Probiotics may lead to weight loss in obese women

A range of studies have shown that the microbiota of obese individuals is quite different to that of people with no weight problems. Now, a study led by researchers from the Université Laval in Canada and Nestlé, has taken things further by showing that, with the help of probiotics, the balance of the gut microbiota may be changed in order to increase the number of digestive bacteria that encourage healthy weight.

Professor Angelo Tremblay and his colleagues worked with 125 overweight men and women on a weight-loss diet. In addition to this diet, half the sample was given two daily pills containing probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family, while the others consumed a placebo. The results showed that over 12 weeks, the women in the group that had taken the probiotics had lost 4.4kg with the diet, while the group that only followed the weight-loss plan lost 2.6kg. Furthermore, in the following months, the women who had consumed the probiotics continued to lose some weight while those who had taken the placebo either stabilised or gained weight. In short, women consuming probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study. Researchers also noted a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin in this group, as well as a lower overall concentration of the intestinal bacteria related to obesity. Read more

The latest scientific studies about the microbiota on the Futurity portal

Futurity is a scientific news portal supported by a consortium of some of the United States’ most prestigious universities. The platform has recently implemented a special section dedicated specifically to the latest news on the microbiota.

The section includes the most recent discoveries about the bacteria living in our digestive system, our gut microbiota, how it relates to conditions like obesity and autism, or how it can be altered if we change our habits. We congratulate Futurity on this new initiative that allows us to follow the latest research news about the hundreds of trillions of bacteria living in our bodies.

Man’s best friend may also be the worst enemy of asthma and childhood allergies

The idea that being exposed to animals since early days might reinforce the immune system (part of the so-called “hygiene hypothesis”) has been referred by different studies, A new study recently published in PNAS reinforces this theory and suggests that this protecting effect is due to the changes undergone by the microbial community living in the digestive tract, the gut microbiota.

To get to this conclusion, Professor Susan Lynch and her colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco (USA) worked with mice exposed to dust from households with and without dogs. The results revealed that in rodents exposed to the dust from houses with dogs, the asthmatic reactions in their lungs lessened when they were challenged immunologically (albumin, cockroach antigen) later on. Read more

A video for understanding why we’re like an ecosystem

We are not alone. As this enlightening video published by Huffington Post journalist Jacqueline Howard shows, we are walking ecosystems, as our bodies are colonised from top to bottom by microbes that, not happy with behaving like guests, are actually integrated into our biology. “They help us digest food, shape our immune system, alter our metabolism and evidence is even starting to show that they affect the nervous system, influencing our mood and behaviour,” explains Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University (USA) in this video. Five essential minutes that will answer many of your questions about the microorganisms we carry around.