Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid that serves as a building block for new proteins, and is a key signalling chemical for protein synthesis and blood sugar regulation. A study in Nutrition Metabolism, conducted by Columbia University in New York City, found that leucine improved blood sugar control in obese and diabetic mice. The mice were given leucine supplements in their drinking water for 8 months. Leucine stimulates insulin release by the pancreas and promotes the production of the amino acid glutamine, which is important for immune system health. Long-term supplementation of leucine improves the efficiency of insulin metabolism in people with type II diabetes.
Lipoic acid supplements increase the size and number of mitochondria, according to a study from the China Agricultural University in Beijing. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells that provide the body’s energy needs, determine endurance exercise capacity, and greatly influence lifespan. Lipoic acid protects the mitochondria from highly reactive free radicals produced naturally from during metabolism. It also helps to stabilise blood sugar metabolism. Supplementing lipoic acid in aging mice improved energy metabolism and increased cell mitochondria production. It also improved body composition, blood sugar regulation, and increased energy expenditure and fat-free weight (lean mass). Lipoic acid, also known as alpha-lipoic acid, might be an effective anit-aging supplement that promotes metabolic health.
Green tea is a popular weight loss supplement. A controlled study published in the Journal of American College Nutrition, reported that green tea or green tea extract supplements reduced body fat and prevented oxidative cell damage in obese people with the metabolic syndrome (eg. high blood pressure, abdominal fat deposition, insulin resistance, abnormal blood fats). People lost an average of 5.5lb of fat and reduced BMI (Body Mass Index, measure of the proportion of weight to height) by 1.9 points. Green tea (4 cups per day) or green tea extract (2 tablets per day) improved metabolic health in obese people.
Abdominal fat deposition is a sign of poor metabolic heath. It is an important symptom of the Metabolic Syndrome that includes insulin resistance, abnormal blood fats, high blood pressure, any type II diabetes. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that midlife abdominal obesity increased the risk of dementia. CT scans of the abdomen and brains of 733 older adults (average age of 60) showed that those with more abdominal fat had the greatest rates of brain deterioration.
A good measure of obesity is hard to find. Sophisticated measurements such as DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), air displacement, and underwater weighing, are expensive and largely unavailable. Body mass index (BMI; the proportion of weight to height) is the most common measure of fatness, but it is inaccurate in weight-trained athletes. Waist circumference is difficult for most people to measure. Researchers from the University of Michigan found that neck circumference was related to excess body fat and was a reliable predicator of obesity in children. Neck circumference was a good screening tool in children for predicting future adult health problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure.