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July 1, 2011

Soluble fiber helps bust belly fat

Soluble fiber helps bust belly fat

In an article published online on June 16, 2011 in the journal Obesity, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina report an association between increased intake of soluble fiber and a reduction in visceral or belly fat which surrounds the body's organs and is considered the most dangerous type of adipose tissue. "We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease," explained lead researcher and Wake Forest assistant professor of internal medicine Kristen Hairston, MD. "Our study found that making a few simple changes can have a big health impact."

Dr Hairston and her colleagues evaluated data from 1,114 African-American and Hispanic participants in the Insulin Resistance and Atherosclerosis (IRAS) Family Study. Physical examinations were conducted, and visceral and subcutaneous fat was measured via computed tomography (CT) upon enrollment and after five years. Dietary intake over the previous year was reported during the five year follow-up visit.

Although consuming more soluble fiber was not associated with the accumulation of less subcutaneous fat, an association with decreased visceral fat accumulation over time was observed. For each 10 gram increase in soluble fiber consumed daily, a 3.7 percent reduction in visceral fat accumulation over the five year follow-up occurred. The study also revealed a 7.4 percent reduction in the rate of visceral fat accumulation when those who were moderately physically active were compared to less active subjects.

"There is mounting evidence that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat, although we still don't know how it works," Dr Hairston stated. "Although the fiber-obesity relationship has been extensively studied, the relationship between fiber and specific fat deposits has not. Our study is valuable because it provides specific information on how dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, may affect weight accumulation through abdominal fat deposits."

Soluble fiber is found in fruit, vegetables, beans and peas, in contrast with insoluble fiber such as wheat bran. Dr Hairston plans to conduct a clinical trial later this year to test whether consuming a soluble fiber supplement elicits a similar benefit as that suggested by the current research.

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Roughly one-third of the American population suffers from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD (Polyzos et al 2010, Schuppan et al 2010, Younossi 2008). Many of its victims don’t know they have it. NAFLD can go undetected for years and may eventually progress to inflammation and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and, in some cases, full-blown liver failure.

NAFLD starts off as a low-level disturbance characterized by dull right upper-quadrant abdominal discomfort and fatigue in most patients, but it is hardly benign (Raszeja-Wyszomirska et al 2008). Early NAFLD can ultimately progress to a more serious condition, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH (Musso et al 2010).

NAFLD and NASH are progressive conditions that require patient collaboration with a qualified physician. Because the liver metabolizes many nutrients and drugs, it is important that liver patients not add any substances to their regimen without cooperation and close monitoring by a qualified physician. The goals of therapy are:

  • Reduce the accumulation of fat in liver tissue by decreasing new fat synthesis and increasing utilization of existing fat stores in the liver.
  • Minimize free radical production, and enhance free radical scavenging in liver tissue
  • Reduce or eliminate the inflammatory responses of fat-infiltrated liver tissue to prevent progression of NAFLD to the more deadly NASH, which is a precursor of liver failure.

The following supplements have been shown to boost liver health and help manage NAFLD:

  • Vitamin E—800 IU daily includes at least 200 mg gamma tochopherol.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids—700 mg EPA and 500 mg DHA daily
  • Metformin—500 mg three times daily
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)—1200 mg daily
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—1200 mg daily
  • Silymarin (milk thistle extract)—900 mg daily
  • Polyenylphosphatidylcholine (PPC)—900 mg daily
  • Trans-resveratrol—500 mg daily

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