Probiotics and Weight: Does Acidophilus Cause Weight Gain?
Probiotics have become a very popular tool among hundreds of thousands of people, primarily because they offer a wide assortment of health benefits. Probiotics have been used to fortify gastrointestinal health, promote weight loss, and improve biological functions that might be struggling.
Most supermarkets carry a variety of probiotics that are readily available and marketed as holistic supplements. In fact, you might have already consumed a probiotic substance since the bacteria is found in certain foods. Dairy is one of the main sources of probiotics introduced via diet, but others are present in vegetables, fruits, etc. Probiotics have been lauded for years because they can improve our health and appearance when combined with proper lifestyle adjustments. Unfortunately, some probiotics might be less beneficial than their counterparts.
Probiotics are not a singular substance; several different kinds have different properties and biological profiles. As a result, they all interact with our bodies differently since their particular traits might differ from those we use in supplements. One of the main concerns people face is a probiotic that might promote weight gain instead of weight loss.
For some people, gaining weight is healthy since they might have underlying conditions or suffer from weight loss due to medical treatments. For people trying to lose weight, taking a probiotic that makes it easier to gain is a big problem. The probiotic in question is called "acidophilus," but you might not recognize that name or whether it actually causes weight gain.
What is Acidophilus?
Despite the name "acidophilus," it is not a form of acid but is actually part of the name for a specific probiotic organism. If you are new to the world of probiotics, you might not know that probiotics are bacteria with specific properties.
While the term "bacteria" might give you pause, considering we are supposed to consume probiotics willingly, you have little to fear. Despite the common conception that bacteria are a source of infection and health issues, not all bacteria are harmful, and certain species provide essential bodily functions.
In fact, the gastrointestinal tract is home to several bacteria that are essential to maintaining a healthy biome and preventing gastrointestinal distress. Without these bacteria, our stomachs would be unable to function. Probiotics are a special group of bacteria that complement our body's natural functions and can enhance our health.
The term "acidophilus" is half of a probiotic species name and refers to Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic organism first discovered in 1900. L. acidophilus is also one of the few probiotic organisms that naturally manifest in the human body. Specifically, L. acidophilus is commonly found in our oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and the female vagina.
Outside of what naturally grows in our bodies, L. acidophilus is commonly found in fermented milk and yogurt (or any variety of fermented dairy products, though alternatives exist for vegans). L. acidophilus was first discovered when a man named Ernst Moro isolated the organism from a sample of infant feces (not to say that is where the organism comes from).
Following Moro's discovery, further research was conducted, and the organism, originally identified as Bacillus acidophilus, underwent several name changes. Eventually, the disparate research was unified, and the organism was reclassified as a member of the Lactobacillus genus in 1929.
It is worth noting that not all strains of L. acidophilus have probiotic traits, and the strain that does must usually be harvested instead. As a result, people who want to enhance their health either need to consume high quantities of fermented dairy or use a supplement containing the specific strain of L. acidophilus with probiotic features.
What Are the Benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus?
While L. acidophilus has natural benefits for the body, primarily the strains that naturally occur in our bodies, the probiotic strain might be more beneficial. Like most probiotic substances, L. acidophilus focuses primarily on gastrointestinal health.
Disorder in the gastrointestinal tract could lead to serious health issues and gastrointestinal distress with unpleasant symptoms. Part of why people are so fond of probiotics is because they can restore balance in the gut and prevent gastrointestinal distress by giving your natural bacteria time to recover. This usually only works when the colony has lost multiple organisms due to high strain.
Using probiotics when completely healthy could lead to minor gastrointestinal disturbances like excessive flatulence or bloating. Nevertheless, most probiotic substances are extremely beneficial to gastrointestinal health.
L. acidophilus has been observed inhibiting the development of several harmful organisms linked to serious diseases. For example, L. acidophilus has been documented as an antagonistic organism that combats Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli) and reduces its odds of colonizing.
The same effect was observed with Salmonella typhimurium and, most interestingly, Staphylococcus aureus. While the former affects the gastrointestinal tract, S. aureus is a harmful infection that targets the upper respiratory system. L. acidophilus repelling S. aureus shows how far the former reaches and its benefits against certain diseases and infections. While L. acidophilus has a role in combatting major health issues, several other benefits have been heavily researched.
One of the main gastrointestinal benefits of L. acidophilus is that it reduces and prevents the onset of diarrhea. This particular benefit comes with a caveat that limits its viability in a supplement. Specifically, L. acidophilus reduces diarrhea by fighting the conditions that cause it. Therefore, a healthy person taking L. acidophilus will likely not enjoy the anti-diarrhea benefits of the bacteria if nothing is causing diarrhea aside from a poor diet.
A meta-analysis of over 300 children assessed the effects of L. acidophilus as a potential supplement to fight diarrhea. The results showed that the children who received L. acidophilus supplements had reduced diarrhea, but only those who were sick or hospitalized. A review of 12 studies also determined that L. acidophilus, when combined with another probiotic, could prevent traveler's diabetes. In fact, the L. acidophilus combination proved to be the most effective.
