With obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases on the rise, maintaining a healthy weight is of critical importance. Why? Healthy weight management favorably impacts glucose regulation, lipid control, cardiovascular health parameters, intestinal barrier function, the strength of your immune system, and even your mental well-being. But weight management is challenging for many of us, and caloric restriction and exercise — even when practiced regularly — doesn’t always produce the weight loss effects we hope for. Plus, it’s challenging to balance weight loss goals with optimal nutritional values to stay healthy.
Enter prebiotics, a key segment of a healthy diet, and one that is critical for keeping your gut microbiome healthy, which in turn impacts the health of every organ system in your body. But what about prebiotics for weight loss, we hear you say? An added benefit of many prebiotics is their ability to aid you in your weight management efforts, which can have a beneficial ripple effect on so many other physiological measures.
While prebiotics are found in plentiful supply in dozens of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, sometimes consuming the right balance of such foods and achieving the optimal combination of important macro- and micronutrients can be challenging. Obtaining prebiotics in a supplement form is an option to consider. Eden’s synbiotic blend contains five carefully-tested prebiotics, together with four probiotics and five polyphenols.
3-in-1 Synbiotic Superblend
What are prebiotics?
There has been an explosion of research on gut health, and what we consume is as important as ever. The trillions of microbes residing in your gut (collectively known as the gut microbiome) are significantly impacted by what you eat, and a healthy gut microbiome makes a vital contribution to metabolic health and weight management.
In contrast to probiotics (such as yogurt and fermented products), which are live microorganisms that confer health benefits on the host, the fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are prebiotics that feed beneficial bacteria in your gut. Turns out the wise words of your mother (“Eat your vegetables!”) have a scientific basis. However, not all fibers are prebiotics unless they fulfill these criteria:
- Cannot be digested by mammals.
- Are fermented and digested by microbes.
- Are able to improve the functions of beneficial microbes.
Prebiotics are found in a wide range of foods, including:
- Whole grains (such as barley wheat, oats, and bran)
- Vegetables (such as artichokes and asparagus)
- Fruits (such as bananas, berries, and apples)
- Legumes (such as soybeans)
- Nuts and seeds
Prebiotics for weight loss: Do they really work?
Studies have established links between obesity and other metabolic disorders, marked by undesirable changes in the gut microbiome ecosystem, a phenomenon known as gut dysbiosis. Individuals with obesity or type 2 diabetes exhibit lower levels of beneficial bacteria that are required to maintain healthy body weight.
Considering this link, supporting a healthy gut microbiome with prebiotics could potentially restore healthy microbes and in turn improve metabolic outcomes that impact weight management. Prebiotics are indigestible and directly feed beneficial gut microbes through fermentation, and a number of biological mechanisms resulting from this process ultimately contribute to regulating metabolism and satiety. Indeed, several reports have demonstrated how prebiotics can help with weight loss:
- Consuming prebiotic fibers feeds beneficial bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) within your gut. These SCFAs subsequently promote healthy weight management through improvements in glycemic control and lipid metabolism. In support of this, other studies in individuals with type 2 diabetes have demonstrated that consuming prebiotics can improve glucose regulation and lower fats that promote metabolic diseases.
- One meta-review demonstrated that prebiotic fibers, such as galactomannan (a fiber found in locust bean gum, fenugreek, and alfalfa) and inulin fiber (found in fruits and vegetables like bananas, onions, and asparagus), improve weight management — again, through synergistic support of the gut microbiome via increased production of SCFAs and the delaying of gastric emptying (which in turn promotes satiety).
- In a study performed on rats with obesity, consumption of dietary fiber improved a number of metabolic outcomes by decreasing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and increasing satiety hormones. Moreover, examination of the animals’ gut microbiomes showed that consuming dietary fiber increases the abundance of beneficial bacteria and is associated with weight loss.
Certain prebiotic fibers have a particularly strong impact on factors that influence weight loss, including the previously mentioned galactomannan and inulin fibers. In addition:
- There are reports demonstrating that locust bean gum can improve lipid regulation and glycemic control. In one study involving a group of adults and children with hypercholesterolemia (a lipid disorder involving individuals with excess bad cholesterol), consumption of locust bean gum reduced both overall cholesterol and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels. A study performed in rats showed that intake of locust bean gum slowed the passage of food from the stomach to intestines, resulting in better glucose regulation and increased satiety. These results have been further supported by studies performed in humans, where supplementation of meals with locust bean gum delays the gastric emptying rate.
- Guar gum is another prebiotic that has been shown to have beneficial effects on weight management, especially in regulating satiety. One study demonstrated that individuals who added guar gum to their meals reported higher satiety, an effect that can make you feel more full throughout the day. Other scientists have shown that these satiety effects are associated with the delay of colonic transit time and increases in levels of satiety hormones.
- To add to this list of weight loss-promoting prebiotics, barley beta glucan is also efficacious for increasing satiety and improving glycemic control. In one study performed in mice, barley beta glucan intake slowed the development of obesity through the modification of insulin secretion and the beneficial modification of the gut microbiome. Other animal studies have shown that barley beta glucan can improve glycemic control by increasing levels of hormones that are important for glucose regulation. In a randomized, double-blind study performed in obese humans, substituting rice with a diet high in barley beta glucan significantly reduced body weight, along with favorable changes in metabolic outcomes (such as better measures of glycemic control and lipid metabolism).
As we’ve discussed, there are a large number of foods that contain prebiotic fibers; clearly, consumption of a diverse range of them holds the most promise for optimizing your gut health.
Prebiotic supplementation with Eden’s
Eden’s hand-selected list of prebiotics are locust bean gum, guar gum, barley beta glucan, resistant potato starch, and oat bran — formulated into a “synbiotic” that also contains four probiotics and five polyphenols (see here for "what is a synbiotic"). This special blend is designed to optimize the health of your metabolism, control your glucose and lipid levels, enhance your immunity, and improve your level of satiety — all factors that have strong associations with weight management and the support of a healthy gut microbiome.
While prebiotics are generally safe to consume, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially if you have any food allergies, intolerances, or are taking any medications.
Can prebiotics help with weight loss? Despite our best efforts, weight loss is a big challenge. A healthy diet and regular exercise are certainly critical for healthy weight and metabolism, but maximizing nutritional benefits while adopting new lifestyle choices can prove daunting. Recent research has shown that increasing your consumption of prebiotics is an excellent strategy for maintaining gut health, and also has significant downstream benefits for metabolic health — including weight management. Many grains, fruits, and vegetables are rich in prebiotics. However, targeted intake of prebiotic fibers, such as offered in certain dietary supplements, can accelerate the benefits of prebiotics for glycemic control, satiety, and weight control. Enter Eden’s synbiotic formula, a curated blend of five of the best prebiotic ingredients, along with a complementary set of probiotics and polyphenols that work together to optimize total metabolic health.