Scientists say individuals with potbelly may be able to reduce their belly size by taken Thai ginseng. In a 12-week study, supplementation with Thai ginseng caused a significant reduction in their potbelly in obese individuals in Japan.
In the trial, the belly fat area of those who took the ginseng went down by about 5cm by the end of the study. In comparison, those who did not consume it saw their visceral fat area increased from a centimetre.
The research finding builds on previous studies on how consuming Thai ginseng extract could suppress body weight gain, reduce body fat accumulation, and alleviate glucose intolerance in obese mice.
Thai ginseng, also known as black ginger in layman terms, is cultivated in South East Asia. It is traditionally used as a folk medicine to reduce blood glucose levels, improve blood flow, and increase vitality.
The study had 80 subjects that were randomly assigned to the intervention and placebo group. Their ages were between 20 and 64 and had a body mass index (BMI) equal to or over 23kg m−2 and less than 30kg m−2.
They took either two capsules containing the 6mg of polymethoxyflavones purified from K. parviflora or placebo capsules during dinner. After which, their belly area was measured before the study, on the 8th and 12th week of the study.
Amongst the intervention group, their total fat area was reduced from 320.31 ± 9.74 cm2 to 306.94 ± 10.59 cm2 on week 8 and 309.17 ± 10.67 cm2 on week 12.
The total fat area in the placebo group remained constant throughout the study at 316.47 ± 11.18 cm2 before the study, to 313.77 ± 11.00 cm2 at week 8 and 315.27 ± 11.38 cm2 by week 12. In addition, there was a significant difference in hip circumference between the two groups.
Hip circumference in the intervention group went from 96.50 ± 0.71cm at baseline to 96.58 ± 0.80cm at week 12. In the placebo group, this went from 96.34 ± 0.79cm at baseline to 96.74 ± 0.75 cm at week 12.
The researchers, in the journal, Food and Function, suggested that the intake of Thai ginseng possibly reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation, as indicated by heart rate variability analysis.
While continuous ingestion of polymethoxyflavone purified from Thai ginseng for 12 weeks was considered safe; they, however, said that to effectively assess its safety, longer periods of intake and higher doses are required to be studied.
Meanwhile, dietary supplementation with cocoa can improve obesity and obesity-related comorbidities, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Cocoa powder, derived from Theobroma cacao, is a popular food ingredient that is commonly consumed in chocolate. The ingredient is rich in fibre, iron and phytochemicals which provide positive health benefits such as antioxidant polyphenols and methylxanthines.
Epidemiological and human intervention studies have reported that chocolate is associated with reduced risk of cardiometabolic diseases and laboratory studies suggest dietary supplementation with cocoa or cocoa polyphenols can improve obesity and obesity-related comorbidities, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Using a high-fat-fed, diet-induced model of obesity, the research team supplemented the mice with 80 mg cocoa powder per gram of food for 10 weeks. The cocoa was a commercially available product at a “physiologically achievable dose” —making it possible to duplicate the dosage in humans.
The research team examined changes in fatty liver disease, markers of oxidative stress, antioxidant response and cell damage in high-fat-fed obese mice treated with a diet.
The researchers found that cocoa-treated mice gained weight at a 22 per cent lower rate and had smaller spleen weights than the high-fat-fed control mice. The smaller spleen weights are indicative of less inflammation.
At the end of the study, mice fed the cocoa-powder-supplemented diet had 28 per cent less fat in their livers than the control mice. Cocoa-treated mice also had 57 per cent lower levels of oxidative stress and 75 per cent lower levels of DNA damage in the liver compared to high-fat-fed control mice.