Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Need to lose weight? Trust your gut

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Need to lose weight? Trust your gut

Could your gut be the key to your weight loss ahead of December’s beach holiday?

That’s right – there’s a chance that you need look no further than your own gut, ironically, for the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

According to Evexia Pharma Director, Cameron du Toit, a growing body of evidence proves that metabolic health – that is the ability to put on or lose weight, as well as other factors directly relating to heart disease, diabetes and stroke – is inseparable from the health of the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome, especially that in the GI tract or lower intestine, comprises a diverse range of trillions of micro-organisms. These tiny organisms communicate with our brains through a chemical pathway known as the gut-brain axis. As a result of this, the gut regulates many of the body’s functions.

“One of the surprising results from recent studies1 is that some people’s guts are more efficient than others at extracting calories from foods,” said du Toit. “In other words, the microbial bacteria inside you determines how much energy you absorb from your food and supplements. So, some people put on weight when others don’t.

“We knew this ‘some do/some don’t’ phenomenon existed in animals before we knew about it in humans. With the affordability of antibiotics in the 1950s, farmers around the world starting giving them to their livestock. Cows that received these antibiotics grew larger and more quickly, and giving livestock antibiotics became a common practice to ‘fatten out’ the herd.

“Today we know that, just as antibiotics are associated with faster growth in cattle, a decrease in diversity in the human microbiome is associated with obesity. This has led to studies to determine what impact increasing the diversity of the microbiome will have on overall human health, and specifically on weight loss,” he said.

Du Toit said the probiotic strains shown to have mostly positive results in reducing weight in both humans and rodents are lactobacilli and bifidobacterial. By breaking down nutrients and helping them pass through the walls of the bowel, these microbes serve as a sort of gatekeeper between what is eaten and what actually makes it into the body. Without them, more is let in.

“Based on recent findings, it seems the key to weight loss could very well be in maintaining a health gut microbiome. The smart thing to do, is therefore look after your gut. Ensure you have a diverse, healthy diet of pre- and probiotic rich food and supplement with a high-quality probiotic that can ensure its bacteria is protected from being destroyed by stomach acid. And let your gut do the rest,” he said.

The critical point made by du Toit is ‘ensuring the bacteria gets to the gut’. Most probiotics don’t even make it to the gut. If these good bacteria are not protected, as much as 90% are destroyed by stomach acid.

Du Toit’s company has launched the first probiotic in South Africa to utilise DuoCap technology. DuoCap technology revolutionised ingestible medication and supplement markets worldwide because it dramatically increased the efficacy of these products by protecting the active ingredients from stomach acid until they reach the lower intestine, where they are most readily absorbed.


Probitec’s Duocap™ technology ensures the full CFU1 count of probiotic bacteria is delivered to the lower intestine. According to analyses of the best-selling probiotics, ProbitecTM was shown to deliver 10 times more probiotics to the gut than the next best performing brand, and 2000 times more than the market leader.

The recommended retail price for a month’s supply of ProbitecTM capsules is R349. They can be purchased from http://www.naturalchoice.co.za/collections/probitechttp://www.takealot.com and select Dis-Chem, Link, Alpha and MediRite pharmacies nationwide.

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1. Studies supporting gut health and weight loss

In 2013, a biologist at Washington University, Jeffrey Gordon, found the microbiome associated with obesity is transferable. His lab took gut bacteria from pairs of human twins in which only one twin was obese, then fed the samples to mice. The mice given bacteria from the obese humans quickly gained weight. The others did not. (Source: https://www.nature.com/news/bacteria-from-lean-cage-mates-help-mice-stay-slim-1.13693)

In another study, obese patients who received transplants from lean donors later had healthier responses to insulin. (Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413117305594)

A relevant meta-analysis study, published in 2018, scoured 4721 articles. The conclusion was that “Overall, when the utilisation of gut microbiome-modulating dietary agents such as prebiotics or probiotics were compared to placeboes, there were significant decreases in BMI, weight and fat mass.” (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5867888/)

Du Toit believes this could have far-reaching implications for our diets as calorie content and nutritional value is now not as important as the make-up of the microbial population of the person eating the food as well as the status of their immune system.

Published in Health and Medicine