Can a probiotic make you skinny?

Probiotics and weight loss - can a probiotic make you skinny?

A 12 week randomised, controlled trial on 87 generally healthy adults with “obese tendencies” found those fed the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 showed statistically significant decreases in abdominal fat, as well as body weight, BMI, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat mass as compared with their control group (3).

The probiotic selected in the study came from human intestine and had been found to reduce enlarged fat cells caused by a high-fat diet in rats.  The strain had also been found to bind with cholesterol and promote its clearance (2). 

Do you match the participants’ profiles?

•          Between 33–63 years old

•          Body mass index (BMI) between 24.2 and 30.7kg/m2,

•          Abdominal visceral fat area between 81.2 and 178.5 cm2

•          Apart from their weight and fat stores participants did not have any serious health concerns including liver disease, autoimmune diseases or diabetes.

•          All participants were able to drink milk as the probiotic was in fermented milk.

•          Participants were Japanese (3).

So do you have car keys at the ready to race out and hunt down Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055?

The good news:

•          Previous and more recent studies on the same strain of probiotics have been able to reproduce similar results (1).

•          Research on the influence of bacteria on obesity is an exploding area of study and many more discoveries are soon to be released (2).

The not so good news:

•          The study size was very small, only 87 participants.

•          Men far outweighed women:  59 men and 28 women.

•          Potentially Japanese diets and lifestyles may interact with the probiotic strain in ways that our ethnic heritage does not.

•          Two of the researchers listed on the study were from dairy manufactures. However no conflicts of interest were declared (3).

Would I recommend it?

If you were between 33 – 63, overweight, with fat stores around your tummy Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 could certainly be one element of your tailored treatment plan. It is important to also eat a diet rich in the foods probiotic bugs enjoy eating so make sure you also increase your veggies and fibre in general. 

In health,

Sonia x


1. Cani, P. D., & Delzenne, N. M. (2011). The gut microbiome as therapeutic target. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 130(2), 202-212.

2. Delzenne, N. M., Neyrinck, A. M., Bäckhed, F., & Cani, P. D. (2011). Targeting gut microbiota in obesity: effects of prebiotics and probiotics. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 7(11), 639-646.

3. Kadooka, Y., Sato, M., Imaizumi, K., Ogawa, A., Ikuyama, K., Akai, Y., … & Tsuchida, T. (2010). Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(6), 636-643.  doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.19;

Naomi Chambers
Can Chocolate cause Pimples? The science of acne & what you eat

It’s the Easter Sunday tally of chocolate and hot cross buns and it’s time to get science to help me prevent pimples popping-up like bunny rabbits!

Don’t believe me that chocolate and hot cross buns can cause acne?  Studies on twins have proven, whilst the tendency to spots can run in families, diet has a very large impact on whether or not your face has an outcrop of zits (6).

In fact the Journal of Dermato-Endocrinology said “nutrition is one of the most important parameters that is involved in modulating skin health and condition” (3).

Causes of acne:

  • Cows milk including skim milk. Proven by studies on girls before the onset of their period and in adult women (6).

  • High glycemic foods, that is, foods high in sugar alter insulin and hormone production and function causing the skin to produce more oil (6).

  • Type of fat eaten.  Healthy fats in fish, avocados and meat do not promote pimples but unfortunately fats in processed foods may (6).

  • Chocolate. The (scientific) jury is still out on milk chocolate, however, if your chocolate has dairy, sugar and was not made in your kitchen it is more than likely to be pimple promoting (6).

Well considering afternoon tea was a high sugar nougat filled Easter Egg it’s too late for analysis of causes – time to research solutions!

When I was an image obsessed teenager I insisted my GP prescribe a course of antibiotics to fix my acne promising like a junkie jonesing for a fix “this would be my last time”!  Fast forward 20 years and my personal history of multiple immune disorders is a warning to all that antibiotic abuse is a short-sighted, short-term solution.

Natural solutions to Acne:

Vitamins and Minerals: Pimples typically leave a wound that is red, lumpy, and inflamed and nutrients like vitamins A and C, zinc and glucosamine may reduce pimple healing time and improve the appearance of the wound (3). 

Low sugar, high fibre:  Not only are high sugar diets linked to acne but a study on male volunteers noticed a greater improvement in total acne lesions while eating a low sugar, high fibre diet (3).

Avoid dairy and processed fats (6). 

Scientific theory but little research on vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced by your skin after sun exposure and scientists believe it may play some role in helping with acne.  Whilst this has not been proven there are many other benefits to regular sun exposure so I’ll make sure I top up my Vitamin D every day this week* (4,5).

