The 1 Spice That Strips Away Belly Fat? (not Turmeric)
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
Could you imagine seeing the headline: “Nature’s antibiotic is the latest nutrient in the battle on obesity.” This would send the media into a frenzy, and practically put garlic growers on pace to become multi-millionaires, or even billionaires.
Of course, I wouldn’t go that far!
But the headline above is true! Garlic has wonderful effects in the body, from heart disease and blood pressure to cholesterol. Imagine if those same nutrients which help the heart, can actually help us lose fat! How would that information affect you? Would you run out and buy garlic, just to see if you could lose a pound or two?
Most people looking to lose weight would answer with a resounding yes! How does it work? Let me explain.
Garlic has cancer-fighting, heart disease-fighting and blood pressure-lowering properties built into it. We can now add obesity-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties!
Obesity, along with heart disease and a host of other diseases, start by an inflammation response. Adipocytes are no different.
This chronic, low-level inflammation leads to fat cells impairment. Inflammation leads to the release of macrophages, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and proteins which are released from adipose tissue. Certain properties found in garlic can reduce these militants from being released from fat cells.
Allyl isothiocyanate, a major component of garlic, inhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity effects. In obesity, adipose tissue releases macrophages, fatty acids, and other proteins, causing increased inflammation leading to other obesity-related complications. The problem with obesity is the higher the obesity levels, the more macrophages are released, causing other metabolic conditions to arise.
Allyl isothiocyanate is a phytochemical which inhibits cellular production of major pro-inflammatory mediators. Those mediators are:
• TNF-α - a major cytokine involved in systematic inflammation. Higher levels lead to insulin resistance in the body.
• Nitric oxide - produced by phagocytes from an immune response, can also be signaled from the production of TNF-α in the body. Nitric oxide can increase inflammation in response to certain conditions.
• MCP-1 - a protein which recruits monocytes to areas of inflammation. Commonly found in Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is found in joints and other areas of the body. High levels of MCP-1 perpetuates the inflammation process in joints and adipose tissue.
Allyl isothiocyanate can inhibit the production of these inflammatory hormones. It works exceptionally well in inhibiting MCP-1 protein found in 3T3-LI adipocytes. Of course you are probably wondering what it means, right? Give me a minute to explain.
The body is able create new cells. In fact, every minute cells die and the body makes new ones to replace them. In adipose tissue, pre-adipocytes undergo a process making them full-fledged adipose tissue, or FAT. Research shows garlic can inhibit adipogenesis, or the process of making pre-adipocytes into adipocytes. Simple terms: garlic stops pre-fat cells from becoming fat cells, by inhibiting the process.
This same research also showed garlic can increase activation of brown adipose tissue, therefore increasing thermogenesis in brown fat cells. The research behind it is amazing!
Researchers took mice and fed them a high-fat diet for the purpose of increasing obesity in the mice. Then they fed them the same diet, but added 2% or 5% garlic extract mixed with the food. The group supplemented by garlic decreased body weight and certain adipose tissue deposits. You would expect a high-fat diet to increase fat in the blood and plasma. When implementing garlic in the high-fat diet, there was significant improvements in blood and plasma fat levels. Garlic reduced blood and plasma fat levels.
The mice also had increased activity in brown adipose tissue. Brown fat increases thermogenesis in the body. By breaking down fatty acids, the breakdown increases energy and spares the use of ATP. In garlic-fed mice, there was an increase in activation of uncoupling protein 1 in the brown fat cells. This happened in the liver, white adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle, and not just in brown fat. Result: increased body temperature when exposed to cold temperatures.
It was determined the activation of AMPK, an enzyme responsible for cellular energy thermogenesis, increased therefore increasing thermongenesis in brown fat tissue. They also found a decrease in the expression of adipogenesis, or the development of pre tissue into full-fat tissue.
Garlic is a potent nutrient used in cooking in many cultures as a way to spice up food and increase the taste. Most people know that garlic has powerful effects on the cardiovascular system by reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, reducing triglycerides and helping raise good cholesterol.
Most people are unaware that garlic has anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Garlic can reduce the amount of cytokines and macrophages released by fat tissue, which affect fat tissue and distant areas in the body. More research is needed on the power of garlic, but it shows promise in the fight against obesity!
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Keophiphath, M. Priem, F. Jacquemind-Collet, I. Clement, K. Lacasa, D. 1,2-vinyldithiin from garlic inhibits differentiation and inflammation of human preadipocytes. J Nutr. 2009. Vol. 139(11);pp.2055-2060.
Lee, MS. Kim, JH. Kim, CT. Kim, Y. Reduction of Body Weight by Dietary Garlic Is Associated with an Increase of Uncoupling Protein mRNA Expression and Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase in Diet Induced Obese Mice. J Nutr. 2011.
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Oi, Y. Kawada, T. Shishido, C. Wada, K. Kominato, Y. Nishimura, S. Ariga, T. Iwai, K. Allyl-containing sulfides in garlic increase uncoupling protein content in brown adipose tissue and noradrenaline and adrenaline secretion in rats. J Nutr. 1999. Vol. 129(2);pp. 336-342