Research has proven that Probiotics+Prebiotics help in creating a healthy gut, which in turn helps in making us stronger, healthier, and happier. But how exactly does good bacteria way down in the gut make systems all over the body better? How does it help in preventing or controlling diseases in other parts of the body? This series of articles aims to shed light on these questions and more, and this week, we talk about obesity.
World Health Organization has estimated that worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975; by 2035, more than 39% of the worldwide adult population will become obese; and by 2050, 60% of males and 50% of females will be obese. These are shocking numbers! Although Canadian rates are lower than other countries, it has steadily increased over the past decades, with numbers being higher among the aboriginal population.
- Obesity occurs when there is an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, assessed by body mass index (BMI) or the ratio of waist to hip circumference. Other obesity markers are waist circumference, total fat area, visceral fat, and ratio of visceral to subcutaneous fat area.
- High BMI is linked to excessive fat accumulation, inflammation, and chronic metabolic diseases like hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases. It is a complex condition involving socioeconomic, hormonal and neural mechanisms, unhealthy lifestyle, and genetic and epigenetic factors.
Human gut microflora is a complex ecosystem made up of trillions of micro-organisms and thousands of bacterial species that are involved in different metabolic functions. And most nutrient digestion and absorption occurs in this gut. In healthy individuals, 66–95% of proteins, 85% of carbohydrates, and 95% of fats are absorbed before entering the large intestine.
Gut microbiota plays a big role in the normal functioning of the metabolic and immune systems and an imbalance (called dysbiosis) may be viewed as a triggering factor for both metabolic and autoimmune diseases. Scientific studies have proposed that obesity is correlated to alterations in both gut microbiota function and composition, which in turn affect our energy metabolism.
Clinical data into the brain-gut axis (the bidirectional communication between the brain and the intestinal systems) show a strong connection between body weight composition and eating behavior in normal weight/obese patients, which appears to be related to our ability to mitigate anxiety symptoms and improve eating behavior, ultimately contributing to weight loss.
Let’s look at the scientific process closely…
- The microbiota in the gut breaks down non-digestible dietary sources, generates short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gases. The SCFAs promote greater secretion of GLP-1 hormone in the intestine, which stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas, which delays food leaving the stomach, thus promoting the feeling of fullness for longer.
- Butyrate, a type of SCFA, is involved in ensuring different types of cells are present in the gut and promotes GLP-2 hormone production – which prevents leaky gut and increases glucose transport, finally reducing inflammation and oxidative damage.
- Gut microbiota of obese people has low levels of anti-inflammatory bacteria and high levels of pathogens. This leads to decrease in SCFA production, which impairs intestinal barrier integrity and increases mucus degradation.
- Several studies have demonstrated the effects of changes in the gut microbiota and obesity - where decrease in bacterial diversity in the gut lead to higher C-reactive protein and leptin levels, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, weight gain and higher adiposity and inflammatory phenotype.
When it comes to treating obesity, lifestyle changes coupled with pre- and probiotic modulation of gut microbiota to mimic those found in healthy non-obese subjects is emerging as a strong form of therapy.
Several studies are showing the beneficial effects of consuming probiotics in maintaining body weight, body mass index, lipid profile, and inflammatory status. Micro-organism genera, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, and Enterococcus, along with supplementation of prebiotics (non-digested carbohydrates) enhance the growth and functions of the gut microbiota. Increasing dietary fiber intake with specific prebiotics may stimulate satiety hormones and enhance appetite control, which may help in body weight control.
Several individual studies where humans of certain ages were administered high doses of specific strains of beneficial bacteria showed the following results:
- body fat reduction
- intestinal barrier function improvement
- reduction in visceral adipose tissue, body weight, and body mass index
- improvement in waist circumference (WC) and WC/height ratio
- reversal of dysbiosis and normalization of gut microbiota
- reduction in hepatic fat deposition, modulating collagen expression and transforming growth factor-beta
- improvement in insulin sensitivity
- modification of bile acid metabolism, which influences cholesterol absorption in the gut lumen
In recent years, gut microflora has received great attention and all of it well-deserved. Clinical data shows that diverse microbiota supplemented through probiotics and prebiotics is useful to improve energy metabolism and body weight homeostasis in a healthy body.
The easiest way to improve our gut biome is through a balanced diet rich in fiber and fermented foods/drinks (such as sauerkraut, pickles, miso, certain types of yogurt, kefir, and kombucha). Get in touch with your gut bacteria today, feed it some tasty kombucha and ferments and feel the best you can feel!
Booch offers several fermented products in addition to our signature kombucha and jun drinks to help you strengthen your gut biome, and they are all made with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from local farmers.