If you’ve consistently failed in your attempts to lose weight, it could be you’re missing a key ingredient.
That ingredient is a healthy gut flora.
Intestinal flora has long been believed to play a key role in ensuring proper immune function. And with good cause - 80% of our immune defences are assured by our intestinal flora .
But research has moved on and scientists have recently discovered that gut flora also plays a part in weight control.
Let me introduce you to Lactobacillus gasseri
, a little-known probiotic bacteria which actually has some very interesting properties. Researchers have found that ‘feeding’ your gut flora with Lactobacillus gasseri
(or L. gasseri
) helps shift excess weight.
The L. gasseri
bacteria is often eclipsed by its close relation Lactobacillus casei
(or L. casei
), commonly found in supermarket chiller cabinets in products such as Yakult and Actimel.
Most probiotic bacteria such as L. casei
are used for their immunity-boosting role.
But things are changing.
Researchers at the cutting edge are now reporting that gut flora composition is responsible for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Gut flora and excess weight
We are starting to see a revolution in how obesity and type 2 diabetes are treated. Scientists believe that introducing ‘friendly’ bacteria into the gut may be a key element in tackling obesity.
The digestive system is host to almost 500 species of micro-organism which all play a part in digestion and immunity. The population of each of these species is in the billions! So in effect, harmful bacteria and yeasts are denied the opportunity to grow in your gut because it is colonised instead by a veritable army of thousands of billions of micro-organisms, continually protecting and cleansing your intestines.
And it is this huge army that we call “gut flora”.
Maintaining healthy intestinal flora requires nourishment with good food and regular re-colonisation. Otherwise, it will become a refuge for harmful species, triggering constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, inflammation of various kinds, skin changes, sugar cravings, excess weight and fluctuations in mood. Unhealthy flora can also lead to more serious complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloody diarrhoea, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
A ratio of 85% good bacteria to 15% bad bacteria is thought to constitute an optimal intestinal flora.
Too much spaghetti, pizza and sugar
The fundamental problem with many modern diets is that they upset our gut flora by reducing its diversity and encouraging the growth of harmful species of bacteria. Antibiotics exacerbate these effects because they destroy the good bacteria present from birth, allowing unwelcome species to proliferate.
Many people today find gluten - in bread, pasta and pizza - difficult to digest, and as a result, suffer from chronic inflammation of the intestine. This inflammation is an indication of a weakened gut flora.
Gluten acts like sandpaper, constantly scraping the gut wall and destroying the wall’s protective mucosa. This mucosa is made up of billions of bacteria; without them, the intestinal ‘housework’ necessary to keep the gut clean and healthy cannot be done.
The intestinal wall becomes porous and allows all kinds of harmful substances to penetrate into the bloodstream. These substances cause considerable damage, such as an acceleration in the laying down of fat stores.
Sugary food, or food which is rapidly converted into simple sugars, also damages your gut flora. This includes the glucose in potatoes, the fructose in fruit juice and the lactose in dairy products. All of these encourage the proliferation of fungal flora which compromises immunity and increases the risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems and cancer.
An imbalance in gut flora can lead to excess weight or make losing weight more difficult. Numerous studies have shown that the flora composition of obese individuals is different to that of slim people .
L. gasserihelps shift excess weight
Japanese scientists conducted a multi-centre clinical trial to examine the effect of the probioticLactobacillus gasseri
on obesity. The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 87 subjects with significant abdominal fat . After 12 weeks, the researchers noted average reductions of 4.6% in abdominal fat and 3.3% in sub-cutaneous fat in those treated with L. gasseri
. Their weight had dropped by 1.4% and their waist measurement by 1.8%.
The introduction of L. gasseri
helps thicken the intestine’s mucosal barrier, preventing harmful substances from entering the bloodstream .
also enables chemical signals from the digestive system to be modified, changing how fat is processed in the body.
This study confirms the results of an earlier trial that had demonstrated the efficacy of L. gasseri
at reducing fat levels in animals .
It must be said that L. gasseri
is not a ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to losing weight. The results are there but they are far from spectacular. Don’t expect the inches to disappear overnight just from taking this probiotic. But L. gasseri
might just be the trigger you need to help you lose those excess kilos.