Natural antiseptic: If pimples do turn up I will pop a drop of topical antiseptic tea tree oil (an essential oil of the Australian native tree Melaleuca alternifolia) on the bumps.  A single-blind, randomised clinical trial on 124 patients of 5% tea-tree oil compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion found both treatments had a significant effect in reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions and improving acne.  Although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower it also had fewer side effects (1).

My own theory with my own research: When dodging the very real possibility of pizza face I make sure my “organs of excretion”, that is, my liver, kidneys, bowels and lungs are working to move out the indulgences of the weekend.  In practical terms this means I add vegetables to every meal to increase fibre and the possibility of a big poo, drink over 2L (0.5 gallon) of water a day and go for a walk in the fresh air. On my face I use a clean salt based stick as an antibacterial solution just in those areas I am most likely to break out.

If you find that you have acne that is not responsive to these simple lifestyle measures you might have an underlying condition requiring further investigation and targeted treatment personalised to your body and circumstances.  

Happy Easter Sunday!

Sonia x

*Please always be sun safe.  I get my sun exposure before 11am, protect my face from the sun and leave before I turn pink.


1. Bassett, I. B., Pannowitz, D. L., & Barnetson, R. S. (1990). A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. The Medical Journal of Australia, 153(8), 455-458.

2. Melnik, B. C. (2013). The role of mTORC1 in acne pathogenesis and treatment.  Expert Review of Dermatology, 8(6), 617-622. doi:10.1586/17469872.2013.846514.

3. Piccardi, N., & Manissier, P. (2009). Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: impact on skin health and beauty. Dermato-endocrinology, 1(5), 271-274.

4. Reichrath, J. (2007). Vitamin D and the skin: an ancient friend, revisited. Experimental dermatology, 16(7), 618-625.

5. Schwalfenberg, G. K. (2011). A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Molecular nutrition & food research, 55(1), 96-108.

6. Spencer, E. H., Ferdowsian, H. R., & Barnard, N. D. (2009). Diet and acne: a review of the evidence. International journal of dermatology, 48(4), 339-347.

Naomi Chambers
Reducing Thyroid Antibodies in Hashimotos & Graves - The Essential Mineral Suppliment

If you are wanting to feel more energetic, more upbeat and regulate your weight with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease have you heard about selenium?  It is one of the most extensively researched, natural treatments for possibly reducing the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!

With selenium those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism “had a higher chance to improve the mood without significant adverse events”  (Fan, et al., 2014). 

What is Selenium?

Selenium is found in the food you eat and is needed for your thyroid and your immune system.

Not enough selenium in your body leads to:

-      Poor amounts of active thyroid hormone (T3). Low T3 levels can leave you feeling sluggish, tired and gaining weight (Canaris, Steiner & Ridgway, 1997).

-      Increased autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland which increases your risk of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or Graves’ hyperthyroidism (van Zuuren, et al, 2014).

-      The greater the number of thyroid antibodies the greater the risk of experiencing chronic fatigue, irritability, nervousness, dry hair, a history of breast cancer, early miscarriage, and lower quality-of- life levels (Ott, et al., 2011).  

Will it work for me?

The effect of selenium on reducing thyroid antibodies in both Hashimoto’s and Graves has been repeatedly studied by scientists with promising results.

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism: 

Taking a selenium supplement may reduce the antibody attack on your thyroid improving your mood and feeling of general well being. 

The research: Selenium supplementation has been repeatedly found to be associated with a significant decrease in thyroid antibody levels after 3, 6 and 12 months of use (Toulis, et al., 2010; Fan, et al., 2014)!

Graves’ disease:

Selenium supplementation has been found to enhance the effect of antithyroid drugs in patients with recurrent Graves’ disease (Wang et al., 2016; Vrca et al., 2004).

When you are pregnant & at risk of postpartum thyroiditis:

Selenium supplementation during pregnancy* and in the postpartum period reduced thyroid inflammatory activity and the incidence of hypothyroidism (Negro, et al., 2007). *Never take a supplement during pregnancy unless you have been specifically advised it is  ok for you and your developing bub by your treating medical professional. 

Graves’ orbitopathy:

Graves’ orbitopathy affects about half of people with Graves and a study concluded selenium supplementation for 6 months improves the course of Graves’ orbitopathy and the related impairment in quality of life (Marcocci, et al., 2011).

Can I Eat Selenium?

