About 1 trillion microbes nicely live in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics are live bacteria that we can consume and improve the 1 trillion microbes’ nature for our benefits, be it weight loss, or maintaining an optimum level of weight or even weight gain.

As most of the absorption occurs at the gastrointestinal level, probiotics have a major role in being a part of the weight loss regimen. Study shows, obese children, children already having crossed the normal body mass index (BMI), may lose weight through the consumption of probiotic supplements.

A trial was conducted in China, wherein more than 50 obese children aged between 6 and 14 were studied for the action of the probiotic supplements. Out of 50, 30 were given the probiotic supplements containing probiotic capsules, and 24 were given a placebo (control group) for about 12 weeks. They were also told to increase physical activity and have a diet of reduced calorie intake. There were markers along with the BMI, namely blood glucose levels, insulin levels, inflammatory markers, body weights, and blood lipid levels. These markers only increase when there’s obesity or increased adipose tissue content in the body.

The obese kids showed to have reduced their body mass index significantly due to the consumption of probiotic supplements. The markers were observed to have shown improvement (lowered levels) post-consumption of probiotic supplements given to obese children. Oxidative stress, a term used for stress at the cellular level, too, showed improvement.

This became the first study conducted on obese children to know the effect of probiotic supplements over lipopolysaccharide-binding protein present in obese children.

A more extensive study needs to be planned

Since the study conducted by the China team involved only 50 plus children, they are yet to plan for an extensive study consisting of a greater number of children, so as to confirm their study. Some studies also showed no effect of probiotic supplementation over obese children. Hence, an extensive study and research are still needed in this field of experimentation. They also observed that the probiotic effect supplements caused in obese children lasted only for a short duration of time.

Obesity, be it in children or adults, comes with its relatives, namely type 2 diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Probiotic supplements seem to have the power to control the weight of a child or an adult, and subsequently cut down their risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes mellitus along with grave heart diseases like atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease, and acute coronary syndrome.

Good and bad bacteria?

Bacteria, known better for being a villain to our lives, actually come in two forms, the bad bacteria we acquire from pathogens or harmful agents and good bacteria, which are actually beneficial for us to function physiologically.

In our body, there are thousands and thousands of good and bad bacteria which maintain a good equilibrium. Once this equilibrium gets altered, disease results or sets in. To keep the bad bacteria in check, we need to increase the number of good bacteria in our body. To increase the population of good bacteria, we need to take the help of the probiotic supplements.

Probiotics, if we go deeper to dig their uses, we come to know that they are used to help deal with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, weak intestinal condition post heavy drugging in case of chronic diseases like Tuberculosis, skin conditions like eczema and the common allergic cold.

Now, how is a child going to benefit from the probiotic supplementation?

Children develop probiotics in the womb and throughout their early childhood. According to a survey, probiotics are used as the third natural product by children. Since childhood obesity is a growing problem, and it needs early intervention to prevent future health problems revolving around the heart and pancreas.

Childhood obesity is resulting from more dependency on technology for indoor and outdoor games, school, or a lack of friend circle to play with. It also stems from excessive junk food consumption and developing a dislike of healthy foods.

According to a recent study, they say 1 in 5 children is supposed to be afflicted with childhood obesity leading to overweight issues and proneness to heart disease and diabetes mellitus.

Another recent study suggests that by the year 2020, more than half of the children reaching secondary high school will be obese or overweight. The causes could be due to an unhealthy lifestyle, and immobility due to overdependence on technology.

Before saying yes to any probiotic supplementation, it is beneficial to take your primary doctor’s consultation. Probiotics may or may not help your child. Depending upon the requirement of your child, you need to consult your child’s pediatrician. Before you do visit your doctor, prepare a list of questions to need to know about. The questions may contain probiotic supplement’s brand name, benefits, indications for your child, dosage, duration, contraindications, and in case you don’t see any effects when to stop taking them.

Since the long-term effects of probiotic supplements are not known, it is advisable to give them to your child after your doctor’s recommendation.

For some children, it may tackle obesity. For some, it may deal with allergies like the common cold, and for some, it may help the child get rid of eczema. In some children, relief from diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, and colicky pain in the abdomen was also observed due to probiotic supplementation.

It is advisable to fall for natural probiotics like yogurt than going for supplemental probiotics. To make it more interesting for your child, you could blend yogurt with fruit and make a smoothie out of it. You could also use yogurt in place of jam or mayonnaise in a sandwich.

Just in the last few months, health campaigners were urging to apply ‘calorie tax’ to the organizations which produced processed foods with high-fat calorie and high-sugar calorie indexes, thus making them process healthier foods.

As such medical recommendations are not to be made since full discovery over probiotic supplements is yet to be made. One may depend on natural probiotics till then!