New obesity weapon to be tested
Dr Raylene Reimer and her colleagues at the University of Calgary in Alberta have uncovered evidence that a natural fiber known as oligofructose, a type of fructooligosaccharide (FOS), may help reduce overeating and improve blood lipids. Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotic fibers available as a dietary supplement.
"It's not a chemical or a drug,” Dr Reimer explained. “In fact it's a food product that is already being used in things like yogurt, cereal and baby food. We have found in a previous study with rats that the fiber increases the levels of a satiety hormone called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) in the body and increases a gene in the intestines that helps the body to create more GLP-1."
Dr Reimer, who is a member of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Kinesiology, and colleagues are launching the first human trials of the fiber on the basis of research under consideration for approval in a peer-reviewed journal. Reimer and University of Calgary doctorate student Jill Parnell found that lean and genetically obese rats given diets enhanced with oligofructose and inulin (another FOS) for eight weeks greatly lowered their food intake and experienced improved blood lipid profiles. They concluded that “prebiotic fiber supplementation could be used as a dietary treatment for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
"It may not be the magic bullet, but in all likelihood this will likely be one factor that people can change in their life to help achieve a healthy body weight,” Dr Reimer commented. “It won't cure obesity or cause people to drop half their body weight -- not even our strongest obesity drugs can do that -- but we believe it could help."
The clinical trial will enroll 50 overweight but healthy individuals residing in Calgary who will consume a supplement for three months without making other lifestyle changes.
"What we have found so far in our animal studies has been very encouraging," Dr Reimer stated. "Another short study done by some Belgian researchers also indicates that the fiber will work for people, but we really won't know until we complete this detailed, long-term study."
When it comes to weight loss, fiber has not received the attention it deserves. The recent focus on carbohydrates has led some people to reduce their intake of whole fruits and some vegetables because these foods contain carbohydrates. By doing this, those dieters deprive themselves of the many benefits of a naturally fiber-rich food source. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Americans should consume about 30 g or more of fiber every day. The actual average consumption, however, is between 12 and 17 g (AHA 2005; NCI 2005).
Consumed before a meal, soluble fiber has multiple benefits. First, it is filling and causes people to eat less because they are satiated sooner. Anecdotally, Life Extension has received reports that some people can actually cut the size of their meals in half by consuming a glass of soluble fiber mix before eating.
One of the most modifiable of risk factors for obesity is physical inactivity (Grundy et al 1999). In unveiling new health objectives, the US government dramatically increased target exercise goals. To maintain a healthy weight, the NIH now recommends that adults engage in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. For weight loss, or for people who have recently lost weight and want to keep it off, the recommendation is between 60 and 90 minutes of exercise most days of the week (MMWR 2002). Consult your physician before embarking on any exercise program.
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