Hunger hormones and inflammation play key roles in obesity. Weight management is not just the difference between the calories you consume and burn off, there are additional variables implicated in the maintenance of a healthy weight.

Leptin is a hunger hormone with appetite modulating effects. This hormone acts as a switch in your brain to turn hunger signals off. Obese people tend to have more resistance to this hormone.

According to past research, a low calorie diet (<1400 calorie day) suppresses some of the hormones responsible for satiety for up to one year. This causes weight gain, increased appetite and increased food cravings. So the more a person tries to “diet” the hungrier they will become. This may partially explain why even the most disciplined dieter often regains lost weight. . . . plus five to 10 more pounds when the diet ends.

The intestinal flora of obese individuals differs from that of thin people. Different diets promote certain bacteria at the expense of others. Scientists in Quebec recruited 125 obese people split into two control groups. One group was given a probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus. The other group received a placebo. All subjects participated in a weight loss plan for 12 weeks followed by a weight-maintenance period for another 12 weeks.

After the 12-week weight loss period, the women in the treatment group lost an average of 9.7 pounds, compared to 5.7 pounds in the placebo group. What’s even more interesting is that after the maintenance period, the women in the treatment group continued to lose weight and body fat. In short, women consuming probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study.

It is believed that probiotics may act by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall. By keeping certain pro inflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, they might prevent the chain reaction that leads to glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

The immune system must be balanced to effectively burn fat. Inflammatory compounds block leptin receptor sites, making the body “resistant” to its effects. Consequently, the body responds by producing more leptin. This creates a vicious cycle of inflammation and obesity.

Probiotics lower intestinal permeability. They keep the intestinal barrier strong, which, could help keep inflammatory compounds from entering the bloodstream.

The typical Western diet can deplete the good bacteria in your gut. Antibiotics, excessive hygiene, and aging can cause further imbalances. Once the good bacteria are destroyed, bad bacteria quickly multiply and open the door for health problems.

Fortunately, there are foods and supplements that promote healthy levels of probiotics and leptin in the body; preventing digestive issues, impaired immune function and weight gain. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, making an effort to obtain more probiotics in your diet will support your immune system and can make a big difference in your health.

Here are some foods that support beneficial bacteria in the gut:

  • Yogurt
  • Soft cheeses
  • Natto
  • Sourdough bread
  • Pickled/fermented vegetables
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut

In addition to eating more of these foods, consider taking a probiotic supplement. It’s the easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough healthy bacteria into your body. We recommend consuming at least 15 billion live probiotic units each day, this is typically the amount found in a serving of yogurt, kefir, or a serving of a high-quality probiotic supplement.


Blog Post Written by HealthspanMDs