Latest news from Loughborough University

3 Feb 2015

Loughborough study demonstrates link between gut bacteria, probiotics and insulin sensitivity

Picture credit: Thinkstock

Research by Loughborough University academics has shown that a probiotic drink could be a solution in controlling insulin resistance, a major characteristic of diet-induced diseases such as type II diabetes.

The study, led by Dr Carl Hulston - lecturer in sports nutrition based in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, suggests that the composition of the gut microbiota is an important factor in understanding metabolic disease in humans.

For the study, seventeen healthy individuals were split into two groups. Both maintained their habitual food intake for the first three weeks of the study. One of the groups also consumed two bottles of a probiotic fermented milk drink every day.

During the fourth week, both groups were given a high-fat and high-energy diet. The probiotic intake was continued for the same group during this week.

The main finding of the study was that high-fat overfeeding for seven days decreased insulin sensitivity by approximately 27% within these healthy volunteers. But the group that consumed the probiotic drink preserved their glycaemic control and maintained insulin action.

The results provide further indirect evidence that changes in the gut microbiota are involved in the development of human metabolic disease and, furthermore, that supplementation with a probiotic could help prevent insulin resistance caused by excessive consumption of high-fat foods.

Speaking about the findings, Dr Carl Hulston said:

“We are already aware that excessive consumption of high-fat foods, even for a short period, can lead to the development of metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes.

“Therefore the demonstration by this study that a probiotic has the potential to prevent insulin resistance in humans is a significant breakthrough. This warrants further investigation on a larger scale to support our initial findings.”

The study was supported by industry partners including Yakult UK Limited. The company’s product Yakult Light, containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota was the probiotic used in the study.

Dr Linda Thomas, Science Director at Yakult UK Limited, said:

“These are very interesting findings, demonstrating yet another aspect of the health benefits associated with our strain. We look forward to continuing this research.”

The full report of the study, Probiotic supplement prevents high-fat, overfeeding-induced, insulin resistance in humans, by CJ Hulston et al, can be found on the British Journal of Nutrition website.

Dr Carl Hulston can be contacted directly about this study at:

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR: 15/11

Yakult UK Limited

Yakult was founded by the scientist Dr Shirota, who in the 1930s selected and cultivated the unique Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain of bacteria. Today, every bottle of Yakult contains at least 6.5 billion cells of these bacteria; scientific studies show this strain reaches the intestines alive.

Every day, more than 30 million Yakult products are consumed in 33 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

Media and healthcare professionals can find out about the science behind Yakult by visiting the dedicated healthcare professional site:


Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

Contact for all media enquiries

Rob Knott
PR Officer (Sport)
Marketing and Communications
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686

Additional contact information

Sonya Hayden
PR Manager
Yakult UK
T: 020 8842 7616