March 31st, 2015

Simply Increasing the Intake of Green Leafy Vegetables Promotes Weight Loss

Introduction:

Lets face it, most Americans are overfed, but undernourished. It is entirely possible that one of the contributing factors to the obesity epidemic is actually a shortage of the various phytochemicals our body utilizes to promote health. Our bodies may have some internal mechanism that senses the lack of the critical nutrition that we humans are designed to receive from plant foods. In early times, when this switch was flicked it simply drove us to gather more food, which meant mainly more plant foods. In modern times, the signal simply results in a quick trip to the refrigerator, pantry, or fast food restaurant.

A new study from Sweden highlights the possibility that effective weight loss may be as simple as increasing the amount of green leafy vegetables in the diet. Green leafy vegetables contain compounds known as thylakoids that trigger satiety signals in humans to help people regulate food intake, prevent weight gain, and promote weight loss.

Background Data:

Human clinical trials have shown greater weight loss from high vegetable intake when part of a reduced calorie, healthy diet with or without behavioral support. Of course, it is important to know what is classified as a vegetable. For example, potato chips and French fries are obviously not classified as a vegetable.

Several mechanisms have been suggested with the most plausible being lower calorie intake and increased feelings of satiety. However, the phytochemical composition is also important, as many plant compounds have been shown to favorably affect enzymes, appetite regulating compounds, insulin sensitivity, and hormones involved in weight control. In addition, eating more vegetables often help shift dietary patterns to healthier cuisine choices.

New Data:

To investigate the impact of green leafy vegetable consumption to reduce subjective hunger and promote satiety signals, 38 women were randomized to dietary supplementation with either spinach extract (5 g) or a placebo, consumed once daily before breakfast for 12 weeks. All individuals were instructed to follow a three-meal plan without any snacking between the meals and to increase their physical activity. Body weight change was analyzed every third week as was blood glucose and various lipid parameters.

The study also measured the blood levels of glucose, insulin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) on day 1 and day 90 after participants ate a standardized breakfast. Researchers also assessed subjective ratings of hunger, satiety and urge for different palatable foods at this time.

Results showed that subjects receiving the spinach extract lost significantly more body weight than did those on placebo (p < 0.01). Mean weight loss with spinach extract was 5.0 kg compared to 3.5 kg in the control group. Consumption of spinach extract also reduced total and LDL-cholesterol (compared to control). It also was shown on day 1 and day 90 that the spinach extract increased after-meal release of GLP-1, and decreased the urge for sweet and chocolate compared to the control group.

These results show quite clearly the weight loss benefits of increased consumption of thylakoids.

Commentary:

Although this study used a spinach extract for thylakoids, eating or juicing more green leafy vegetables would accomplish the same effect. In addition, whey protein as well as the revolutionary dietary fiber matrix PGX have both been shown to produce a significant increase in GLP-1. Studies with a synthetic, injectable form of GLP-1 produced significant weight loss in humans as it makes most people feel full, leading to reduced food intake. These compounds like thylakoids, whey protein, and PGX appear to produce the same effect naturally.

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Reference:

Montelius C, Erlandsson D, Vitija E, et al. Body weight loss, reduced urge for palatable food and increased release of GLP-1 through daily supplementation with green-plant membranes for three months in overweight women. Appetite. 2014 Oct;81:295-304.

Dr. Michael Murray
3/31/15

March 29th, 2015

Unlock Your Fat Burning Genes

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If you are like most people, you probably have a hard time taking the weight off and keeping it off. Maybe you’ve tried several diets that didn’t work, or you found one that did but by now you’ve gained all the weight back and then some.

You’ve probably also experienced that tremendous hunger that comes with dieting that makes it almost impossible to control your appetite.  

But did you know that the reason you feel hungry is the same reason why you can’t seem to lose weight and keep it off?

Join me for my complimentary webinar: “Unlock Your Fat Burning Genes: Keys to Effortless Weight Loss”

During this free webinar you will discover:

  • Why eating less and exercising more does not always help you lose weight
  • How to turn the hunger switch off and gain control of your appetite
  • How your blood sugar control determines your ability to lose weight
  • Why you may be having a hard time sleeping at night
  • How you can keep from experiencing uncontrollable food cravings

This webinar will give you the exact strategies to use to start losing weight naturally.

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March 24th, 2015

Probiotic Supplementation Promotes Weight Loss

ProbioticsSupplements-850x400-850x400Introduction:

Could weight loss be as simple as taking the right probiotic supplement? Based upon a growing body of evidence, the answer is a definite YES!

