Friday, December 21, 2012

Science Round-Up Seconds: Follow-Up on Gum Arabic for Fat Loss. DMAA or Schizandra, Which Caused a Stroke in a Young Soldier? Low Doses of Resveratrol Better Than High Ones? Vitamin E Keeps Diabetic Brains Intact.

When it's served like this, Gum Arabic looks more like a healthy snack than a weight loss adjuvant.
I guess everyone who has already listened to the podcast of yesterday's show or was even able to listen live, will have noticed that the audio quality - yet not my German accent - have improved significantly, now that Carl and I did eventually switch to Skype instead of the landline. I know, you have been telling me that all along... be that as it may, unless my Internet connection hangs up for whatever reasons we will continue to do the SuppVersity Science Round-Ups via Skype from now on. Apropos, there will definitely be another show next Thursday (assuming that the world did not collapse by then ;-)

Follow up on Gum Arabic: Dosing & mechanism

In addition to that, I was actually presently surprised how much ground we were able to cover. Allegedly, we have gone way over the scheduled 60min, and I guess I could have said a couple of additional words on the Gum Arabic study and the astonishing fat loss results what I did mention was that it works astonishingly well, what I did not tell you about - or I have forgotten I did (too little caffeine I guess ;-) - is the dosage and the mechanism of action. At least as far as the former is concerned there is no debating that the fat loss magic (-2.1% from ~20% body fat to ~18% in 6 weeks; cf. Babiker. 2012) happened with just 30g of the substance that's derived  from exudates of Acacia senegal or Acacia seyal trees per day. Oher than the diarrhea and bloating, I did already mention on the show, the on average 19-year old perfectly healthy young women in the active arm of the study complained about nausea (82% in the first week) and an  "unfavourable oral viscous sensation" (100% in the first week). The latter is particularly interesting, because it does actually give us a hint on the underyling mechanism which is "not yet fully elucidated, because of a small number of conducted studies" (on its weight loss effects, but could be related to the increase in plasma leptin (without resistance obviously) as well as the increased fatty acid oxidation in muscle tissue in response to viscous fiber ingestion Islam et al. have reported only recently in Obesity (Silver Spring) earlier this year (Islam. 2012). I guess that we are going to see follow up studies on this one pretty soon and you all know that the Science Round Up and of course the SuppVersity news is where you are going to read about them first ;-)

Now that we lost the working weight loss adjuvants behind us, let's get to one which doesn't have any record of helping with weight and was still in each and every fat burner on earth before it was banned: DMAA (1,3 dimethylamylamine) aka geranium oil or geranium extract.

DMAA induced stroke in young soldier!? Or is it maybe the Schizandra that's to blame?

We all know that the job of a soldier is dangerous. A recently published case-report in Military Medicine does yet show that these dangers may not always be due to standing in the line of fire, but can also arise as a consequence of having too much DMAA supplements in your stash (Young. 2012) :
Is schizandra to blame? While the data is in fact scarce and the overall understanding of it's effects would suggest that the TCM herb would rather protect than harm the brain, it is at least worth noting that (a) schizandra has been found enhance the stimulation of the dompaminergic system (Chang. 1991) and (b) that we know that the abuse of cocaine has very similar effects on neurotransmitters (Prakash. 1993) and is associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (Kousik. 2012)
"A 26-year-old male was presented to a military treatment facility in Afghanistan shortly after taking a weight-lifting supplement called Jack3d with a severe headache and was subsequently found to have suffered a Dejerine-Roussy variant right thalamic hemorrhagic stroke. Jack3d active ingredients include geranamine, schizandrol A, caffeine, β-alanine, creatine monohydrate, and L-arginine α-ketoglutarate. A literature search revealed case reports suggesting some of the constituent ingredients may predispose to stroke and hemorrhage and also revealed a substantial paucity of data existed regarding schizandrol A, a herb used in traditional eastern medicine." (Young. 2012)
Now, you always have to take case reports like this with an appropriate amount of skepticism - specifically, when the subject has a personal interest of not disclosing all the "supplements" he may have been taking in order not to lose is job. That being said, you know my take on DMAA from the round-table discussion with Patrick Arnold, Kurtis Frank, and one of the guys from Ergo Log. Bottom line: There really isn't any reason to be pissed of by the ban. Even if it's not to prevent stroke, it will prevent the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome in many aspiring physical culturists.

