Obesity and related disorders are at an epidemic proportion. The rising number of people who are overweight or obese in countries around the world has created a growing need for effective solutions. Despite many supplements on the market there is still an urgent need for a better, more proven, and a more effective product. With the increased awareness of the gut-brain connection, probiotics may offer an opportunity to tackle this problem.
Recently, a novel bacterial strain isolated from healthy babies has been selected, fully evaluated and screened for its scientifically validated weight management solution. This strain is called Bifidobacterium lactis or BPL-1.
Since 1975, the worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled, resulting in more than 650 million adults having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more as of 2016.1 Almost 40% of adults — 1.9 billion people — are overweight.
Data on the numbers of overweight children provide reasons to think these figures may continue to rise. Around 340 million children aged five to 19 years old are overweight. An estimated 41 million children aged five and under are overweight.
The numbers suggest many countries around the world are heading toward a health crisis, the so called globesity. Weight is a major risk factor for many of the conditions that are the biggest killers and burdens on healthcare systems, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Unchecked, the rising prevalence of people with BMIs above 25 could drive increases in these diseases and other chronic conditions.
This situation has emerged despite public health bodies, businesses and individuals committing time and money to weight management efforts. The failure of these efforts has left people distrustful of many fat reduction initiatives, as shown by declining interest in dieting and fat-free foods, skepticism about weight management products and the low uptake of dietary supplements for weight loss.2-4
New, scientifically validated approaches are needed to rebuild trust in weight management interventions and help people live lifestyles that enable them to reach and maintain healthy weights.
Discovery of BP-1
A Spanish company called Biopolis set out to identify a novel strain with favorable weight management properties by using the nematode C. elegans as an in vivo fat reduction model. The screen identified Bifidobacterium lactis BPL1, a strain isolated from the feces of a breastfed baby, as the most promising bacteria of the more than 35 tested.
After extensive screening data by running transcriptomic and metabolomic tests to elucidate the strain’s mechanisms of action. The experiments showed BPL1 acts on metabolic pathways found in both the nematode and humans, increasing confidence that the results would translate into the clinic, and revealed that the strain has potent antioxidant properties.
Showing BPL1 works when heat killed!
One of the biggest issues facing probiotics is shelf stability and meeting label claims for colony forming units or cfu’s and making sure that what the label states will be true before the expiry date. This is a huge problem as probiotics are prone to rapidly dying off and unlikely to meet label claims. Health Canada has come down hard and want all manufacturers to show stability data. This has proven difficult as cfu’s decrease rapidly even within a few months!
A novel approach is to use heat-killed probiotic, since there is no issue of claiming any cfu’s since the probiotic is hat-inactivated so cfu’s don’t matter and defending your label claim and satisfying Health Canada won’t be an issue. But the big question is the heat-killed probiotic still be effective?
A chance discovery (as most are!) showed, when a probiotic which was accidentally inactivated by heat showed it was as potent as or even more powerful activity than the live probiotic opened the door to looking at heat inactivation of probiotics as a novel approach to the age-old probiotic stability issue. This was an important discovery. Today, a few more heat-inactivated probiotics are showing activity as good as or even better than the live probiotic.
Studies confirmed the potential of BPL-1 in two placebo-controlled studies in animal models of obesity before initiating a human clinical trial. The trial enrolled 135 abdominally overweight subjects and randomized them to receive daily doses of either placebo, alive BPL-1 or heat-killed BPL-1.
After three months, subjects who received either form of BPL1 experienced significant reductions in waist circumference and abdominal visceral fat compared to placebo. Waist reductions of 1.75cm and 1.9cm were seen in the alive and heat killed BPL1 cohorts, respectively. Subjects in the placebo arm experienced reductions of 0.2cm.
The waist reduction data was compared with other endpoints, such as changes in basal metabolic index (BMI), and an index of abdominal obesity. In each case, both versions of BP-1 outperformed placebo, with the heat-killed version often performing as well or even better than the alive version.
Mechanism of action of BLP-1?
The definition of a postbiotic is, “Soluble factors produced by the cell and/or its remaining cellular components e.g. the cell wall, that can act on the human body in a positive healthy manner even if the bacteria are dead”. These factors include: enzymes, peptides, teichoic acids, peptidoglycan -derived muropeptides, polysaccharides, cell surface proteins, and organic acids.
Spanish researchers found that a specific component of the cell wall of the BLP-1 strain called lipoteichoic acid (LTA) is responsible for its fat-reducing properties especially when there is high sugar levels. The fat-reducing capacity LTA when given in a pure form acted in a similar manner to BPL-1, and the fat reducing effect was abolished when there was no glucose present. What this means is that LTA or BLP-1 functions in the presence of glucose, which is exactly the challenge in weight management- too much of glucose in our diet! Moreover, researchers demonstrated that LTA exerts this function through the insulin signaling IGF-1 pathway, similar to the BPL1 strain. These results open the possibility of using BLP-1 as a novel postbiotic, whose beneficial properties can be applied therapeutically and/or preventively in metabolic syndrome and diabetes-related disorders.
Synergy with Soluble Fiber
Another interesting observation in animal study showed a surprising synergistic combination that increased the effects of BPL-1. In one test, a combination of soluble fiber and BP-1 given together as a beverage produced a 35% reduction in fat, as compared to declines of 18.7% and 12.7% in the BP-1 and soluble fiber respectively. It is possible that human studies may show similar synergy! Combination of AOR’s SoluFiber with BLP-1 would be an excellent combination to achieve this synergy!
In summary BLP-1 is a novel, patented, postbiotic which tackles the stubborn issue of weight management via a novel mechanism of LTA by inhibiting utilization of glucose. Unlike many probiotics, there is no stability and therefore potency issues with BLP-1. It is a simple one a day dose!
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Caimari, A., del Bas, J. M., Boqué, N., Crescenti, A., Puiggròs, F., Chenoll, E., … & Arola, L. (2017). Heat -killed Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CECT 8145 increases lean mass and ameliorates metabolic syndrome in cafeteria -fed obese rats. Journal of Functional Foods, 38, 251 -263 .
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