Chilli may help prevent weight gain on high-fat diet
The inclusion of chilli peppers in the diet, even if the diet is a high-fat diet, may help prevent weight gain, according to researchers from the University of Wyoming.
The researchers developed a novel approach to stimulate energy metabolism without the need to restrict calorie intake. The approach, to be presented at the Biophysical Society’s 59th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, held 7 February 2015 to 11 February 2015, has shown that dietary capsaicin, an active component in chilli peppers, may stimulate thermogenesis and energy burning by activating its receptors, which are expressed in white and brown fat cells. This may help to prevent and manage obesity and other related health complications such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. The research has been undertaken in mice and has not yet been demonstrated in carefully-controlled clinical trials.
The researchers said they developed the approach because the temptation to eat fatty foods is often so strong, that for many people, it can override or overpower any dietary restrictions.
“Obesity is caused by an imbalance between calorie intake and energy dissipation,” said Vivek Krishnan, a graduate student working in Baskaran Thyagarajan’s laboratory at the University of Wyoming’s School of Pharmacy — a research group known as Baskilab. “In our bodies, white fat cells store energy and brown fat cells serve as thermogenic (heat produced by burning fat) machinery to burn stored fat. Eating calorie-rich food and a lack of physical activity cause an imbalance in metabolism that leads to obesity,” he said.
Capsaicin suppresses high-fat-diet induced obesity in mice
Mr Krishnan said that while pursuing a strategy for obesity management, the research group’s laboratory data revealed that “dietary capsaicin — a chief ‘agonist’ (initiator of a response) of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel protein — suppresses high-fat-diet-induced obesity”.
The Baskilab group found that high-fat-diet obesity and dietary capsaicin — 0.01 per cent of capsaicin in the total high fat diet — prevented high-fat-diet-induced weight gain in trials with wild type mice, but not in mice that genetically lacked TRPV1.
Further, dietary capsaicin did not modify food or water intake in these mice, “although it did significantly increase the metabolic activity and energy expenditure in wild type mice fed a high-fat diet.
The researchers said their overarching hypothesis is that dietary capsaicin induces browning of white adipose tissue and stimulates thermogenesis to counteract obesity.
Researchers aim to identify mechanism
The researchers said the main goal of their ongoing work was to expand the knowledge of the mechanism by which capsaicin antagonises obesity, as well as to advance the proof of principle of the anti-obesity potential of dietary capsaicin.
Dietary supplement to be developed
The researchers said their longer-term goal was to develop TRPV1 agonists as new drug molecules to prevent and treat obesity. They said that developing a natural dietary supplement as a strategy to combat obesity could be “easily advanced to human clinical trials”.
“We envision a nanoparticle-based sustained-release formulation of capsaicin, which is currently under development in our laboratory,” the researchers said. “In turn, this will advance a novel dietary supplement-based approach to prevent and treat one of the life-threatening diseases, obesity and its associated complications — in humans.”
The group’s strategy to counteract obesity is expected to form a major focus of future healthcare priorities for both the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense. Baskilab has already submitted a patent application for the drug delivery aspect of the discovery.