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A Healthy Aid to Slimming Down Following Pregnancy

Taking probiotic supplements during the first trimester of pregnancy may help women lose weight following birth, according to a study presented at the 2009 European Congress on Obesity in early May.

The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition in November of 2008.

Probiotic supplements contain “friendly” bacteria that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in your gut. Maintaining a healthy level of good bacteria plays a crucial role in digestive health, immune system function, and has even been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers.

Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland recruited 256 women in the first trimester of pregnancy for the study.

The women were randomly divided into three groups. The first group received dietary counseling and daily probiotic supplements. The second group received the same dietary counseling and was given a placebo containing no probiotics. The third group was given the placebo capsules and no dietary counseling.

The specific probiotic strains used in the study were Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium lactis.  The women continued taking the supplements until they stopped exclusive breastfeeding (up to six months after birth.)

At the end of the study, researchers measured central obesity levels.  Central obesity is overall obesity combined with a particularly fat belly.  There is a strong correlation between central obesity and cardiovascular disease.

For the study, central obesity was defined as a body mass index of 30 or more or a waist circumference of 80 centimeters or more.

Central obesity was present in 18% fewer women in the probiotic plus dietary counseling group compared to the women in the dietary counseling only group. Compared to the control group (no counseling or placebo capsules), central obesity was present in 15% fewer women in the probiotic plus dietary counseling group.

Study author Kirsi Laitinen noted that future research will follow women and their babies for longer periods of time to see if probiotic supplementation results in positive health benefits for the children.

If you want to boost probiotic levels in your body, try consuming more foods like yogurt and cultured milk products.  If this proves difficult, you may want to incorporate a quality probiotic supplement into your diet.  Make sure the supplement contains several probiotic strains and is packaged to block light, air, and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics.

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