Consuming probiotic supplements during pregnancy may actually help women reduce belly fat after pregnancy. This is what researchers at the University of Turku in Finland found out when they enrolled 256 pregnant women in a study. The findings of this study was presented at the 17th European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam.
Women who took probiotics during pregnancy had a lower incidence of central obesity, one year after pregnancy. Central obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 and a waist circumference of more than 31.5 inches. The group of women that took probiotics had a 25% incidence of central obesity when measured 1 year after pregnancy as compared to 43% in women who did not. These women also had the lowest body fat percentage.
What Are Probiotics
Probiotics come from pro and biota, meaning “for life”. Probiotics are dietary supplements of live microorganisms that offer a host of health benefits. Up to 100 trillion microorganisms consisting of more than 500 different species can inhabit a normal and healthy gut. These microorganisms keep harmful microorganisms in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, contribute to immune function and even alleviate intestinal inflammatory diseases.
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. The probiotic supplements taken by the pregnant women consisted of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
The Probiotics and Obesity Link
The link between obesity and gut bacteria has been gaining popularity in recent times with more research showing a correlation. Not everyone consuming the same food will absorb the same amount of calories. Gut bacteria have been identified as a possible reason for this.
2 recent studies focusing on mice and humans were published in the magazine Nature. These studies identified a correlation between gut bacteria and being overweight. Apparently a family of bacteria called firmicutes was found to be more in obese people. Obese people carry 20% more of this particular family of bacteria. The study also listed another family of bacteria called bacteroidetes that were almost 90% less in obese people.
According to the study, obese mice were more efficient than lean mice at harvesting calories from complex sugars and depositing those calories in fat. The researchers attributed this to the gut bacteria. When obese people lost weight, virtually all the bacteroidetes increased, while the firmicute bacteria shrank.
As such, they may be a lot or merit in trying to build up on the useful gut bacteria by consuming food rich in these friendly bacteria such as yogurt. Alternatively, one could also consume a probiotic supplement.