Academy Lecture

Probiotics; a novel solution to weight management

A dynamic relationship exists between obesity, structural, and functional changes in gut microbiota. The population and diversities that exist with specific bacterial families influence changes in terms of energy utilization and metabolic pathways, which have been found essential to obesity. Targeting those factors may help manage obesity effectively. Probiotics play a crucial role in the composition of gut microbiota. Probiotics improve our gut functional integrity while restoring the microbial shift features in line with obesity reduction.

As we understand in the past few decades, the trend in obesity is on the high side globally. This has created major public health concerns that need a new urgent approach to weight management. Probiotics mechanisms of actions have been well studied and understand to play essential roles in modifying fats accumulation in the body. Tapping into such dynamic processes which is less invasive could be beneficial in the weight management process. Bariatric surgery is an important surgical procedure done to reduce excess weight; however, highly invasive with the risk of different unforeseen complications that could arise. Developing a new approach to weight management is needed to have a better lifestyle.


Probiotics; influence on obesity

Several possible mechanisms have already been proposed as regards the role of gut microbiota in contributing or influencing obesity: dietary carbohydrate fermentation or starch hydrolysis, lipogenesis, excess energy storage, fat absorption are some of those processes. Bile salts hydrolyzation and reduction in emulsification will also be described to highlight the huge potential roles of probiotics that need to be explored fully.

There are three main species of microbiota found in the gut. They are the bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and actinobacteria. The members, such as Bifidobacterium (actinobacteria) and Bacteroids (Bacteroidetes), constitute the dominant population. The gut microbiota provides structural, protective and metabolic functions in the gut. This is a form of the commensal role that displace harmful bacteria or pathogens while competing for the resources available (nutrients). They also produce factors that have antibacterial features. While performing its function, those microorganisms play a role that helps strengthen the immune system and reinforce the mucosal barrier of the gut. The third important role relates to the metabolic functions that help to benefit the host in terms of the synthesis and absorption process. These changes within the gut from the microorganisms help in providing a deeper knowledge of the mechanism of actions of probiotics and how they can be utilized to achieve a goal of effectively managing weight. The physical, biochemical and metabolic parameters are fully considered to ensure the best utilization.

Lactobacilli have been found to modulate the expression of numerous genes encoding the adherence junction proteins such as the E-cadherin, B-catenin at the cell barrier models. The process relates to the improvement of gut barrier function, which helps exclude pathogens. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria also contribute to steric hindrance at enterocyte pathogen receptors, which help limit the pathogenic bacteria attachment. This group of microorganism (Lactobacilli) enhance adhesion to the intestinal mucosa while also produce health-promoting conjugated linoleic acid which has been found to have some anti-carcinogenic properties while also modulating the fatty acid composition of liver and the adipose tissue of the host.

Lactobacillus species as probiotics have been found to possess bile salts hydrolase (BSH) enzymes genes. The bile salts hydrolyzation has been considered in terms of either conjugation and deconjugation of bile salts. There are desirable and undesirable effects on both. Probiotics strains offer a beneficial pathway of providing Bile salts hydrolase activity, which significantly influences lipid metabolism and absorption of dietary lipids, weight gain, and cholesterol levels. Probiotics containing the Lactobacillus Plantarum strains have the potential to antagonize other microorganisms in a competitive way that relates to mucosal adherence, epithelium related antimicrobial activity, enhance mucus production and barrier integrity which all helps to reduce obesity. This is all about modulating energy homeostasis and fat deposition.



There are huge potentials in probiotics as supplements relative to weight management. The properties need to be fully tapped to reduce risks associated with more invasive procedures of bariatric surgeries. Probiotics offer many additional benefits that are yet untapped. Carefully selected probiotics including Lactobacillus Plantarum, helps reduces intestinal lipid absorption, promote intestinal tract health and reduce body fat storage.

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