A popular citrus fruit could help peel back fat and diabetes risk

My colleagues and I have written a lot lately about the dangers of obesity. And with good reason!

Since the year 2000, the percentage of Americans who are obese has been rising steadily. According to the National Institutes of Health, a person is obese who weighs 30 pounds or more above their ideal weight.

Health experts are now talking about the “obesity epidemic,” and, as with any epidemic, this raises grave concerns.

It’s beyond question at this point that being obese is the gateway to other dire health consequences. In fact, being obese is now considered to be a form of premature aging.

Hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes are directly linked to obesity. And being obese is now viewed as a predictor of at least a dozen types of cancer.

Research is ongoing into how we can stem the tide of obesity-related deaths. This includes looking at healthy ways to help individuals control their weight, as well as new discoveries that will help prevent deaths from diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related conditions.

Now, a molecule in one of our favorite fruits is being studied for its apparent ability to reverse the negative side-effects of obesity.

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Nobiletin: A flavonoid in oranges that fights fat

For almost a decade, Dr. Murray Huff of the Schulich School of Medicine at Western University in London, Ontario, has been studying a natural flavonoid known as nobiletin.

Found in the peel and juice of sweet oranges and tangerines, nobiletin may hold the key to easier and more effective treatment of diabetes and obesity.

In 2011, Dr. Huff and another group of scientists found that nobiletin regulated fat metabolism in the livers of mice, and prevented insulin resistance. It also reversed fatty liver disease and lowered both cholesterol and sugar in the blood.

In the current study, also with mice as subjects, Dr. Huff and his team are trying to pinpoint the mechanisms behind nobiletin’s beneficial effects.

At first, they hypothesized that nobiletin was acting on an enzyme called adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, or AMP-kinase, which turns on the body’s fat-burning machinery and blocks the manufacture of fats.

However, when they studied mice that had been genetically modified to remove AMP-kinase, they found that the beneficial results were the same.

This was proof that nobiletin would not interfere with diabetes medications like metformin, which do act on the AMP-kinase system.

Dr. Huff’s next step will be to study the action of nobiletin in humans, to determine if it has the same positive health effects that it does in mice.

Obesity is a preventable death sentence

The good news is that it’s entirely possible to keep from becoming an obesity statistic.

Even if obesity is in your genes, certain forms of exercise have been proven stronger than any inherited tendency toward overweight.

Sleep is another factor that can help or hurt when it comes to obesity. Just last month, a team of Columbia University scientists found that women who are sleep-deprived consume more calories and are at higher risk for obesity and heart disease.

And, of course, your food choices will be the key to maintaining a healthy weight. The flavonoids in certain fruits and vegetables help you shed those unwanted pounds … and keep them off!

If you’re looking to follow a particular diet to achieve weight loss, you can’t do better than the Mediterranean diet. More than a diet, it can become a sustainable eating style that will satisfy your desire for variety, flavor, and even the occasional sweet treat!

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  1. The citrus flavonoid nobiletin confers protection from metabolic dysregulation in high-fat-fed mice independent of AMPKJournal of Lipid Research
  2. Molecule found in oranges could reduce obesity and prevent heart disease and diabetes — EurekAlert
  3. Adult Obesity Facts — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  4. Nobiletin Attenuates VLDL Overproduction, Dyslipidemia, and Atherosclerosis in Mice With Diet-Induced Insulin ResistanceDiabetes
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.