conditions including obesity.
1. David, L. A., Maurice, C. F., Carmody, R. N., Gootenberg, D. B., Button, J. E., Wolfe, B. E., . . . Turnbaugh, P. J. (2014, January 23). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Retrieved July 03, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957428/
2. Duranti, S., Ferrario, C., Sinderen, D. V., Ventura, M., & Turroni, F. (2017). Obesity and microbiota: an example of an intricate relationship. Retrieved July 03, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473000/