Getting Rid of Abdominal Fat: Learn How a Hormone May Control Your Fat Switch

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Fat cells in the body produce a hormone called Leptin. Under ordinary circumstance, that is when not complicated by poor diet, over-consumption of sugars, lack of exercise, a generally unhealthy lifestyle and possibly some genetic factors, leptin notifies the hypothalamus when nourishment is adequate, in effect telling the brain no more food is needed at that moment. Leptin also facilitates the body’s use of stored fat.

Can Leptin Supplements Control Appetite?

Researchers who learned about the connection between this hormone and weight levels in the 1990’s thought that giving people leptin for fat loss products might help them control their appetite and in particular help in losing abdominal fat. They were wrong, because as it turned out, obese people already had more leptin than they really needed. What had happened was these individuals already had so much leptin that their body became insensitive to the hormone, thus it no longer performed its intended function. In other words, just like insulin resistance, leptin resistance on the cellular level could develop with undesirable consequences. To make matters worse, it appears that as leptin resistance builds, the hypothalamus starts losing its ability to respond to leptin.

Leptin and Systemic Inflammation

Leptin problems are complicated by the interaction of this hormone with C-reactive protein (CRP) which is well known as a marker of inflammation in the body and increased cardiovascular risks. Some researchers in Pittsburg now have discovered that CRP binds leptin and therefore prevents it from reaching the brain to do its job in signaling the appetite has been sated [1].

While some things can reduce inflammation in the body such as avoiding high-glycemic foods, taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and getting plenty of exercise, if the body is already leptin resistant, these other attempts may not help all that much. What is needed is a way to control or reduce the leptin resistance in the body. Otherwise, losing abdominal fat becomes almost impossible.

Reducing Leptin Resistance

Scientists think that the fruit of a plant—Irvingia gabonensis—found in the Cameroon jungles may have the answer. Research appears to suggest that this plant can lower levels of CRP in the body and hence reduce leptin resistance. A double-blind study involving 102 overweight individuals with abdominal fat used 150 mg capsules of extract from this plant or a placebo twice a day before meals for ten weeks. The treated group had an average weight loss of 28 pounds and their waistlines decreased by an average of 6.7 inches [2]. Further studies identified some mechanisms that appeared to be involved in the process of weight loss and CRP reduction, including an impact on insulin resistance as well [3].

There have been as yet no long-term studies of the Irvingia extract as to side effects. None were noted in the ten-week test. Since the local people in Africa have been eating this for centuries, the supposition is that using it as a supplement on a protracted basis should not be harmful. However, as with any new drug or supplement, further research is warranted.

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References

[1[Chen, K, et al., “Induction of leptin resistance through direct interaction of C-reactive protein with leptin. “Nature Medicine 2006 Apr; 12(4);425-32.

[2] Ngondi, J.L., et al., “The use of Irvingia gabonensis extract (IBOB131) in the management of metabolic syndrome in Cameroon.” 2008 Submitted for Publication.

[3] Ngondi, J.L., et al., “Hypoglycaemic effect of the methanol extract of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on streptozotocin diabetic rates.” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 2006; 3:74-7.