Saturday, October 19, 2013

Can garlic help you lose body fat? By Jerry Brainum

With all the exotic ingredients used in many of the current fat-loss supplements, it's easy to overlook some common ingredients that may be even more effective than the fancy stuff thrown into the list of "proprietary" ingredients on the labels of top-selling weight-loss products. A good example of this is garlic. The health advantages of garlic are enormous.Studies have shown that sulfur compounds found in the "stinking rose" appear to offer preventive effects against the onset of the two major killers: cardiovascular disease and cancer. In fact, one way that garlic compounds accomplish this is by upgrading the synthesis of nitric oxide in the body. But that is another story. Let's focus on how garlic can be used to help shed excess body fat.
    In a recent study that used mice as subjects, the effects of garlic to prevent the onset of obesity in the rodents was tested. The study involved a type of mouse bred to mimic human obesity. These mice were fed a 45% high fat diet for two months to induce obesity. They then continued on the high fat diet, but the diet was supplemented with either 2% or 5% garlic for another seven weeks.Consuming the garlic reduced the weight of the mice, but more importantly it also lowered the fat stores of the rodents, despite the high fat intake.Garlic also lowered the fat content in the blood and in the liver of the mice.Further investigation revealed that garlic had altered genes involved in body fat synthesis. Not only that, but garlic increased the activity of thermogenic proteins called uncoupling proteins that convert calories into heat in the liver, muscles, and body fat. Garlic also upgraded the activity of a protein called AMPK, which acts as an energy sensor in the body. When AMPK is stimulated,fat oxidation is increased in muscle.
      There are two obvious problems with the findings of this study. The first is that the study involved mice. Much of the thermogenic activity in the mice occurred in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Unfortunately, BAT is not as active in humans as it is in mice, although recent evidence suggests that it may be more active in some people than it is in others. Those with active BAT are people who seem to be able to eat whatever they want to, yet never get fat. In contrast,. those who get fat easily usually show a deficient thermogenic response, as in no BAT activity. The whole idea behind most fat-loss supplements is to boost thermogenic activity, not by increasing BAT, but rather by boosting the output of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which promote release of stored fat in fat cells. The other problem with the study was the level of garlic intake. Most people do not consume 2-5% of their diets as garlic. However, those who habitually eat a "Mediterranean" style diet probably do either match or approach this level of garlic intake. It's no coincidence that those who do eat in  this manner are rarely obese.
Soon-Lee, M, et al. Reduction of body weight by dietary garlic is associated with an increase of uncoupling protein mRNA expression and activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in diet-induced obese mice.J Nutr 2011:141:1947-53

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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