Ever since probiotics and probiotic supplements and foods made an appearance (they have been around since the 1970s officially, tough many cultures have an ancient tradition of using probiotics and naturally fermented foods) there has been news regarding their positive properties. They have been hailed practically as miracle workers for a number of problems and the market for various probiotics has been targeted as $24 billion by 2017, testifying to their growing popularity. Recent research points to different ways that probiotics can be used.
Probiotics can help with obesity in women
A research study led by Professor Angelo Tremblay of the Université Laval in Quebec and Nestle and published on January 28, 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition says that probiotics may help women lose weight and keep it off. The study followed 125 obese men and women who were put on a weight loss diet for 12 weeks and then a maintenance diet for another 12 weeks. One group also had to take two probiotic pills daily, while the other group took a placebo.
While both groups lost weight, the group on probiotic pills lost an average of 10 pounds while the placebo group lost an average of six pounds during the weight loss period. During the maintenance period, the probiotic group lost an average of 11 pounds, while the other group remained stable and did not lose any further weight. However, there was no difference in weight loss among men who took probiotics and those who took a placebo, so probiotics may help women to lose weight in the long run. The group that took probiotics also had lower levels of leptin, the hormone that regulate appetite as well as intestinal bacteria that is a factor in obesity.
‘We don’t know why the probiotics didn’t have any effect on men. It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short,’ said Professor Tremblay. The study featured the use of Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Probiotics can help in the digestive health of infants and reduce healthcare costs
A study published in JAMA Pediatric on January 14, 2014, led by Dr. Flavia Indrio of the Aldo Moro University Baro, Italy, said probiotic use in the first six months of a baby’s life can help reduce health costs as the use mitigates the effects of colic, gastrointestinal disorders, acid reflux and constipation. The research team followed 554 infants who were less than a week old for three months. The infants were divided into two groups, one of which received the probiotic supplement and the other which received a placebo. Parents were told to keep a diary of their bowel movements, vomiting episodes, crying and doctor visits due to these problems.
At the end of the trial period the results were analyzed and it was found that probiotic usage had positive effects on crying, vomiting and colic pains and also resulted in fewer visits to the doctor. On an average the infants using probiotics saved $119 for each family.
While probiotic usage had no harmful or adverse effects, other doctors have warned that more studies are needed and that infants should be studied at a later stage to see that the early probiotic usage had no harmful effects as also study the long term health consequences of such early usage.
Probiotics made with human feces
Typically fermented foods, yoghurt and drinks have different probiotics that are supposed to be good for you. However, a study published in Meat Science in its February 2014 issue talks of using meat as a probiotic. The article titled Nutritionally enhanced fermented sausages as a vehicle for potential probiotic lactobacilli delivery used probiotic bacteria got from baby poop. The study was co-authored by Anna Jofr, a food microbiologist at Catalonia’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Research’s (IRTA) food-safety program in Girona, Spain.
The Spanish scientists used 43 fecal samples from infants up to six months of age and isolated different bacteria from these samples. These were then used to ferment six different batches of sausages. Three batches used commercial bacteria and three used bacteria from infant poop. One of the strains from infant poop multiplied and became dominant enough to have a probiotic effect on the person consuming the sausage.
What is the need for probiotic sausages you may wonder? The author says that for people who cannot take dairy products the sausages would be a way to introduce probiotics in their diet.