IF YOU’VE HEARD anything about probiotics, you likely know that these live bacteria (found in foods like kefir, yogurt, and kombucha) are key for good gut health. And if you consider that your microbiome—all of the bacteria in your body—is a mix of good and bad bacteria (like the kind that make you sick), it’s important to have enough of the good guys so your body functions properly.
The problem is, it’s tough to get enough from food alone, so a supplement—like one that blends enzymes and other ingredients, like ginger to help with digestion—is a good bet.
Even more: Probiotics do far more than ease stomach troubles.
“Probiotics have been around for awhile but in the past five years, there’s been a lot more research on them,” says Kristina Secinaro, R.D., a research dietitian in the Center for Clinical Investigation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. “And while most people just thought of probiotics as beneficial for digestive health, your gut is connected to your entire body.”
1. Weight loss
Consuming probiotics really can reduce your body weight and body mass index, according to a new meta-analysis published in theInternational Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, which provides evidence that’s previously been lacking. Researchers combined the findings of 25 randomized trials, including over 1,900 healthy adults. Interestingly, ingesting more than one type of probiotic and taking them for 8 weeks or more results in the greatest amount of weight loss. But it’s still pretty modest. Men and women saw a decrease in weight by 0.59 kg (1.3 pounds) and BMI by 0.49 kg/m2 (your BMI is weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters). Kimball also notes that probiotics can improve your blood sugar control and affect sensitivity to leptin (a hormone that helps regulate appetite.) This is key for anyone struggling with type 2 diabetes. This meta-analysis backs it up: Even this small reduction in weight can lower your risk for diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.