Gut Bacteria Imbalances Causing Weight Gain

Can using probiotics aid in weight loss? No doubt about it, people are starting to understand how important the health of your gut is and how optimum gut health can lead to many health improvements. So naturally the question arises “Can probiotics lead to weight loss because they are ‘good for your gut?'” Let’s take a moment to discuss what we know about probiotics and weight loss.

If you need help with bacteria, weight gain, and probiotics, click here.

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio, and recently I posted a video discussing probiotics for weight loss and how probiotics might be able to manipulate the microbiota to garner weight loss. And unfortunately, the results of the studies are not hugely promising. One to 3 pounds is what is seen in the best trials of using probiotics or prebiotics to manipulate the gut in order to garner weight loss.

Now, there was one concept I discussed. And I wanted to do a follow-up note on this. This was the firmicutes to bacteroidetes ratio. The erroneous premise that is still circulating to some extent based upon animal data that I think really needs to be updated, and I hope that we will update, is that this claimed imbalance in the firmicutes to bacteroidetes ratio can cause obesity.

And essentially, firmicutes and bacteroidetes are two major phyla of bacteria in the gut. And the criticism, or the hypothesis, has been that Westernized diets lead to high levels of firmicutes relative to Bacteroidetes. And that causes obesity. This is shown in the animal data, not reinforced in the human data. So again, high firmicutes—bad, causes weight gain is the hypothesis.

Now, another reason that this hypothesis might be erroneous is because the bacteria, the probiotics used in the weight loss trials like the bifidobacterium species and the lactobacillus species that I mentioned in my last video are of the firmicutes phylum. So by giving more of the bacterial phylum that is supposed to cause weight gain, we’re actually producing a small amount of weight loss.

How do we account for this? I think via two reasons. One, the firmicutesbacteroidetes ratio is erroneous as I’ve discussed previously.

And two, because the primary benefit that we see here might be the anti-inflammatory benefit that we can receive from using a probiotic because, remember, probiotics don’t colonize. They’re transient passersby, only for a couple weeks.

But in that time, they can have an effect on metabolism and on inflammation and leaky gut. So the likely primary benefit coming from these firmicutes phylum probiotics is anti-inflammatory. And that’s probably why we’re seeing a small amount of weight loss.

So I hope this is helpful. And we’ll keep you posted on other updates on this issue as they become available. Thanks!


If you need help with bacteria, weight gain, and probiotics, click here.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.

Discussion

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24 thoughts on “Gut Bacteria Imbalances Causing Weight Gain

  1. Possibly more evidence: my stool exam show the dominance of firmishutes and I’m lean and muscular but visually skinny.

  2. Possibly more evidence: my stool exam show the dominance of firmishutes and I’m lean and muscular but visually skinny.

  3. Hi, thank you for such an informative article! We are trying to figure out an issue with our daughters F/B ratio from a Genova GI stool test. She has Hashimitos and is starting to struggle with weight even though she’s an athlete and eats The Autoimmune Paleo diet (AIP). Her functional doctor has her taking a “very good” probiotic and we think it may be causing weight issues for her because when she ran out for three weeks, she was finally losing inflammation and when she restarted it without any other med/supplement changes, her weight has started to go up. Her F/B ratio is 4 (very low) in the range of 12-620. We are also considering that she may have histamine issues with the probiotic. Any insight with the ratio and if you think this is a possibility would be so wonderful! Is a low ratio just as telling for weight issues as a high ratio or do you think that is totally outdated. Thank you very much in advance!!

  4. Hi, thank you for such an informative article! We are trying to figure out an issue with our daughters F/B ratio from a Genova GI stool test. She has Hashimitos and is starting to struggle with weight even though she’s an athlete and eats The Autoimmune Paleo diet (AIP). Her functional doctor has her taking a “very good” probiotic and we think it may be causing weight issues for her because when she ran out for three weeks, she was finally losing inflammation and when she restarted it without any other med/supplement changes, her weight has started to go up. Her F/B ratio is 4 (very low) in the range of 12-620. We are also considering that she may have histamine issues with the probiotic. Any insight with the ratio and if you think this is a possibility would be so wonderful! Is a low ratio just as telling for weight issues as a high ratio or do you think that is totally outdated. Thank you very much in advance!!

