‘Probiotics may help ward off obesity in women’

May 7th, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Amsterdam, May 7 (IANS) One year after giving birth, women are less likely to have the most dangerous kind of obesity if they had been given probiotics from the first trimester of pregnancy, a new study has said.
The study suggests that manipulating the balance of bacteria in the gut may help fight obesity.

Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the digestive tract by reducing the growth of harmful bacteria. They are part of the normal digestive system and play a role in controlling inflammation.

Researchers have for many years been studying the potential of using probiotic supplementation to address a number of intestinal diseases. Recently, obesity researchers have started to investigate whether the balance of bacteria in the gut might play a role in making people fat and whether adjusting that balance could help.

“The results of our study, the first to demonstrate the impact of probiotics-supplemented dietary counselling were encouraging,” Eurekaalert quoted Kirsi Laitinen, a nutritionist and senior lecturer at the University of Turku in Finland who presented her findings Thursday at the European Congress on Obesity, as saying.

“The women who got the probiotics fared best. One year after childbirth, they had the lowest levels of central obesity as well as the lowest body fat percentage.”

“Central obesity, where overall obesity is combined with a particularly fat belly, is considered especially unhealthy,” Laitinen said.

“We found it in 25 percent of the women who had received the probiotics along with dietary counselling, compared with 43 percent in the women who received diet advice alone.”

In the study, 256 women were randomly divided into three groups during the first trimester of pregnancy. One of those groups also received daily capsules of probiotics containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are the most commonly used probiotics. The other group received dummy capsules. A third group received dummy capsules and no dietary counselling. The capsules were continued until the women stopped exclusive breastfeeding, up to six months.

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