An excess of bacteria in the gut can change the way the liver processes fat and could lead to the development of metabolic syndrome, according to health researchers.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and excess body fat around the waist. People experiencing three or more of these conditions are considered to have metabolic syndrome and are vulnerable to liver and heart diseases. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of adult Americans have the syndrome, according to the American Heart Association.
Research supported by the National Institutes of Health has recommended that Americans add more fiber to their diets because higher fiber diets have been found to improve many aspects of health. However in a certain segment of the population, this advice could be doing more harm than good.
Publishing in the journal Chemistry and Biology, the researchers found that activating AMPK with compound 14 led to a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and, at the same time, promoted weight loss in obese mice.
When mice with a normal diet were treated with compound 14, their blood glucose levels and weight remained normal.
In obese mice on the high-fat diet a single dose of compound 14 resulted in lowering their elevated blood glucose close to near normal levels.
A daily dose of compound 14 administered for seven days to the obese mice resulted in improved glucose tolerance and 1.5 grams weight loss.
A new discovery from researchers at McMaster University could be a major breakthrough in battling obesity and diabetes.
The team is hoping its discovery can lead to a pill or patch that would turn up the body’s “metabolic furnace” and burn more calories, said Gregory Steinberg, professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote school of medicine.
Their findings were published Monday in Nature Medicine. The study details how the Mac researchers identified an important hormone that is elevated in obese people and contributes to obesity and diabetes by inhibiting brown fat activity.
Brown adipose tissue, widely known as brown fat, is located around the collarbone and acts as the body’s furnace to burn calories. Obese people have less of it. McMaster researchers have discovered that a lesser known peripheral serotonin that circulates in the blood reduces brown fat activity or “dials down” the body’s metabolism.
Steinberg, the paper’s co-author and also co-director of MAC-Obesity, the Metabolism and Childhood Obesity Research Program at McMaster, said the “results are quite striking.”
Steinberg said tests on mice showed a 25 per cent drop in body weight, without any change in diet or increased exercise. It may be the closest thing to a magic weight loss pill yet found. He said at first the results “seemed too good to be true.”
“We are very excited,” he said. “By reducing the production of this serotonin, it increases your metabolism.”
Steinberg said the serotonin “acts like the parking brake on your brown fat” and slows down metabolism.