There’s no doubt that a poorly-maintained intestinal flora will do you no favours. It’s like trying to cycle uphill stuck in a high gear. Better to get off and push the bike up on foot. But if you’ve taken good care of your bike and can cycle up in a low gear, you’ll climb faster than if you walk it up.
In the same way, the attention you give to maintaining your gut flora can either work for you or against you.
gut flora can aid your digestion, ensure your body gets the vitamins and nutrients it needs, improve your metabolism so that you store less fat and protect you from viruses, fungi, ‘unfriendly’ bacteria and the threat of disease.
An unhealthy gut flora not only leaves you open to external attack, it also complicates the digestive process, bringing an increased risk of constipation and diarrhoea, amongst others. Above all, it allows unhealthy bacteria and opportunistic, pathogenic yeasts and fungi (Candida albicans
) to proliferate in your gut, providing them with warmth, nourishment and protection.
It is therefore vital that you look after your gut flora.
By ensuring your digestive tract is properly colonised by i>L. gasseri, you are actively rebalancing your gut flora and improving your metabolism. i>L. gasseri thickens your intestinal mucosa and alters the chemical signals involved in the processing of fats throughout your body. This helps you lose weight.
The breast milk probiotic
is already recognised as an immunity-boosting probiotic. In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, conducted on 44 children with allergy , researchers noted a faster immune reaction to allergies and improvements in health among those given the probiotic.
is not only one of the types of bacteria which are essential for healthy gut flora but it is also important for good health in a more general sense. It is naturally present in breast milk so if you were fortunate enough to have been breast-fed, L. gasseri
will have populated your gut from a very young age. And it is known that breast-fed babies are less likely to be overweight.
Those of you who did not have this advantage are strongly recommended to follow a course of treatment with L. gasseri
in order to sustainably ‘implant’ this valuable probiotic into your gut - you cannot fail to benefit from its many positive effects.
Nature dictates that you inherit your gut flora from your mother. Before you were born, your digestive tract was sterile, but from the moment of delivery, your gut was populated by the vaginal flora of your mother. If you were breast-fed, your mother’s milk would then have provided you with essential probiotic bacteria such as L. gasseri
Nowadays, such colonisation at birth from the mother is less assured, due to increases both in delivery by caesarean section and bottle-feeding with pasteurised milk. Caesareans by-pass the process of colonisation by vaginal flora, and a non-breast-fed baby cannot benefit from the good maternal bacteria that should be populating its gut.
Instead, it is the nasty bacteria circulating in hospitals or in our polluted city air that takes over this colonisation role, making it easier to understand why there has been an increase in numbers of children susceptible to allergies and asthma.
Taking L. gasseri
is therefore a way of recreating the kind of healthy and robust gut flora ideally passed from mother to baby at birth.
The problem with taking probiotics orally
It’s reasonable to expect that when you swallow a probiotic, it will pass through your digestive tract and proliferate in your intestine.
However, this process is far from straightforward.
Probiotic bacteria come under attack from enzymes in your saliva and stomach. Most bacteria are destroyed and those that survive have no chance of being successfully implanted in your intestine once they reach the stomach.
It is therefore crucial to choose probiotic bacteria that can withstand the obstacles of the digestive system; otherwise they stand no chance of actually boosting your gut flora.
Scientists at the Swiss agricultural research centre Agroscope in Berne simulated these acid attacks by placing a strain of L. gasseri
in a 0.3% bile salt solution for three hours, at the end of which the L. gasseri
bacteria were found to have survived. The researchers also tested the L. gasseri
in a pH3 acid milieu for three hours and found the bacteria had decreased by half - a reasonable outcome .
The same research team also conducted a study on piglets given L. gasseri
for two weeks. Since these bacteria come from another species - human breast milk - they were foreign to the piglets.
Analysis of the piglets’ stools following ingestion showed residues of the L. gasseri
strain - a whole week after treatment had ended. This provides further proof of the ability of these bacteria to survive the digestive process .
You can therefore be confident that taking the probioticL. gasseri
will successfully boost your gut flora.
 How The Bacteria In Your Gut Is Linked To The Size Of Your Waistline, Mercola
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