By Dr. Jerry DeCapua, Two Rivers Tribune Contributing Writer
Researchers have discovered a fat-burning hormone that you already have and use. A hormone released by muscles during exercise transforms white fat cells in the body into brown fat cells. Brown fat cells actually burn fat, even after you have stopped exercising. White fat cells simply store fat.
The hormone, known as Irisin, also appears to help prevent or overcome insulin resistance, a condition that leads to type 2-diabetes. “Irisin travels throughout the body in the blood and alters fat cells,” explains Dr. Anthony Komaroff, editor of the Harvard Health Letter. “If your goal is to lose weight, you want to increase the number of brown fat cells and decrease the white fat cells.”
Babies are born with brown fat, but it was thought that it gradually disappeared. Recent studies are showing that adults still have brown fat cells. Other studies are showing that Irisin transform white fat cells into brown fat cells in mice. When human studies with Irisin are started, it should not be difficult to find any volunteers.
New research from the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that daily helpings of red meat—especially processed red meats like cold cuts and hot dogs—can shorten your life. By replacing your protein with fish, poultry or nuts, you substantially reduce your chance of dying prematurely.
Researchers followed 122,000 men and women and found that those who ate red meat tended to die younger from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The research study compensated for the effects of stress, smoking, being over-weight and unhealthy lifestyle influences.
For each additional 3-ounce serving of red meat, people had a 13 percent increased risk of dying from premature death. The study also reported that those who cut back to half the portion (1.5 ounces) per day could have prevented about one in 10 premature deaths in men. Another statistic of the study was that if someone who has a 50 percent chance of dying in the next 25 years (anyone over 45) replaces one serving of red meat per day with poultry, the risk of dying decreases to 42 percent.
A seaweed-based fiber supplement, taken daily before meals, helped people lose weight. But 20 percent of the subjects dropped out because they could not stand the taste of the seaweed supplement.
The supplement is based on the seaweed extract alginate, a thickening agent and a common ingredient in foods like soups and jellies. Packaged in powder form and mixed with liquid, alginate expands in the stomach or intestines to form a thick gel, mimicking the effect of a large meal. This gel like pudding will last for hours before degrading and disappearing.
Besides tasting like seaweed it may cause bloating as well. “There have been problems in the past to develop something that taste acceptable,” said Dr. Arne Astrup, researcher with the University of Copenhagen. Previous research on seaweed as an appetite suppressant have not panned out until now.
For the study, the researchers randomly divided 96 generally healthy but obese people, aged 20 to 55, into two groups. One group was given packets of the gel supplement, containing 15 grams of fiber alla seaweed, and the other got a seaweed-free placebo drink. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew who was receiving the seaweed supplement. In terms of calories, flavor and appearance, the placebo and treatment were identical. For three months, the participants drank the supplements, dissolved in a cup of water, 30 minutes before each meal.
The research findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Among the people who stuck with the trial, those on the fiber supplement lost 15 pounds. The high sodium content in the alginate product is of concern, due to the effect on blood pressure. The research group is working on another new supplement that has less sodium, tastes better and has fewer side effects.