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Will Brown Seaweed Fight Obesity?

September 26, 2006 | 15,786 views

Brown seaweed, which is used for flavor in many Asian dishes, contains a compound that may reduce the accumulation of fat, which could help aid weight loss.

The compound, called fucoxanthin, is a brownish pigment that helps with brown seaweed's photosynthesis process. It is not found in significant amounts in other kinds of edible seaweed, such as green or red seaweed.

Fucoxanthin led to a 5 percent to 10 percent reduction in the weight of test animals, and could be developed into an obesity-fighting drug or supplement. The compound targets abdominal fat in particular.

A study of more than 200 rats and mice showed that fucoxanthin appears to fight fat through two different mechanisms. First, it stimulates a protein call UCP1, which causes fat oxidation. The protein is particularly abundant in the abdominal area, which is why the compound might be especially effective at reducing abdominal fat.

Fucoxanthin also causes the liver to produce DHA, a type of omega-3 fat that reduces LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which is known to contribute to obesity and heart disease.

However, because the fucoxanthin is tightly bound to the protein in the seaweeds, it is poorly absorbed by the body when whole seaweed is consumed. An extract could yield stronger results.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Perhaps this in part explains why Asians eating traditional diets seem to have no challenge with the battle of the bulge. It looks like brown seaweed, such as the kind used in traditional miso soup, is a natural weight-loss aid.

This fucoxanthin could be another good way to get more critical omega-3 fats into your diet, which is essential not just for maintaining your ideal weight, but for your brain function and your general health as well.

However, it may be up to five years before somebody develops an effective, natural fucoxanthin extract, if one can be made at all. You needn't wait till then as although the extract might be helpful, you can get the benefits by eating the whole unprocessed food.

Typically, this strategy is far wiser as there is a tremendous synergy that occurs when you eat food in its natural unprocessed state -- one that simply cannot possibly occur when you consume food in a refined processed state.

Other strategies to get your weight under control naturally, safely and effectively include following these simple steps:

1.      Reduce (with the idea of eventually eliminating) your intake of grains and sugars. The body's storage capacity for carbohydrates is quite limited, so when you eat an excess of grains and sugars they are converted, via insulin, into fat.

2.      Begin to modify your diet according to your body's unique nutritional type. This is the best way to start improving your diet and learn more about the right kind of foods you should eat. What may be healthy for others is not necessarily healthy for you and vice-versa. That's why eating according to your type is the proven way to ascertain which foods work best for you.

3.      Get moving on an exercise program. There is no shortage of literature documenting the major benefits exercise has on improving one's health and lowering the risk of diseases. Determine the proper dosage of exercise you need and start moving today.

4.      Improve your emotional health and well-being. It doesn't matter how devoted you are to a proper diet and lifestyle, emotional health is absolutely essential to your physical health and healing. That is why I suggest adopting the concept of my psychology tool the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is an energy psychology tool that uses acupressure techniques that can help you to channel your stress-related thoughts and leave you feeling calmer and more able to face your challenges.

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