A re-appreciation of vitamin E and resveratrol

"Regular" vitamin E, i.e. alpha tocopherol, has gotten somewhat of a bad rep as of late and whenever resvertatrol is found to produce any the myriad astonishing health effects scientists have identified, it's either these effects occur either in the petri dish or in a rodent model with (often injected) mega-doses you imply couldn't afford taking on a regular basis. In this regard, a recently published paper which reports profound reductions in the fatty acid synthase, and fatty acid oxidation in the livers and adipose tissue of mice in response to a 0.005% resveratrol enriched high fat chow (this would be ~36mg/day for a human) is yet more than only an exception to the rule (Cho. 2012).
Figure 1: Metabolic effects of high fat diet (HFD) or HFD with two different doses of resveratrol; data expressed relative to mice on a standard diet (Cho. 2012)
I mean, take a look at the effects this low dose had compared to the 4x higher dosing in a second group of mice who received the human equivalent of ~142mg/day (see figure 1). Is this really another instance where more does not only yield no additional benefits, but actually reduces the effect (incidentally, de la Lastra et al. have discussed the pro-antioxidant effects of high doses of resveratrol in 2007 already; cf. de la Lastra. 2007)? Or is this just because "mice are no little human beings" and the results are therefore meaningless for us?

If you believe the latter is the case, I suggest you simply scroll down to the overview of some recent facebook news instead of reading how the adminstration of vitamin E to alloxan-induced diabetic rodents (standard model for type II diabetes) did ameliorate the shrinkage of Purkinje cells and apoptosis of cells in the granular layer, the mitochondrial defects, the splitting  of the myelin sheaths and widening axonal spaces, as well as the decrease in the number of GFAP-positive astrocytes (those that still produce a protein, namely GFAP that's responsible to keep their structure intact) in the cerebellar cortex (Mohammed. 2012)

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That's it for today: You know the holiday season is coming so having too many Seconds isn't a particular good idea these days. If you still need something I suggest you pick one of the easily digestible Facebook news, for example...
  • GI, GL and cancer risk - While there are statistically significant associations, only the ones for the glycemic load, which adds another quality factor namely GI + carbs per 100g to the equation, appear to have real world significance, though (read more)
  • Folic acid in pregnancy - It's not all gold that glitters in ads and carries the letters "RDA". Among the profound epigenetic effects that have been observed in rodent studies, some sound as if they were from a list of the most rampant current pathologies (read more)
  • Adiposity will shrink your brain - Leptin resistance is associated with reduced brain volume, associations persist even when they are corrected for BMI (read more)
You know there is more and there is even more to come. So in case the world does not explode within the next hours you know where to go if you are bored waiting for the "Zombie Repopulation" to happen.
  • Babiker R, Merghani TH, Elmusharaf K, Badi RM, Lang F, Saeed AM. Effects of gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial. Nutr J. 2012 Dec 15;11(1):111. 
  • Cho SJ, Jung UJ, Choi MS. Differential effects of low-dose resveratrol on adiposity and hepatic steatosis in diet-induced obese mice. Br J Nutr. 2012 Dec;108(12):2166-75.
  • de la Lastra CA, Villegas I. Resveratrol as an anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant agent: mechanisms and clinical implications. Biochem Soc Trans. 2007;35:1156–1160.
  • Islam A, Civitarese AE, Hesslink RL, Gallaher DD:  Viscous dietary fiber reduces adiposity and plasma leptin and increases muscle expression  of fat oxidation genes in rats. Obesity (Silver Spring)2012, 20(2):349–355.
  • Kousik SM, Napier TC, Carvey PM. The effects of psychostimulant drugs on blood brain barrier function and neuroinflammation. Front Pharmacol. 2012;3:121.
  • Prakash A, Das G. Cocaine and the nervous system. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol. 1993; 31:575–581.
  • Young C, Oladipo O, Frasier S, Putko R, Chronister S, Marovich M. Hemorrhagic Stroke in Young Healthy Male Following Use of Sports Supplement Jack3d. Military Medicine. December 2012; 177(12): 1450-1454(5).
  • Zhang L, Niu X. [Effects of schizandrol A on monoamine neurotransmitters in the central nervous system]. Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. 1991 Feb;13(1):13-6.