Can Prebiotics Support Weight Loss?
By Jen Morganti, ND
Obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled over the past 40 years. With nearly two thirds of the population dealing with the physical and emotional health effects of being obese or overweight, America needs to get serious about solving the obesity epidemic. The fact is, very few treatments are truly successful. Solutions such as dietary stimulants and bariatric surgery can be prohibitively expensive and come with significant risks.
These factors make it very difficult for healthcare providers to help their patients lose weight, especially children. There is a serious need to research and develop safer, more effective weight loss treatments to enhance the effects of standard weight loss recommendations, such as exercise, calorie reduction, and healthy food choices.
Prebiotics and Weight Loss
Prebiotics are plant-based fibers that nourish and help promote the growth of the good bacteria, called probiotics, which live in your gut. These bacteria are critical to good digestion and a healthy gastrointestinal system.
Although you can take a prebiotic supplement, you can also get prebiotics through your diet. Prebiotic foods are rich in inulin, which promotes healthy gut bacteria, reduces constipation, and helps break down fat. Inulin has even been shown to boost your immune system and improve metabolic health.
10 Inulin-Rich Prebiotic Foods:
• Chicory Root
• Dandelion Greens
Some of the prebiotic fiber content may be altered during cooking, so it is best to try and consume them raw rather than cooked.
Prebiotics and Weight Loss for Children
Recently, a study was conducted to determine if prebiotics could be beneficial for weight loss in children. In this study, children with a high BMI (considered obese), aged 7-12, were split into 2 groups. One group took 8 grams of prebiotics daily and the other took a placebo. The two groups were monitored daily while eating breakfast and they were permitted to eat as much as they wanted. Over the course of 16 weeks, the group taking the prebiotics felt significantly fuller after eating and therefore ate less.
Two hormones related to weight and appetite were measured to track the progress throughout the study. Ghrelin, which signals a sense of fullness and adiponectin, related to insulin sensitivity, both increased overall in the group taking the prebiotics. This indicates the positive effects of prebiotics on weight loss.
This research suggests that foods or supplements rich in prebiotic fibers can be very beneficial in helping children win their battle against obesity. Best of all, because prebiotics are naturally occurring in foods, we know they are very safe for children to take without any serious side effects.
Conclusions on Prebiotics
In general, increased prebiotic intake, whether through diet or supplementation, contributes to a balanced GI environment that ultimately leads to better overall health. Prebiotics are extremely safe and have the potential to help with weight loss, especially when combined with exercise and a healthy diet.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr; 105(4): 790-799. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.140947. Epub 2017 Feb 22.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.