Additionally, L. acidophilus shares a trait with other members of the Lactobacillus genus and produces lactic acid. Lactic acid is an extremely important nutrient consumed by dairy products. Lactic acid has several benefits that promote our health, but it also directly protects the gastrointestinal tract from harmful bacteria. L. acidophilus also promotes colonization by other Lactobacillus organisms and bacteria from the Bifidobacterium genus. Furthermore, L. acidophilus increases the levels of short-chain fatty acids that further enhance gastrointestinal health.
L. acidophilus' benefits are not limited to the gastrointestinal tract and can extend to vaginal health. Specifically, there is evidence suggesting that L. acidophilus can prevent vaginal infections. We are not saying that L. acidophilus can prevent sexually transmitted infections, but the vagina is a particularly sensitive part of the female anatomy. Several substances at work in the vaginal cavity make infection a major risk, especially yeast infections.
You might not know that there are bacteria in the vagina that are supposed to be there. Namely, the vagina is home to Lactobacilli bacteria that help produce lactic acid. When an infection takes root in the vaginal cavity, harmful bacteria outnumber the Lactobacilli organisms. Fortunately, L. acidophilus has been proven to increase the Lactobacilli population in the vagina, reducing and possibly eliminating the infection.
There is also evidence suggesting that L. acidophilus can protect us from one of the most dangerous health issues in America. There is an epidemic concerning the cholesterol of American citizens, with a large portion of the population dealing with elevated levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
Reducing LDL levels is challenging since we live in a society that runs on fast food and processed snacks. Nevertheless, some studies indicate that L. acidophilus can reduce LDL levels more effectively than any other probiotic organism. One study divided subjects into 2 groups, with the test group receiving an L. acidophilus supplement for 6 weeks. When the study was finished, the subjects in the test group demonstrated a significant decrease in their LDL levels.
Even more impressive is that the supplement also increased their high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Considering heart disease is America's leading cause of death, any substance that can reduce cholesterol levels is a welcome addition to modern supplements.
L. acidophilus has several major benefits for human health, but none addresses weight concerns. So, we must now address the question that brought you to this article: does L. acidophilus cause weight gain?
Does Lactobacillus acidophilus Cause Weight Gain?
Countless probiotics are marketed as weight-loss tools due to their beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Understandably, some people are skeptical of this alleged effect because losing weight can be extremely challenging. The good news is that probiotics can influence your weight by optimizing your body to break down what you eat. Probiotics enhance the digestive system, unlike stimulants like caffeine, which jumpstart our metabolism.
This effect means probiotics make it easier for our bodies to digest food and eliminate waste, thereby reducing weight. The good news is that the probiotics genus tied to weight loss is Lactobacillus, which is important because Lactobacilli are among the most common probiotic organisms. Unfortunately, not all organisms are created equal insofar as weight loss benefits are concerned.
The benefits of probiotics for weight loss seem to grow when multiple strains with weight-loss effects are consumed simultaneously. This helps enhance the effect and ensures that losing weight is slightly easier than it would be otherwise. A study combined the results of 17 separate studies on humans and an additional 60 conducted on animals.
All the studies proved that certain Lactobacilli strains improved weight loss. The problem is that some strains contribute to weight gain instead, making them counterintuitive for people trying to shed a few pounds. There is no definitive proof that L. acidophilus is one of the organisms that cause weight gain. However, the prevailing hypothesis is that L. acidophilus was one of the organisms in this review that contributed to weight gain.
The simple answer is that we do not have enough evidence to suggest L. acidophilus affects weight one way or the other. More intensive studies are needed to confirm either theory, but L. acidophilus is almost never taken alone. Rather, it is combined with other probiotic organisms contributing to weight loss.
In a worst-case scenario, L. acidophilus' alleged contributions to weight gain would be overwritten by the effects of the other organisms that enhance the digestive system and improve weight loss. Furthermore, the benefits outlined above make L. acidophilus too valuable to disregard because of an unproven theory. Nevertheless, the pros and cons of L. acidophilus are irrelevant if you cannot find a reliable vendor to sell trustworthy probiotic supplements.
Finding the Right Blend
Probiotics are growing in popularity due to their range of health benefits and the fact that many improve weight loss regimens. The various probiotic organisms can be difficult to track, especially since many of them thrive in completely different environments from others. The Lactobacillus genus, while primarily dairy-based, can be easily consumed due to the rise of probiotic supplements.
As a result, even vegans can enjoy probiotics without compromising their lifestyle. Insofar as L. acidophilus is concerned, there is nothing to suggest that it causes weight gain. Unfortunately, no evidence suggests it does not cause weight gain either because it has not been fully studied. That said, L. acidophilus is a common addition to supplements that contain multiple probiotic species.
Weight gain from those supplements is extremely rare, so it is fair to assume that L. acidophilus is not responsible. Therefore, you can enjoy probiotics containing L. acidophilus with confidence.
We at Teami fully endorse probiotics and their benefits, especially since a natural compound that offers health and cosmetic benefits is rare. Our specialty is creating and selling supplements and products using these natural compounds, and we have not neglected probiotics.
We offer several gut health products, including our Gut Love Probiotic + Prebiotic Powder, which contains multiple species of probiotic organisms. L. acidophilus is one of the organisms in our supplement, but our product is specifically designed to reduce bloating and is one of our top products. We encourage you to visit our website and try our product firsthand. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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