As the research on probiotics continues to mushroom, some very compelling applications are being shown that would not have previously been attributed to the microbiome.
Along those lines, then, there's some very interesting research surrounding a new probiotic strain called, Bifidobacterium Lactis B420.
Now, before we examine the research on this strain, let's first note that medical science is beginning to make a connection between body weight and gut microbiota. This was first discovered by accident with fecal implant patients. Doctors began to notice that recipients of fecal implants would take on the characteristics of the donor in terms of body composition. So a study was done on mice to try to reproduce this, and indeed they found the same thing in the laboratory. A fecal sample was taken from an obese person and implanted into a mouse, and the mouse gained weight.
So enter, then, the research on B. Lactis B420.
Before we look at the research specific to body weight, let’s first look at the various other benefits of this impressive strain on other health paramters.
Experimental research has indicated that:
- B420 increased tight junction integrity of epithelial cells, and therefore protected gut epithelial cells from the harmful effects of pathogenic microbes.
- B420 protected against NSAID-induced GI side effects in a rat model by reducing an NSAID-induced inrease in stomach permeability
- B420 reduced mucosal dysbiosis, bacterial translocation, expression of major pro-inflammatory cytokines in various tissues, and improved glucose metabolism in mice fed a high fat diet (HFD).
- In HFD-fed mice, B420 modulated gut microbiota and improved glucose intolerance. Further, the combination prevented the impairment of intestinal immunity due to metabolic abnormalities induded by the HFD.
- In a mouse model of diabetes, B420 enhanced concentrations of ileum GLP-1, a protein involved in both insulin secretion and satiety signaling.
- In an obese mouse model, increases in body weight and fat mass in mice fed with HFD for 12 weeks were significantly reduced if the mice were co-administered B420.
- In a diabetes mouse model, mice receiving both HFD and B420 had decreased fat mass compared with mice receiving only HFD. B420 also improved glucose metabolism in this mouse model.
So this is already a very impressive list of benefits even without the benefits of weight control. But now let’s turn our attention to that aspect, which is human data.
The goal here was to determine if the B420 could make a change in the incremental body weight that many people experience over time as they age. The untreated group of overweight individuals gained 3.1% of bodyweight in six months. The overweight group receiving 10 billion units per day of the B420 probiotic strain, however, did not gain any extra body weight in that same period of time, and they observed no dietary or lifestyle changes. All they did was add the probiotic. The probiotic group also showed a slight decrease in waist circumference of 2.4%, AND they ate less, showing improved satiety with the use of the probiotic strain.
Another very positive benefit was the improvement in short chain fatty acids over that period of time, a huge benefit to gut health.
Now, as we know, many people tend to gain weight as they age, some a little, and some a lot. It’s too early to tell if the B420 can legitimately be called a weight LOSS probiotic, but it can certainly be called a weight CONTROL probiotic. With that in mind, remember that those in the study didn’t change anything about their lifestyles. So it could be, perhaps, that if this probiotic strain was added to a weight loss plan, it may amplify the effects of the other weight loss efforts….maybe. Again, there’s not enough information to go on yet to verify that statement, but I think it’s a fairly good assumption that this could be the case.
I’ll close by saying that weight gain with age is multi-factorial, and can be attributed to shifts in hormones and other factors. However, we cannot and should not rule out the changes in the microbiome that occur with age as well. And weight issues aside, there are enough other benefits with this remarkable strain that it should be considered for use with leaky gut and autoimmune patients, those with gut dysbiosis, and even glucose and insulin intolerance.
References available upon request