Recent studies have thrown up an interesting connection between our rate of metabolism and the probiotics and prebiotics found in the gut. Research concentrated on 30 obese women who were given either ITF prebiotics in the form of inulin-type fructans, or a placebo. Those given ITF prebiotics showed a change in their intestinal flora which led to an increase in their metabolic rate. This showed that prebiotics could have a positive effect for those who are obese or suffering from diabetes.

The in-depth study showed that those treated with prebiotics had an increased level of bifidobacterium and faecalibacterium prausnitzii which are known to counter serum lipopolysaccharide levels. The prebiotic treatment also lowered bacteroides intestinalis, bacteroides vulgatus and propionibacterium which are associated with a decrease in fat mass, plasma lactate and phosphatidylcholine. The test concluded that prebiotics may be effective in causing changes to the gut flora which may in turn have an impact on key metabolites (molecules that are the intermediates of metabolism) which are associated with obesity and diabetes.


What is the difference between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Most of us have heard of probiotics – those "friendly" bacteria that live in the gut and help digest food. Also known as microflora, probiotics flourish in a healthy digestive system. They can also be boosted by probiotic supplements or by eating foods such as live yoghurt, miso, natto, kefir and other fermented dairy products.

Prebiotics are what feed probiotics in the intestine, creating a positive environment for them to flourish, hindering candida and bad bacteria colonies which also inhabit the gut. Foods rich in prebiotics are Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils and beans. Prebiotics are also found in supplements such as guar gum, slippery elm, pectin and psyllium.

By maintaining a high level of both prebiotics and probiotics you are likely to support a trouble-free digestive system and a healthier body.

How Probiotics Change Metabolism in the Host:

Every person has a different balance of probiotics within their gut, depending upon their lifestyle and diet. Studies by researchers at Imperial College London and the Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne found that feeding probiotics to mice increased the "friendly" bacteria which then worked with other good bacteria to further amplify the beneficial effect.

The scientists discovered that mice treated with additional probiotics metabolized bile acids differently than mice that were not. Bile acids are important in breaking down and emulsifying fats as part of the digestive process. If scientists could change how bile acids metabolized, they could control how much fat was absorbed in the body.

It was shown that increasing probiotics into the body has a tangible effect upon the whole digestive flora in the intestine. Understanding how prebiotics, probiotics and flora in the gut interact may lay the foundation stones for new health treatments in metabolizing fats naturally. Developing new probiotic treatments will not only maintain optimum digestive health but may also hold the key to ultimately controlling obesity and diabetes.