The term probiotic is used to describe the beneficial bacteria that inhabit the human intestinal tract. The word is derived from Greek and literally means “for life.” Probiotics include not only the freeze-dried bacteria in capsules available at your health food store, but also fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir. Many of these foods rich in probiotics are still of great importance to the diets of most of the people in the world.

A possible link to gut flora and obesity was first discovered by comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals and there were significant differences. That led to studies in animals that found that switching the bacterial flora from the colons between fat and skinny mice would reverse their condition. In other words, when skinny mice were inoculated with the bacteria flora of the fat mice, they became fat mice themselves and vice versa.

There are now a few human studies showing that probiotic supplementation can promote weight loss including a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Background Data:

The gut bacterial flora is affected by several factors including diet, antibiotic use, other drugs, and various environmental factors. In particular, an altered gut flora (dysbiosis) produced by a diet high in fat or low in fiber has been suggested as one of the causes of the development of obesity and the increased risk of developing insulin resistance. But, the relationship between gut flora and obesity looks like it develops very early in life and that may play a role in setting the stage for a lifelong battle against obesity for many people.

A 2011 study conducted at the Turku University Hospital in Finland provides some additional food for thought. In the study, 159 women were randomized to either Lactobacillus rhamnosus (10 billion colony-forming units) or a placebo for four weeks before expected delivery and six months postpartum. The children were followed over their first ten years. It was found that this short-term probiotic supplementation had a protective effect against excessive weight gain over the first years of life.

As to how does gut bacteria influence weight loss, there are several mechanisms that are now well established. Interestingly, they all impact an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase or AMPk for short. The activity of this hormone goes a long way in explaining why some people have no problem maintaining their ideal body weight, while others seemingly fight a major battle to lose weight and keep it off.

Overall, the activity of AMPk plays a major role in determining our body fat composition and especially the amount of visceral “belly” fat that we carry. The most important influencer of AMPk activity ultimately appears to be the sensitivity of the cell to the hormone insulin. Hence, with insulin resistance there is reduced AMPk activity.

Insulin resistance is closely tied to abdominal obesity. As the number and size of fat cells increase, they lead to a reduction in the secretion of compounds that promote insulin action, including a novel protein produced by fat cells known as adiponectin. Making matters even worse is that there is also an increase in the secretion of a substance known as resistin that dampens the effect of insulin.

Adiponectin increases the activation of AMPk, while resistin impairs AMPk activity. So, while adiponectin is associated with improved insulin sensitivity and metabolism, resistin is associated with poor blood sugar control, increased blood lipids, and the development of atherosclerosis. All of these effects are due to the influence these compounds have on AMPk activity. Probiotics appear to help prevent and fight insulin resistance by increasing adiponectin levels and lowering resistin levels which in turn lead to AMPk activation.

New Data:

In a double-blind study conducted in Montreal, Canada, 125 overweight men and women underwent a 12-week weight-loss diet, followed by a 12-week period aimed at maintaining body weight. Throughout the entire study, half the participants took 2 capsules daily providing 3.2 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, while the other half took a placebo.

After the 12-week diet period, the women in the study had an average weight loss of 4.4 kg if they were in the probiotic group and 2.6 kg if in the placebo group. After the 12-week maintenance period, the weight of the women in the placebo group had remained stable but the probiotic group had continued to lose weight, for a total of 5.2 kg per person. So, the math becomes really simple. The women consuming the probiotic supplement lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study. Interestingly, no differences in weight loss were observed among the men in the two groups.

Commentary:

Obviously, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about probiotics as a weight loss aid. In regards to the study reviewed above, why didn’t the probiotic supplement have any effect in the men? My guess is that it had something to do with the type of bacteria used – L. rhamnosus. There are other species of probiotics in addition to L. rhamnosus that are associated with positive effects on weight loss.

My takeaway message from the above study is that the best weight loss probiotic based upon what we know today would be formula that contains multiple strains. That might increase the likelihood of success. However, it is important to note that just because one strain of bacteria in a given species has a proven action does not mean that another strain will as well, even if they are closely related. Actions and qualities are fundamentally strain specific. So, it just makes sense to take a multiple strain formula at this time. The recommended dosage would be of 10-12 billion CFUs daily.

It is also very important when selecting a probiotic supplement to choose a respected brand. Numerous analyses of commercially available probiotic supplements indicate there is a tremendous range of quality. So, choose wisely.

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Reference:

Sanchez M, Darimont C, Drapeau V, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2014 Apr 28;111(8):1507-19.

Dr. Michael Murray
3/24/15