Selenium is found in our foods with the richest sources from: meat, fish, shellfish, offal, eggs and Brazil nuts (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003). However the amount of selenium in your food is dependent on the amount of selenium in the soil. If you are from Australia, New Zealand or Europe these countries are known to have very low selenium in their soil (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003).

How do I know if I am low in Selenium?

The most accurate way to find out own body’s selenium levels is to test your blood via a simple blood test.

Is it the miracle I have been searching for?

The jury is still out.

The argument PRO Selenium:

•          It might just help you feel better by reducing thyroid antibodies and improving the amount of active thyroid hormone in your body.

•          You don’t take it forever - somewhere between 3 – 12 months.

The argument ANTI Selenium

•      It may not work if you have enough selenium in your body (Karanikas, et at ., 2008). 

•      It may not work at all (van Zuuren, et al., 2014).

•      Need to remember to stop taking it after 3 - 12 months as long term selenium supplementation over 7 years was linked to high incidents of diabetes type 2 (Stranges, et al., 2007).

•      You can take too much selenium and too much is dangerous.

Tell me more about Selenium:

•      Your thyroid loves selenium! Your thyroid has the highest selenium concentrations (per gram) in your body as compared with all your other organs. 

•      Selenium makes thyroid hormones work. It helps make thyroid hormones active in the body forming part of the protein that converts the storage form of thyroid hormone T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3. 

•      Selenium protects your thyroid.  It has been found in scientific studies to help reduce damage to the thyroid by thyroid antibodies.

•      If you don’t have enough you could feel worse than you should be feeling.  Not having enough selenium in your body has been linked to greater potential for damage to both thyroid cells and tissue and this means potentially worse symptoms (Drutel, Archambeaud & Caron, 2013; Ott, et al., 2011).

In health,
Sonia x

Please remember the information contained in this blog is for your education and as a jumping off point for you to seek tailored advice specific to your circumstances.  Nothing written here can constitute medical advice for an individual. 


Calissendorff, J., Mikulski, E., Larsen, E. H., & Möller, M. (2015). A Prospective investigation of Graves’ disease and selenium: thyroid hormones, auto-antibodies and self-rated symptoms. European Thyroid Journal, 4(2), 93-98.

Canaris, G. J., Steiner, J. F., & Ridgway, E. C. (1997). Do traditional symptoms of hypothyroidism correlate with biochemical disease?. Journal of general internal medicine, 12(9), 544-550.

Drutel, A., Archambeaud, F., & Caron, P. (2013). Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clinical Endocrinology, 78(2), 155-164.

Fan, Y., Xu, S., Zhang, H., Cao, W., Wang, K., Chen, G., … & Liu, C. (2014). Selenium supplementation for autoimmune thyroiditis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2014.

Karanikas, G., Schuetz, M., Kontur, S., Duan, H., Kommata, S., Schoen, R., ... & Willheim, M. (2008). No immunological benefit of selenium in consecutive patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid, 18(1), 7-12.

Köhrle, J., & Gärtner, R. (2009). Selenium and thyroid. Best practice & research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 23(6), 815-827.

Marcocci, C., Kahaly, G. J., Krassas, G. E., Bartalena, L., Prummel, M., Stahl, M., … & Sivelli, P. (2011). Selenium and the course of mild Graves’ orbitopathy. New England Journal of Medicine, 364(20), 1920-1931.

Nacamulli, D., Mian, C., Petricca, D., Lazzarotto, F., Barollo, S., Pozza, D., … & Mantero, F. (2010). Influence of physiological dietary selenium supplementation on the natural course of autoimmune thyroiditis. Clinical Endocrinology, 73(4), 535-539.

Negro, R., Greco, G., Mangieri, T., Pezzarossa, A., Dazzi, D., & Hassan, H. (2007). The influence of selenium supplementation on postpartum thyroid status in pregnant women with thyroid peroxidase autoantibodies. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 92(4), 1263-1268.

Ott, J., Promberger, R., Kober, F., Neuhold, N., Tea, M., Huber, J. C., & Hermann, M. (2011). Hashimoto's thyroiditis affects symptom load and quality of life unrelated to hypothyroidism: a prospective case–control study in women undergoing thyroidectomy for benign goiter. Thyroid, 21(2), 161-167.

Stranges, S., Marshall, J. R., Natarajan, R., Donahue, R. P., Trevisan, M., Combs, G. F., ... & Reid, M. E. (2007). Effects of long-term selenium supplementation on the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 147(4), 217-223.

Thomson, C. D. (2004). Selenium and iodine intakes and status in New Zealand and Australia. British Journal of Nutrition, 91(5), 661-672.

