Solely compounds present in avocados will help battle weight problems and forestall diabetes

Professor Paul Spagnuolo. Photo credit: University of Guelph

Your guacamole may be key to treating obesity and delaying or preventing diabetes, according to a new study by a University of Guelph research team.

For the first time, researchers led by Professor Paul Spagnuolo have shown how a compound found only in avocados can inhibit cellular processes that normally lead to diabetes. In human safety tests, the team also found that the substance was absorbed into the bloodstream with no adverse effects on the kidneys, liver or muscles.

The study was recently published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Roughly one in four Canadians is obese, a chronic condition that is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance in diabetics means that their bodies cannot properly remove glucose from the blood.

These complications can occur when mitochondria or the energy powerhouses in the body’s cells are unable to completely burn fatty acids.

Usually greasy acid The body burns fats through oxidation. Obesity or diabetes hinder this process and lead to incomplete oxidation.

The U of G researchers discovered that avocatin B (AvoB), a fat molecule found only in avocados, counteracts incomplete oxidation in skeletal muscle and pancreas to reduce insulin resistance.

In their study, the team fed mice high-fat foods for eight weeks to induce obesity and insulin resistance. For the next five weeks, they added AvoB to the high fat diets of half of the mice.

The treated mice weighed significantly less than those in the control group and showed slower weight gain. More importantly, Spagnuolo said, the treated mice showed greater insulin sensitivity, which meant their bodies were able to absorb and burn blood sugar and improve their response to insulin.

In a human clinical study, AvoB was safely absorbed into their blood as a dietary supplement for participants who were on a typical Western diet without affecting the kidney, liver, or skeletal muscle. The team also saw weight reductions in people, although Spagnuolo said the result was not statistically significant.

After demonstrating its safety in humans, they are planning clinical trials to test the effectiveness of AvoB in treating metabolic disorders in humans.

Spagnuolo said the safety study helped the team determine how much AvoB to include in the supplement formulation.

After receiving Health Canada approval for the compound as a human nutritional supplement, he will begin selling it in powder and pill form starting in 2020 through SP Nutraceuticals Inc., a Burlington, Ontario-based natural health products company.

He said eating avocados alone would likely be ineffective because the amount of natural avocatin B in the fruit varies widely and we still don’t understand exactly how it is digested and absorbed when we consume a whole avocado.

Although avocados have been touted as a weight loss food, Spagnuolo said more studies are needed. He said a healthy diet and exercise are recommended to prevent metabolic disorders that lead to obesity or diabetes.

Ph.D. Student Nawaz Ahmed, lead author of the paper, said, “We advocate healthy eating and exercise as a solution to the problem, but this is difficult for some people. We have known this for decades, and obesity and diabetes are still major health problems. “

In previous work funded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Spagnuolo investigated the potential use of avocatin B to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

Reference: “Avocatin B protects against lipotoxicity and improves insulin sensitivity in the case of diet-related obesity” by Nawaz Ahmed, Matthew Tcheng, Alessia Roma, Michael Buraczynski, Preethi Jayanth, Kevin Rea, Tariq A. Akhtar and Paul A. Spagnuolo, October 14, 2019, Molecular nutrition and food research.
DOI: 10.1002 / mnfr.201900688

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