The Ginseng Series - Weight Loss

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We all know that being overweight is not good for your health, but obesity is quickly becoming a major health concern of the UK and other European countries, with the UK set to be the fattest nation in Europe. In 2013 a report revealed that 24.9% of the population were obese and, if it continues at this rate, half of the population will be classed as obese by 2050 [1].

 

There are many risks associated with weight gain or being overweight. Being classed as obese or simply overweight leads to a number of health complications, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and joint problems [2].

 

Ginseng and weight loss

 

Ginseng is a herbal supplement that has been used in Asia for over 2000 years to treat a number of ailments, including weight loss. The most important part of the plant is the root which contains the highest concentration of the active ingredient, ginsenoside, which is responsible for the health benefits.  

One of these many benefits includes weight loss, explained mostly as a secondary result of its many other health benefits.

 

The magical root has strong links to being able to improve glucose homeostasis, the body's ability to regulate the level of sugar in our blood. The regulation of glucose in our blood is a leading cause of diabetes, amongst obesity and insulin resistance [3].

 

One study on mice found that ginseng consumption resulted in decreased weight gain, liver weight and fat tissue mass. This weight loss was linked to increased fat oxidation and accelerated the transport of fat to mitochondria cells where fat is oxidised for energy [4].

 

Another study found similar results that ginseng consumption decreased cholesterol levels, increased activity levels and reduced appetite in obese mice. Energy expenditure was seen to be enhanced by ginseng through thermogenesis, the process of heat production in warm-blooded animals through burning energy [5].

However, the number of human studies to back up research on animals is low. Until the body of research has been able to evidence the link between ginseng and weight loss in humans some caution should be made before generalising the results. Nonetheless, there are many benefits already shown in human studies concerning the consumption of ginseng and the limited downsides easily argue its case as a health supplement.

Ginseng Root

Supplements for weight loss

 

Green tea - packed with antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate, green tea can boost your metabolism. It also helps by inhibiting the break down of hormones responsible for signalling fat cells to break down [6].

 

Capsicum - is the chemical compound found in all chili peppers, the higher the quantity in the pepper the hotter the food will be. A study found that capsicum supplementation of 6mg/d promoted the loss of abdominal fat by increasing fat oxidation [7].

 

Caffeine - is very popular in weight loss supplements, with its ability to target the autonomic nervous system. It increases your heart rate and blood flow to muscles as well as blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, responsible for the feeling of tiredness. It helps keep the weight off by temporarily increasing your metabolism and may aid physical performance [8].

 

There are many ways you can lose weight or avoid weight gain, including the food supplements mentioned above when in combination with regular exercise and a balanced diet. The key to weight loss is simply to consume fewer calories of energy to what your body requires every day; energy deficit will result in healthy weight loss.

 

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