Bugs may help fight fat

More research suggests probiotics may be a tool for weight loss.

Last year, a study suggested probiotics may help women lose weight and keep it off. Chubby men worldwide sighed in despair. But they no longer need to cry into their salads, without hope of a future where fat-blasting microbes with the slimming powers of Jillian Michaels could eat away their beer bellies. A small new study suggests a microbe milkshake may indeed help men lose weight.

In the new study, Virginia Tech researchers analyzed 20 healthy men who went on a high-fat and high calorie diet for four weeks. Some men also drank a milkshake that contained a commercial product,VSL#3, a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum. Other subjects consumed a placebo milkshake. The men who consumed the probiotic mix had lower body mass gain and fat accumulation than those who didn’t, according to the researchers.

How do the bugs blast fat? It could be that the bacteria help alter gut bacteria in a way that influences the system that regulates how the body absorbs nutrients, according to a Time.com post about the study. Or, the microbes may have reduced the body’s absorption of lipids or affected the way the body expends energy. The results appeared in the journal Obesity.

Probiotics continue to wiggle into mainstream media. Time noted the “growing awareness that our bacterial communities may influence our weight.”

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