Probiotics Linked with Obesity and Inflammation

lower bacteria diversity leads to greater inflammation

Photo by AJ Cann

Ever wonder why some people seem to have more inflammation, fatigue and obesity than others despite their best efforts? New research has discovered the answer relates to the diversity of our gut’s probiotic bacteria.

New human clinical research from France has found that the more genetic diversity our gut bacteria have, the lower our tendency for inflammation, obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

The research comes from France’s Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute of Agronomic Research or INRA). In a study that culminated from a decade of progressive research linking probiotics to obesity, over 75 prominent European researchers assembled to gather and analyze the data from 292 patients.

The researchers tested 123 obese Danish people, along with 169 non-obese Dans. They conducted medical examinations on each individual, measuring not only their weight and body fat, but their level of insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular condition and general inflammation parameters.

Individual gut bacteria

The researchers also tested the makeup of each individual’s gut bacteria. This was done through DNA analysis, which tests the genetic diversity – read the number of different strains – of the probiotic bacteria living within the gut.

The research found that 23% of the entire group of 292 had low levels of diversity – which the researchers referred to as “bacterial richness.” This 23% had an average of 380,000 genes, while the average gene count of those with more diverse bacteria had a count of 640,000 genes on average.

More importantly, the researchers found that those with lower probiotic diversity had significantly greater levels of obesity, higher cholesterol levels, more insulin resistance and a greater level of inflammatory conditions.

Those with lower levels of probiotic diversity also would struggle more with their weight. The researchers noted:

“The obese individuals among the lower bacterial richness group also gain more weight over time.”

In their investigation of the strains of probiotics that directly lead to greater probiotic diversity, the researchers found that species of Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus were associated with greater gene microbiota diversity. They also found that pathogenic microorganism genus’ such as Bacteroides and Ruminococcus are linked with lower levels of genetic diversity.

It should be added that the former group of probiotic bacteria have been linked in other research as being anti-inflammatory, while those in the second (pathogenic) group have been associated in other research as being pro-inflammatory microorganisms.

ProbioticsBook by Case Adams Naturopath


Another French study – partner study within MetaHIT, a European Union-commissioned organization focused upon solving obesity and metabolic disease among western countries – also linked lower probiotic gene diversity with greater levels of inflammation.

In this study, 49 obese or overweight patients were tested for gene diversity among their intestinal bacteria. The researchers found that 40% of the group had lower levels of probiotic gene diversity, and these individuals also had greater levels of “low-grade inflammation” and general “dys-metabolism” as compared with the rest of the group.

Healthier diet linked

This study also found that a healthier diet with fewer processed carbohydrates (read junk food) led to higher scores of genetic diversity. However, the dietary intervention did not work as well for those with lower levels of genetic diversity at the beginning of the study:

“Dietary intervention improves low gene richness and clinical phenotypes, but seems to be less efficient for inflammation variables in individuals with lower gene richness.”

In other words, a diet that aids the growth of healthy probiotics (rich in prebiotics) can also help reduce weight and inflammation, but the problem of lower levels of probiotics in the gut must also be focused upon.


Le Chatelier E, Nielsen T, Qin J, Prifti E, Hildebrand F, Falony G, Almeida M, Arumugam M, Batto JM, Kennedy S, Leonard P, Li J, Burgdorf K, Grarup N, Jørgensen T, Brandslund I, Nielsen HB, Juncker AS, Bertalan M, Levenez F, Pons N, Rasmussen S, Sunagawa S, Tap J, Tims S, Zoetendal EG, Brunak S, Clément K, Doré J, Kleerebezem M, Kristiansen K, Renault P, Sicheritz-Ponten T, de Vos WM, Zucker JD, Raes J, Hansen T; MetaHIT consortium, Bork P, Wang J, Ehrlich SD, Pedersen O, Guedon E, Delorme C, Layec S, Khaci G, van de Guchte M, Vandemeulebrouck G, Jamet A, Dervyn R, Sanchez N, Maguin E, Haimet F, Winogradski Y, Cultrone A, Leclerc M, Juste C, Blottière H, Pelletier E, LePaslier D, Artiguenave F, Bruls T, Weissenbach J, Turner K, Parkhill J, Antolin M, Manichanh C, Casellas F, Boruel N, Varela E, Torrejon A, Guarner F, Denariaz G, Derrien M, van Hylckama Vlieg JE, Veiga P, Oozeer R, Knol J, Rescigno M, Brechot C, M’Rini C, Mérieux A, Yamada T. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):541-6.

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Adams C. Probiotics – Protection Against Infection: Using Nature’s Tiny Warriors To Stem Infection and Fight Disease. Logical Books, 2012.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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