Eat Fast Food and Fight Diabetes?
April 02, 2005
People may soon have another excuse to eat fast food: U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers have found that adding a compound called HPMC to high-fat foods may limit the damage they do to your health, including lowering your risk of diabetes.
When added to fatty foods, HPMC, a form of soluble cellulose already used in many foods and drugs to provide texture, slowed down the rate of fat absorption, which animal tests have shown could cut the risk of insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes).
In the four-week study, hamsters were fed diets containing comparable amounts of fat to those in a typical American fast food diet, and the hamsters developed insulin resistance. Another group of hamsters were fed a similar high-fat diet that had HPMC substituted for the insoluble fiber normally in fatty foods. These hamsters showed no signs of developing insulin resistance.
HPMC appears to work by slowing down the absorption of fats, which prevents the fats from overwhelming the digestive system, and by controlling the way fat is transported to the adipose tissue, where it's typically stored.
When too many fats are eaten, they enter the body too quickly and may be moved to non-adipose tissues like the liver, heart and pancreas for storage. This can cause damage to cells; for instance pancreatic damage can lead to diabetes.
Researchers are hopeful the compound will be useful as a "functional food" ingredient that could reduce the risk of diabetes; though they say it's unlikely the compound will also prevent obesity or counteract all the negative effects of a high-fat diet.
BBC News March 16, 2005