A recent scientific study has shown that consuming 'friendly bacteria' probiotics may help to prevent obesity.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms which are ingested and are associated with beneficial effects on both humans and animals. The concept of a probiotic goes back to 1907 where Nobel Prize winner Eli Metchnikoff said "the dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes".
The World Health Organization's definition of probiotics is "live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health beneﬁt on the host".
Study has shown that it may be possible to beneficially manipulate gut bacteria
Bacteria is predominantly associated with germs and poor hygiene but this is bad bacteria which actually only makes up a small proportion of the different types of bacteria - they're not all bad! Our guts all contain bacteria (often referred to as flora as they make up most of the mass of flora) which are essential to a large number of processes - we could not live without some of them. They are so vital and are responsible for so many activities they are often referred to as a "forgotten" organ.
Scientific study monitored the effect of probiotics on a high fat diet
The study was conducted on mice given a high fat diet, those who were given probiotics did not put on weight and had insulin resistance three months after the treatment had finished. Scientists now believe it is possible to manipulate the bacteria in the gut by way of probiotics in order to treat obesity and chronic diseases.
Previous studies have also strengthened these results as they have demonstrated that the bacteria in the gut play a role in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study involved genetically modifying a safe strain of E. Coli to produce a lipid (a group of molecules which include fats, waxes, sterols, and fat-soluble vitamins) called NAPE. NAPE is a nitrogen-containing lipid which is manufactured in the small intestine as a response to feeding. NAPE is then converted to a compound which is known to reduce weight gain and food intake.
Dramatic results resulted from the group taking probiotics
There is scientific evidence which suggests that people with high fat diets have a reduced production of NAPE, this formed the basis of the study.
Over an eight week period the group which consumed the probiotics had a hugely lower food intake, body fat and insulin resistance compared to those who did not contain the modified NAPE bacteria.
Even 3 months after the study the mice with the modified bacteria still had a considerably lower body weight and fat ratio.
The scientific study proves that the concept works and is now a platform to build on these findings.