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Eating more seems to contradict everything we’ve been told about weight loss. The key, however, is eating more of the right things. Take probiotics for example. Found in a variety of foods, the beneficial bacteria inside referred to as “probiotics” are believed to enhance digestion, even helping you shed unwanted weight. In the heart of swimsuit season, we’re all looking for ways to look and feel our absolute best, so we decided to investigate these belly-blasting helpers. Here’s a look at what we learned.

Beneficial Bacteria to Help Manage Weight Loss?

As dietitians continue to evaluate the American diet recall, they discovered that probiotic-laden food sources were a widely overlooked piece of the American diet. As such, they have also observed a continual uptick in obesity and other weight-related health concerns. So, where does this probiotics gap leave us? Well, for starters, obese individuals were found to have more obese gut bacteria. Don’t lose hope just yet: new research suggests you could yet lose unwanted pounds.

A Missoulian article discussed how in an experimental study where the gut bacteria of obese and lean human subjects was transferred to sterile mice, mice of each test group proceeded to develop similar body compositions as their human-donor counterparts. Interestingly, the mice that gained weight after receiving transferred gut bacteria from obese humans were able to lose weight after receiving a subsequent transfer from the leaner human donors.

What This Means for Humans

This is great news…for mice. The fact is that it’s still unknown how this would play out in human subjects. More importantly, this study stresses the need for developing and maintaining healthy gut bacteria. And in several studies, researchers found that “maintaining a healthy ratio of beneficial gut bacteria may enhance the metabolism of fat, control blood sugar, and regulate our hunger/satiety (fullness) hormones.”

This is where probiotics come into play. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Because of their feel-good effects, probiotics have earned a reputation as good bacteria, often promoting enhanced digestive health. The way it works is amazingly simple. When consumed, probiotics work to restore your ecological makeup, balancing gut bacteria by outnumbering the bad, pathogenic microorganisms with the good ones.

As observed in this study, subjects with a gut composition of “leaner,” good bacteria weighed less. Because of this, the health conscious have turned to probiotics in their daily health routines. The good news is that probiotic supplements and food — think unpasteurized yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir — are more accessible than ever.

Although there isn’t any concrete research drawing a direct correlation between probiotics consumption and weight loss in humans, we’re sure of one thing. Probiotics are paving the road to healthier gut bacteria, which is transforming the way we approach health.