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Prebiotics May Be a Weight Loss Tool

Daily supplements of a prebiotic called oligofructose may suppress hormones linked to hunger and lead to weight loss, according to a new study from Canada published in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Prebiotics help your body produce beneficial bacteria called probiotics. Maintaining a healthy level of these "good bacteria" is essential for digestive health and immune system function.

Researchers from the University of Calgary recruited 48 overweight but otherwise healthy individuals for the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive daily supplements of the prebiotic oligofructose (21 grams) or a placebo for 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, the participants in the prebiotic group lost an average of 1.03 kg whereas people in the placebo group gained an average of .45 kg.

Among the prebiotic group, the researchers observed lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and higher levels of a hormone in the gut called peptide YY, which is associated with increased feelings of fullness.

The researchers also observed no negative side effects, showing that the prebiotics were well tolerated.

These findings support a number of previous studies observing a link between weight loss and prebiotic consumption.  However, this was the first study to show that prebiotics may aid in weight loss regardless of any other changes in lifestyle or environmental factors.

There are a number of foods which can help to increase prebiotic and probiotic levels in the gut.  A high quality supplement is also an effective way to boost the levels.

The best supplements contain several different bacteria strains (different strains have different benefits) and several billion bacteria cells.  It is also important to ensure they are packaged to block light, air, and moisture, which will easily kill prebiotics.

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