Tinggi, U. (2003). Essentiality and toxicity of selenium and its status in Australia: a review. Toxicology letters, 137(1), 103-110.

Toulis, K. A., Anastasilakis, A. D., Tzellos, T. G., Goulis, D. G., & Kouvelas, D. (2010). Selenium supplementation in the treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a systematic review and a meta-analysis. Thyroid, 20(10), 1163-1173.

van Zuuren, E. J., Albusta, A. Y., Fedorowicz, Z., Carter, B., & Pijl, H. (2014). Selenium supplementation for Hashimoto's thyroiditis: summary of a Cochrane Systematic Review. European thyroid journal, 3(1), 25-31. 

Vrca, V. B., Skreb, F., Cepelak, I., Romic, Z., & Mayer, L. (2004). Supplementation with antioxidants in the treatment of Graves’ disease; the effect on glutathione peroxidase activity and concentration of selenium.Clinica chimica acta, 341(1), 55-63.

Wang, L., Wang, B., Chen, S. R., Hou, X., Wang, X. F., Zhao, S. H., … & Wang, Y. G. (2016). Effect of selenium supplementation on recurrent hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease: a prospective pilot study.Hormone and Metabolic Research, 48(09), 559-564.

Winther, K. H., Wichman, J. E. M., Bonnema, S. J., & Hegedüs, L. (2017). Insufficient documentation for clinical efficacy of selenium supplementation in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocrine, 55(2), 376. doi:10.1007/s12020-016-1098-z

Naomi Chambers
Cherry Ripe Muffins

How do you enjoy the taste of chocolate when you need to be dairy-free & gluten-free for your health?

I wanted to bake an afternoon tea treat for a friend who loves chocolate with a deep passion without all the nasty side effects that milk and butter cause in my body.  

I also didn’t want a lot of fast-release sugar in the treat to ruin the rest of my day.  Sugary snacks leave me tired, cranky and itchy – a hat trick I’m keen to avoid.  And let’s face it if you have any sort of autoimmune issue it might just be helpful to avoid gluten (Visser et al, 2009).

Hmmm so a rich chocolatey taste without butter, flour, fast-sugars nor the hours needed to soak raw cashews?  Challenge accepted!

Googling dairy-free, low GI and chocolate I landed on the ‘WholeFood Simply’ page with this yummy dessert…who doesn’t love a Cherry Ripe?!

Hunting through my fridge and pantry I had all the items excepting cherries.  I decided to use a left over stash of frozen blueberries from a short lived detour into the world of detox shakes instead. OK so it didn’t taste anything like a Cherry Ripe but the mix of chocolate, blueberries and coconut was rich, flavourful and deeply satisfying.

Do I keep calling my recipe Cherry Ripe even though there were no cherries?

So for the lactose intolerant, casein intolerant and milk allergy peeps as well as those who are quitting sugar, going paleo, gluten free, reducing their GI, watching their insulin response here’s a easy to make chocolate muffin that is both healthy and delicious.

Also suitable for autoimmune paleo diet (AIP) followers once they have finished the elimination phase and know they are ok to eat the foods listed.

Cherry Ripe Muffins
Dairy free, gluten free, low GI & paleo


•          1 cup desiccated coconut

•          1 cup coconut cream

•          1 cup almond meal

•          3 tablespoons raw cacao or plain cocoa

•          5 tablespoons of coconut sugar (low GI sugar)

•          2 eggs

•          1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract

•          pinch salt (not iodised if you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder, Hashimoto’s, Graves or hyperthyroidism please)

•          1 cup cherries frozen or fresh is ok. If fresh make sure you remove all the seeds!


1.      Preheat oven to 175C or 350F Grease muffin tin or line with muffin/large cupcake patty cases.

2.      Pour coconut cream into a medium mixing bowl and add desiccated coconut and combine.

3.      Add almond meal and mix.

4.      Add cacao or cocoa and sugar and combine.

5.      Add eggs, vanilla and salt and combine.

6.      Add cherries or whatever berry you have on hand and gently mix

7.      Spoon into prepared muffin pans.

8.      Bake for 35minutes.

9.      Remove from the oven and let cool in tray for 15 minutes before transferring to cooling tray

10.  Don’t be put off by my rather insipid photography these muffins were yummy – eat and enjoy!

What is your favourite healthy sweet treat?

In health,

Sonia x


Visser, J., Rozing, J., Sapone, A., Lammers, K., & Fasano, A. (2009). Tight junctions, intestinal permeability, and autoimmunity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1165(1), 195-205.doi:  10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04037.x

Naomi Chambers