  5. I took a very good quality probiotic for leaky gut and while it did help with that, and with constipation, it caused me to gain 10 lbs without changing my diet! More practitioners need to be talking about the potential weight gain probiotics can cause.

    1. This is the exact same thing that happened to me! My self-esteem was getting so low because I had no idea why my stomach was getting larger while I was still in shape and eating healthy. I started taking Fortify women’s probiotic and realized this unbalanced ratio was causing weight gain!

  6. I took a very good quality probiotic for leaky gut and while it did help with that, and with constipation, it caused me to gain 10 lbs without changing my diet! More practitioners need to be talking about the potential weight gain probiotics can cause.

    1. This is the exact same thing that happened to me! My self-esteem was getting so low because I had no idea why my stomach was getting larger while I was still in shape and eating healthy. I started taking Fortify women’s probiotic and realized this unbalanced ratio was causing weight gain!

  7. I’m having difficulties translating this into layperson-speak. Maybe I’m also experiencing the brain-fog! I’d landed from starting research, since I’ve had an alarming weight gain over the past year and it only just occurred that maybe it’s from the probiotics. I do remember a friend who was also experiencing gastro issues read, or heard, some negative news re: brain fog from probiotics (which she’d also been considering) & she did not start them. (Oddly, we’d also both experienced severe diarrhea from Benefiber healthy Shape (not all that long before) within a week of each other, never having discussed previously. We both discontinued within a week. I reported issue to the company.)

    I’d been having issues with stool and diarrhea after 2 bouts of c. difficile colitis the preceding approx. 5 years-the 1st being lesser (from frequent antibiotic use/sinus infections) the 2nd much more severe (not antiobitic-related with several years in between; I hadn’t taken any antiobiotics for the year prior; had an outing to attend a show w/a nice dinner out @ upscale restaurant where i’d eaten before w/no negative incidents. At show, friend was pushing popcorn and snacks, which I didn’t want; I’d never eaten in that theatre before where I had previously attended other shows, but in order for well-meaning friend to cease & desist so I could enjoy the show, I had a handful-end result, Very sick w/c.diff for 5 months, losing total of 15 lbs.) Fast forward: I continued taking Renew Life Ultimate Flora 50 Billion Probiotic. I’d begun taking March 2017 (I verified this through Vitamin Shoppe order history.) The weight gain wasn’t immediate; it’s happened over time, but probably mid-way through last year it’s become more alarming and is largely belly fat. I’d taken that brand after research, learning the more strains the better. I’d also taken, for years prior, and during, Solgar Advanced Acidophilus Plus with no untoward side effects-taken to offset any gastro-related sxs from Omega-Brite Omega 3’s.

    I’ve been slim my entire life and never had to diet. I’m disciplined; never eating any snacks out of package or box; taking small portion and putting pckg. away. Meal portions have also been controlled. Middle-of-the-road; balance=key. General viewpoint as per upbringing: anything over or under=imbalance (life summary; not only pertaining to food). I am concerned distcontinuing probiotics will result in daily diarrhea issues again, but I fear any continued weight increases and need at now need to drop at least 15 lbs. The additional weight is negatively impacting my knees and ankles, b/c this is too much weight for my frame. I’m 20 lbs. heavier in a year. I’ve never swayed under or over 5 lb. weight difference of what I feel to be my ideal weight. Since I can’t decipher the detailed probiotic-speak, I have no idea if the ones I’ve taken fall into the possible weight-gain realm=reason for my message-would sincerely appreciate any direction. ~Karen

