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Do Probiotics Help?

One of the most popular selling supplements over the past several years have been probiotics.  

Here is the basic concept behind their usage:  The human body contains billions if not trillions of organisms that inhabit various parts of our bodies, most notably the gastrointestinal tract.  

Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. Bacteria is usually viewed in a negative light as something that makes you sick. However, you have two kinds of bacteria constantly in and on your body — “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and working well (supposedly).  

The positive impact of probiotics are purportedly to:

  • Help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your body’s community of microorganisms return to a healthy condition after being disturbed
  • Produce substances that have desirable effects
  • Influence your body’s immune response.
  • Help with digestion
  • Lower inflammation, particularly of the gastrointestinal tract.

To the weight loss arena: Do probiotics play a significant role in helping people control weight?  Although Mr. Google will pop out LOTS of articles about the beneficial impact of probiotics on weight control, digging deep into the literature will not provide much documentation about this supposedly positive impact.    

I certainly could find no studies showing any damaging impacts on weight control with probiotic usage.  HOWEVER, once again, I will emphasize that “weight loss” is never about a “pill”, whether this be a prescription, probiotics or other supplements.  Long-term weight control requires a behavioral modification/life-style change approach.  So I suppose the only “damaging” thing about probiotics would be that if people taking this believe that alone, the probiotic will produce significant weight loss that stays off, they will not take the appropriate steps that are truly required for long-term weight control.

So, in conclusion:  Probiotics may be helpful for certain GI issues and perhaps general whole body “wellness” but they are certainly no “magic” solution to weight control.  (Not that there exists any “magic” to weight control with anything else!)

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