A research team from the University of Iowa looks into ways of managing the negative effects of excess body weight and corroborates the conventional belief that apples, especially unpeeled ones, are good for health.
Obesity is a growing problem in North American, with over one fifth of school-aged children and adolescents classified as overweight, and roughly 35 percent of adults considered clinically obese. Obesity related medical complications account for roughly 10 percent of overall healthcare spending.
Problems associated with increased body weight include type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, numerous cancers and immunological failure. The stark rise of these conditions, in addition to obesity rates themselves, gives cause for growing waistlines to become a growing concern among health care researchers. While other routes of research are already focusing on controlling the obesity problem itself, a team from the University of Iowa is looking into ways that to both defend against complications obesity as well as mediate the negative effects that can arise from excess body weight.
Folk medicine for modern problems
The results of their study were published in June 2012, outlining some suggestions that their research indicated would be beneficial. While folk wisdom has long held the belief that apples are an excellent guard against health problems, this new research confirms what has long been suspected. Apple peels contain a substance that is called ursolic acid. Ursolic acid has been shown, in the past, to increase muscle mass and overall strength in non-obese mice. Researchers’ first inclination was that it would be extremely useful against muscle wasting diseases, rather than obesity.
The study demonstrates that the chemical promotes the conversion of calories into muscle and brown fat. While at first glance, most people might suspect that all fat is bad, particularly for people already afflicted with an excess, brown fat actually feeds on other kinds of fat, making it a valuable asset to weight loss. Exercise converts white fat into brown. Brown fat has also been shown to directly absorb and burn glucose, making it especially valuable to diabetics, who often have difficulty regulating blood sugar levels.
Not all fat is created equal
Both muscle and brown fat are renowned for their consumption of white fat stores as fuel. These implications led researchers to replicate the diseased conditions in mice, and test how the inclusion of ursolic acid in the diet might effect their overall health status. As anticipated, muscle mass was increased, but other more acute changes indicate promise for benefit for obese individuals. The dietary change lowered the amount of glucose circulating in the blood, as well lessen pre-diabetic conditions and the degree of fatty liver disease.
While the increase in muscle was anticipated, the increase in brown fat was not. The increase in brown fat served to amplify the effect of fat burning, and may help to prevent type 2 diabetes. The likelihood of developing diabetes is prominent concern for individuals carrying excess weight.
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