    1. Hi Karen,

      You could always try switching to a different probiotic to see if you notice a difference. We carry 3 different high-quality probiotics in our online store: https://store.drruscio.com/

      If you’re having recurrent gut issues, I would also recommend picking up a copy of Dr Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, as it walks through a DIY protocol to overcome stubborn gut issues. It can be found here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook Many people find that after treating gut issues, they experience weight loss (see this interview:https://drruscio.com/sibo-treatment-weight-loss/)

    2. I’ve had the same exact problem and I’ve spent 1000s on all sorts of probiotics! They are worthless and not much is known how they affect individuals with different health histories. They make me blow up like a balloon every time I take them.

  8. I’m having difficulties translating this into layperson-speak. Maybe I’m also experiencing the brain-fog! I’d landed from starting research, since I’ve had an alarming weight gain over the past year and it only just occurred that maybe it’s from the probiotics. I do remember a friend who was also experiencing gastro issues read, or heard, some negative news re: brain fog from probiotics (which she’d also been considering) & she did not start them. (Oddly, we’d also both experienced severe diarrhea from Benefiber healthy Shape (not all that long before) within a week of each other, never having discussed previously. We both discontinued within a week. I reported issue to the company.)

    I’d been having issues with stool and diarrhea after 2 bouts of c. difficile colitis the preceding approx. 5 years-the 1st being lesser (from frequent antibiotic use/sinus infections) the 2nd much more severe (not antiobitic-related with several years in between; I hadn’t taken any antiobiotics for the year prior; had an outing to attend a show w/a nice dinner out @ upscale restaurant where i’d eaten before w/no negative incidents. At show, friend was pushing popcorn and snacks, which I didn’t want; I’d never eaten in that theatre before where I had previously attended other shows, but in order for well-meaning friend to cease & desist so I could enjoy the show, I had a handful-end result, Very sick w/c.diff for 5 months, losing total of 15 lbs.) Fast forward: I continued taking Renew Life Ultimate Flora 50 Billion Probiotic. I’d begun taking March 2017 (I verified this through Vitamin Shoppe order history.) The weight gain wasn’t immediate; it’s happened over time, but probably mid-way through last year it’s become more alarming and is largely belly fat. I’d taken that brand after research, learning the more strains the better. I’d also taken, for years prior, and during, Solgar Advanced Acidophilus Plus with no untoward side effects-taken to offset any gastro-related sxs from Omega-Brite Omega 3’s.

    I’ve been slim my entire life and never had to diet. I’m disciplined; never eating any snacks out of package or box; taking small portion and putting pckg. away. Meal portions have also been controlled. Middle-of-the-road; balance=key. General viewpoint as per upbringing: anything over or under=imbalance (life summary; not only pertaining to food). I am concerned distcontinuing probiotics will result in daily diarrhea issues again, but I fear any continued weight increases and need at now need to drop at least 15 lbs. The additional weight is negatively impacting my knees and ankles, b/c this is too much weight for my frame. I’m 20 lbs. heavier in a year. I’ve never swayed under or over 5 lb. weight difference of what I feel to be my ideal weight. Since I can’t decipher the detailed probiotic-speak, I have no idea if the ones I’ve taken fall into the possible weight-gain realm=reason for my message-would sincerely appreciate any direction. ~Karen

    1. Hi Karen,

      You could always try switching to a different probiotic to see if you notice a difference. We carry 3 different high-quality probiotics in our online store: https://store.drruscio.com/

      If you’re having recurrent gut issues, I would also recommend picking up a copy of Dr Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, as it walks through a DIY protocol to overcome stubborn gut issues. It can be found here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook Many people find that after treating gut issues, they experience weight loss (see this interview:https://drruscio.com/sibo-treatment-weight-loss/)

    2. I’ve had the same exact problem and I’ve spent 1000s on all sorts of probiotics! They are worthless and not much is known how they affect individuals with different health histories. They make me blow up like a balloon every time I take them.

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