Is Chitosan A True Fat Blocker?
Before considering any of the studies conducted on chitosan, it is best to know first that whether chitosan is safe or effective as diet aid remains controversial even up to this day. Probably you've heard a lot of claims regarding the benefits of chitosan. Many people have said that chitosan does work, but these claims contradict what few studies imply. Thorough clinical studies on humans have shown that chitosan does NOT work!
One of the most commonly cited studies on chitosan by the marketers and manufacturers of chitosan-based products is the 1994 ARS Medicina (Helsinki) Report. In this study, it was found out that test subjects lost eight percent of body fat and reduced cholesterol by thirty-two percent in four weeks.
Secondly, there are various studies on chitosan which revealed that the substance lowers plasma cholesterol and triglycerides and improved the HDL cholesterol level.
Looking at these pieces of evidence, one might be suitably convinced that chitosan's claims are in fact true. However, when taking the designs of the studies on chitosan into consideration, the evidence appears in a much different light.
In the first place, the 1994 ARS Medicina Report and others that support it appear to be loosely designed. Experts have noted that only uncontrolled and anecdotal evidence seem to be the only available evidence in research up to date.
Furthermore, most of the cholesterol lowering evidences reported in other resources is attained in another noteworthy fashion. The fact is, most of the studies on chitosan were conducted on mice, canines, guinea pigs, and broiler chickens. There is actually a lack of studies on chitosan conducted on humans.
It is most unfortunate that only one well-designed study on chitosan, involving humans as subject, has been published. That study was conducted in 1999 by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showing that chitosan supplements were no better than a placebo in reducing body weight. 34 overweight subjects were actually involved in the study.
They were assigned to either a "treatment group" which received 4 capsules of chitosan twice daily for 28 days, or to a "placebo group" which received a placebo under the same conditions. After days of treatment, the results revealed no significant difference between two groups on any of the body mass index, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, Vitamins A, D, E or beta-carotene levels. This is what actually led weight loss experts to agree that chitosan simply does not work.
Further studies on chitosan were conducted, but all of them, however, have shown that chitosan didn't block fat. As you may notice, these studies on chitosan have the same findings as the European Journal research. And, even worse, chitosan has been shown to block some vitamins and minerals.
Taken into consideration, what the advertisements are saying seem to be media hype, thus the search for a miracle dietary supplement continues.
By Robert Perkis
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