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Prebiotics Shown to Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors

Over time, the gut microbiota in overweight individuals is altered to a less beneficial composition, which can result in inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to the onset of metabolic syndrome. Researchers have found that improving the gut microbiota composition using prebiotics may help combat metabolic syndrome and boost immune function in overweight individuals.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of risk factors that include obesity, hypertension, high levels of blood lipids and high blood sugar.

Participants in the study included 45 overweight individuals with at least 3 risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Over the course of 12 weeks, half of the group took a 5.5 gram maltodextrin placebo while the other half took a 5.5 gram prebiotic supplement. This was followed by a four week washout period, after which the participants switched interventions.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted higher levels of beneficial bacteria and lower levels of less desirable bacteria in the participant’s fecal matter when they were taking the prebiotic supplement. They also noted lower levels of inflammation marker C-reactive protein, triglycerides, total cholesterol , and insulin as well as an improved ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

The immune response in participants was also strengthened during the prebiotic supplement period.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Reading in the UK. It was published in the March 2013 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Prebiotics help your body produce good bacteria called probiotics and serve as food for the friendly bacteria. Having a varied composition of bacteria in your digestive system is essential for good gut health. Previous studies have linked healthy gut bacteria with strengthening the immune system, better gum health, weight loss, and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

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