Genistein promotes weight loss in "menopausal" mice
A study published in the February 2006 Journal of Nutrition found that the soy isoflavone genistein decreased food intake, body weight and fat pad weight in female mice whose ovaries had been removed to mimic the postmenopausal state. Postmenopausal women and ovariectomized mice experience weight gain, and estrogen replacement has been shown to help reverse this phenomenon, however, estrogen replacement has been found to be associated with a number of risks and side effects.
University of Georgia researchers gave mice diets containing 0, 150 or 1500 milligrams per kilogram genistein for three weeks, after which the body composition and fat pads of the mice were analyzed. Mice who received the diet providing the highest dose of genistein were found to have experienced an average body weight reduction of 9 percent, a 22 percent decrease in parametrial fat pad weight and a 19 percent reduction in inguinal fat pad weight compared to the control animals. Additionally, food intake was reduced by 14 percent in this group, and apoptosis (programmed cell death) of inguinal fat was determined to have increased by 290 percent compared to the control group.
In a separate experiment, increasing doses of genistein were administered to adipose tissue cultures, which were found to undergo an increase in apoptosis proportional to the dose of genistein received. The authors remark that "this is the first paper to demonstrate that apoptosis may be a contributor to genistein's reducing effect on body weight." They note that serum genistein levels in mice fed 1500 milligrams per kilogram were within the range encountered in humans under various nutritional conditions, for example, among those consuming soy based meals. They add that soy supplements make it possible to consume levels of genistein that are several times greater than those obtained with a high soy diet. The authors conclude that "genistein may be useful in treating or preventing increased adiposity after menopause."
It is clear that excess weight has a dramatic impact on one's health. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths (tobacco being first). Overweight and obesity are known risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and some forms of cancer (uterine, breast, colorectal, kidney, prostate, pancreatic, and gallbladder).
Obesity is associated with stress, incontinence, complications of pregnancy, menstrual irregularities, excess facial hair, increased surgical risk, and psychological disorders such as depression. Epidemiological evidence supports popular belief that the BMI associated with the lowest mortality falls within the range of 18.5-24.9, i.e., thinner people live much longer (Baird 1994; Stevens 2000).
A review of published studies on the effects of dietary fiber on hunger, satiety, energy intake, and body composition in healthy individuals found that under conditions of fixed energy intake, the majority of reports indicate that an increase in either soluble or insoluble fiber intake increases post-meal satiety (sensation of fullness) and decreases subsequent hunger. When energy intake is not restricted, mean values from published studies indicate that consumption of an additional 14 grams per day of fiber for more than 2 days is associated with a 10% decrease in energy intake and body weight loss of 1.9 kg over 3.8 months. The observed changes in energy intake and body weight occur both when the fiber is from naturally high-fiber foods and when it is from a fiber supplement. The authors concluded that increasing dietary fiber intake to at least the minimum recommended by the American Heart Association (25-30 grams per day) may help to decrease the currently high national prevalence of obesity (Howarth et al. 2001).
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