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Can These 2 Nutrients Help You Keep the Weight Off?

New research suggests a tasty way to stop the yo-yo dieting cycle and prevent weight regain.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
December 20, 2016
Episode #410

Page 2 of 2

2 Nutrients That Could Make All The Difference

But the researchers uncovered a new piece of the puzzle that could actually be quite useful. It turns out that the intestinal bacteria associated with obesity break down certain flavonoids that we get from our diets faster than lean-associated bacteria do. As a result, obese and previously obese mice have lower levels of these flavonoids in their systems and this reduces the rate at which they oxidize fat.

The enhanced degradation of these flavonoids by gut bacteria could explain—at least in part—why people who have lost weight burn fewer calories than similarly sized people who have never been overweight. Sure enough, when the researchers transferred bacteria from the intestines of lean mice into the intestines of yo-yo dieter mice, the levels of flavonoids in their guts rose, along with their metabolisms.

But there was one more part of the experiment that is even more promising. Instead of transferring bacteria, the researchers tried giving the yo-yo dieter mice more of these flavonoids. And it worked. The level of flavonoids in the gut rose, fat oxidation accelerated, and the mice stayed slim.

Now of course it must be said that these are mice and we are humans. But bacteria are bacteria.  And when you think about it, the real subjects of these experiments aren't mice; it’s the bugs in their intestines. To the extent that something similar happens to the bacteria in our guts when we gain and lose weight, perhaps we can increase our chances of sustaining weight loss by adding more of these particular flavonoids to our diets.

I’m not talking about taking supplements. I’m talking about bumping up our intake of foods that are naturally high in these two compounds. These foods are rich in other nutrients, as well, and low in calories, to boot. What do we have to lose?

Which Foods Might Help Prevent Weight Regain?

The two metabolism-boosting flavonoids identified in this study were apigenin and naringenin, compounds that have been previously identified as having anti-obesity properties.

Naringenin is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables but is especially plentiful in grapefruit, grapefruit juice, tangelos, and kumquats.  Apigenin is also found in small amounts in a wide variety of plant foods but is particularly abundant in chamomile tea and the herb parsley.

Here in the U.S., parsley is used mainly as a seasoning or garnish but in the Middle East, it’s a salad green—and that’s a custom worth adopting. Try adding a few handfuls of fresh parsley to your lettuce mix. Make tabbouleh salad, which combines chopped parsley, bulgur wheat, lemon juice and olive oil. Replace half the basil in your favorite pesto recipe with parsley or chop it up with garlic and vinegar for an Argentinian chimichurri sauce that you can serve with grilled meats. Parsley can also be juiced and combined with other vegetable juices.

Is preventing weight regain and yo-yo dieting really as simple as eating more parsley and grapefruit? Probably not. But while we await further research on this fascinating new finding, eating more of these nutritious foods—along with plenty of other fruits and vegetables—certainly couldn’t hurt. 

Let me know what you think on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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