Why You Should Be Taking Probiotics If You Want A Flat Belly

Kirsten Curtis |

Ice cream, beer, that extra slice of pizza… they all conspire to grow your gut. Now meet their nemeses: the helpful bacteria known as probiotics.

What They Do
Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria, and your digestive system is rife with them. You know this because yoghurt companies won’t shut up about probiotics, and doctors often prescribe them for gurgling bowels. What you may not know is that these buggers can help you lose weight. According to a recent study review from China, people who consumed probiotics for at least eight weeks lost almost 900g more, on average, than those who didn’t.

How They Work
The throngs of bacteria in your gastrointestinal system mainly fall into two squads: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Research suggests that overweight people tend to have more of the former, while in slim people the latter variety holds sway. The theory is that probiotics rebalance your gut ecology, which means you have less inflammation and less fat accumulation while still feeling full. Result: less overeating and a faster metabolism.

What to Eat
Try to eat one serving of a cultured or fermented food every day, suggests Gerry Mullin, author of The Gut Balance Revolution. Plain kefir, miso soup, sauerkraut and kombucha (a kind of tea) all fit the bill. Yoghurt is great too; research indicates that people who eat it on a regular basis control their weight better. The good bacteria in yogurt deserve part of the credit, but its filling protein may also play a role, says Simin Nikbin Meydani, a professor of nutrition and immunology at Tufts University. Look for plain Greek yoghurt, not that sugary, fruit-on-the-bottom stuff. If you need a hit of sweetness, add some thawed frozen berries, a scattering of dark chocolate chips or dried fruit pieces.

Three More Ways Probiotics Can Help You

1. They Cut Blood Sugar
People with diabetes who regularly took probiotics saw an average 16-point reduction in their fasting blood sugar, a Chinese study review found. That’s a lot. The theory is that probiotics may inhibit glucose absorption in your intestine, so less glucose ends up in circulation. That’s especially important for maintaining regular, stable blood glucose levels and avoiding dangerous spikes and plunges.

2. They Calm You Down
Stressed-out med students who sipped a Lactobacillus casei Shirota beverage daily had lower spikes in the stress hormone cortisol than those who swilled a placebo, a study from Japan found. Beneficial bacteria might quell gut-brain signals that activate cortisol- secreting glands. Find the strain in milk kefir, Amasi or probiotic beverages, such as Probio. (Search for stocks at Wellness Warehouse.)

3. They Unclog Arteries
In a Brazilian study, people with metabolic syndrome who consumed a probiotic bac­teria called Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 daily reduced their bad cholesterol by an average of 17.5 points. Blood cholesterol might bind to the cells of good bacteria, leaving less to gunk up your blood vessels. Find this strain in the supplement ProbiFlora Adult Intensive Rescue 9 (R184, Clicks).

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