~ 052909 Powerful Weight-Loss Extract Irvingia Introduced at Functional Foods Conference

Dave Tuttle

Nutritional scientists from around the globe met to share new research findings at the fifth annual Functional Foods for Chronic Disease conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in October. The participants covered a wide variety of topics, including functional food components that assist with obesity-enhanced colon cancer, the use of amaranth oil for diabetic patients with obesity, and how broccoli protects the heart.

The highlight of the conference was the startling presentation by Dr. Julius Oben, who has participated in more than 50 studies in the field of weight loss. The Head of the Laboratory of Nutrition and Nutritional Biochemistry at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, he revealed the latest clinical evidence on a recently developed extract from the seed of the Irvingia gabonensis fruit, also known as bush mango and ogbono, which grows in Cameroon and neighboring regions of Nigeria. Dr. Oben was performing epidemiological studies in African tribal populations when he noted that people in a certain region had low incidences of obesity, diabetes, and related diseases. Exploring further, he found that they use irvingia paste to thicken soups an average of ten times per week. This led to the development of a concentrated extract that stimulates fat loss while promoting healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Leptin is a hormone that inhibits food intake in people of normal body weight by reducing the hunger signals from the brain. However, obese individuals often produce so much leptin that their cells become resistant to it. A patented irvingia extract was shown to improve leptin sensitivity, so the test subjects felt less hunger and ate less. The extract was also shown to increase the levels of adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that promotes insulin sensitivity. When more blood sugar makes its way inside the working cells, less is delivered to the fat cells for storage. Adiponectin has anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits as well.

Dr. Oben discussed the results of a 10-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 102 volunteers who were instructed to maintain their same diet and exercise patterns. They took 150 mg of a second-generation irvingia extract twice daily. In 10 weeks, the group using irvingia lost 28 pounds of body weight, while the placebo group lost only 1.5 pounds. The participants using irvingia also saw a 31% reduction in fasting blood glucose, a 26% drop in total cholesterol, and a 27% decline in low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Equally important were the findings that irvingia lowered C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) by a stunning 52%, while adiponectin levels increased 160% and leptin concentrations dropped nearly in half (48%).

Other presentations added to our knowledge of functional foods. Subhendu Mukherjee from the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine showed how the enzyme thioredoxin reductase plays a crucial role in broccoli’s cardio-protective benefits, while Dr. Jairam Vanamala from Colorado State University astonished the audience with his finding that one pound of charred meat fat contains as many carcinogens as 600 cigarettes. Amaranth oil was found to promote dramatic reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, although the current cost of the oil exceeds that of many medicines.

The Functional Foods Center holds this conference every fall to promote cooperation among scientists and to spearhead research in this fast-growing area of scientific study.

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