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Seaweed Combats Obesity

Seaweed Combats Obesity

Bread laced with seaweed may one day help us fight off the pounds…

A natural fiber found in seaweed may hold the key to tackling obesity after it was found to reduce fat absorption in the body by up to 75%.

Scientist from the Newcastle University found that the fiber, known as alignate, performed better than most over-the-counter treatments for weight-loss and obesity.

Using an artificial gut, the team led by Dr Iain Brownlee and Prof Jeff Pearson, tested over 60 different types of fibers to measure the effectiveness of fat absorption.

The team is now adding seaweed fiber to bread to try and develop foods that help you lose weight while you eat them.

seaweed fiber may combat obesity Seaweed Combats Obesity

Seaweed Fiber To Combat Obesity

Presenting their findings at the American Chemical Society Spring meeting in San Francisco, Dr Brownlee said the next step was to recruit volunteers to try and reproduce the same results in humans, and to study whether these foods are acceptable in a normal diet:

“The aim of this study was to put these products to the test and our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion…

“This suggests that if we can add the natural fiber to products commonly eaten daily — such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts — up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body…

“We have already added the alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging. Now the next step is to carry out clinical trials to find out how effective they are when eaten as part of a normal diet.”

The research is part of a three year project being funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. It addresses the new regulations set out by the European Food Safety Authority that any health claims made on a food label should be substantiated by scientific evidence.

“There are countless claims about miracle cures for weight loss but only a few cases offer any sound scientific evidence to back up these claims,” explains Dr Brownlee.

Alginates are already commonly used in small amounts in many foods as thickeners and stabilizers, and when added to bread as part of a blind taste test, Dr Brownlee said the alginate bread actually scored higher for texture and richness than a standard white loaf.

“Obesity is an ever-growing problem and many people find it difficult to stick to diet and exercise plans in order to lose weight…

“Alginates not only have great potential for weight management — adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fiber content.”

What is a dietary fiber?

There is still a lot of confusion regarding dietary fiber, which is scientifically classified as a “group of carbohydrates of plant origin that escape digestion by the human gut.” Dr explained:

“I think most people would describe it as roughage — the bit of your food that keeps you regular and is vital for a healthy gut…

“Both of these facts are true but the notion that all fiber is the same and that it simply goes through your system without having an effect is wrong.”

Fibrer is made up of a wide range of different molecules called polysaccharides and although it is not digested by the human gut, it both directly and indirectly affects a number of bodily processes.

Dr Brownlee adds: “These initial findings suggest alginates could offer a very real solution in the battle against obesity.”


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