Can Probiotics Help You Lose Weight?

September 19, 2012 3 Comments by Scott Isaacs, M.D.

A study performed in Amish people has found that certain strains of gut bacteria are associated with increased risk for the components of metabolic syndrome.  The research was done in people from the Old Order Amish sect in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This unique population was chosen because of they have a lot of homogeneousness in their genetics, economic and social status, and lifestyle, which decreases potential confounders. In the study, 203 unique types of bacteria were identified. Of these, there were three strains of suspect bacteria. They were Prevotella, Oscillospira, and Bacteroides.

To diagnose metabolic syndrome, an individual must have three of the following components:

  • Fasting glucose level more than 100 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure greater than 135/85
  • Waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men, 35 inches in women
  • Triglyceride level greater than 150 mg/dL
  • Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, less than 40 mg/dL in men, less than 50 mg/dL in women

These criteria were developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The study was done at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The lead author of the study, Dr. M. Zupanic concluded:

 “Certain members of the gut microbiota may play a role in metabolic derangements.”

Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria and can be found in pills or in yogurt. Based on the results of this study, one might conclude that replacing harmful bacteria in the gut to a healthier gut flora might result in a reduction in the components of metabolic syndrome. The hope is that probiotics would result in weight loss, decreased waist circumference, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar and improved cholesterol profile. This study has not been done, but it seems logical to conclude that a positive effect might be seen. I would encourage Dr. Zupanic and colleagues to perform this study.

For more information on this study:

Zupancic M, et al “Analysis of the gut microbiota in the Old Order Amish and its relation to the metabolic syndrome” PLoS One 2012; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043052.

For more information on metabolic syndrome, please read my book Hormonal Balance: How to Lose Weight by Understanding Your Hormones and Metabolism or visit my Facebook page.



  1. Kirk Townsend says:
    Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 6:28pm

    I am interested in getting more info about your product and its effects on weight loss . Please e-mail me the info. Thank you.

  2. Scott Isaacs, MD says:
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 11:26am

    I don’t sell or promote any specific brands of probiotics. There are several good products availble and are sold in regular pharmacies, but sometimes you have to ask the pharmacist because they may keep them behind the counter. You could also try eating nonfat or low fat yogurt.

  3. Betsy says:
    Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:31pm

    I have lowered chlolestrol, blood pressure an blood glucose. The last time I was weighed I lost 38 lbs. but of those lost pounds 10 have been since taking Natures Bounty Probiotics over 1 1/2 months. My high blood pressure is down. I just took it 15 minutes ago and it was 104/63 and P 73. My glucose was 97 at 8:12am, 147 at 10:15am (2 hrs. after eating) and 99 at 1:45pm).
    I looked on the Internet to find out if this good be the reason for lower counts. I didn’t start taking probiotics for this reason. I thought probiotics might help with going from diarrhea to constipation and it has.

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