WHAT EXACTLY IS CHITOSAN?
It is a natural product derived from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeleton of shellfish like shrimp or crabs. Technically speaking it is a naturally occurring substance that is chemically similar to cellulose. Like plant fibers, Chitosan possesses many of the same properties as fiber, however unlike plant fiber, it has the ability to significantly bind fat, acting like a "fat sponge" in the digestive tract. The process of synthesizing involves taking the shells of shrimp or crabs, grinding them to a fine powder and then deacetylating this powder to remove specific chemical groups so that the remaining compound is more active in its ability to soak up fats. Like some plant fibers, Chitosan is not digestible, therefore it has no caloric value. This and the fat binding property are what make it attractive for weight control.
EXTENSIVE MEDICAL RESEARCH HAS PROVEN CHITOSAN TO BE EXTREMELY SAFE WITH NO TOXICITY
"Chitosan has been approved as a food additive in certain developed countries. Several toxicological studies have been shown it to be nontoxic." (Hwang, D. Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 1995. 43(1): 33-37.)
MEDICAL RESEARCH ON THE BENEFITS OF CHITOSAN
"The human studies show real and useful weight loss." "Weight loss is the most dramatic result from Helsinki Chitosan clinical pilot study. The subjects [who took Chitosan in the Helsinki weight loss program] lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight in a 4 week period." (J. Abelin, A. Lassus, Fat Binder as a Weight Reducer in Patients with Moderate Obesity, ARS Medicina, Helsinki, Aug-Oct, 1994.) For example, someone participating in this study weighing 200 pounds who lost the average 8% of his or her body weight would have lost 16 pounds in just one month. That's 4 pounds per week.
"Chitosan has potency for interfering with fat digestion and absorption in the intestinal tract, and for facilitating the excretion of dietary fat into the feces." Chitosan markedly increased the fecal lipid excretion and reduced the apparent fat digestibility to about a half relative to the controls." (Deuchi, K. Applied Research Center, Research and Development. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 1994. 58(9):1613-1616.)
"Chitosan has the very unique ability to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) while boosting HDL cholesterol (the good kind)." "Japanese researchers have concluded that Chitosan 'appears to be an effective hypocholesterolemic [cholesterol lowering] agent.' In other words, it can effectively lower blood serum cholesterol levels with no apparent side effects. A study reported in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that Chitosan is as effective in mammals as cholestryramine (a cholesterol lowering drug) in controlling blood serum cholesterol without the deleterious side effects typical of cholestryramine." (Hennen W. Chitosan. Woodland Publishing. 1996. 15.)
"The most recent clinical tests on human subjects confirmed animal studies that have shown for years a reduction in intestinal fat in laboratory animals." (Nauss J.L., Thompson J.L. The Binding of Micellar Lipids to Chitosan.. Lipids 18 (10). 1983. 714-719.)
CHITOSAN, HEART DISEASE, AND STROKES
Chitosan has the very unique ability to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) while raising HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Chitosan is also effective in lowering blood serum cholesterol. Virtually all medical professionals agree that lowering LDL cholesterol, boosting HDL cholesterol, and lowering blood serum cholesterol levels can greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a stroke or heart disease - America's number one killer.
CHITOSAN AND COLON CANCER
Chitosan is a natural, effective dietary fiber, which helps the body maintain healthy digestion and elimination functions. Medical research has shown that people who consume high levels of dietary fiber can greatly reduce their risk of becoming a victim of colon cancer, an extremely painful and often fatal disease.
A DOCTOR'S CONCLUSION ABOUT CHITOSAN
Here is an excerpt from the book Chitosan written by scientist, Dr. William J. Hennen, Woodland Publishing, 1996.
1. Chitosan Provides a Realistic Approach to Fat and Fiber Intake. Low-fat, high fiber advocates have recommended a diet that is calorically fueled between 10 and 20 percent fat and includes 35 to 45 grams of fiber. Unfortunately, most of us, no matter how good our intentions are, will not be able to sustain this type of diet. Therefore, if we are going to face facts, a diet that reduces fats to 20-30 percent of the total calor ic value and increases fiber to 20-30 grams/day is much more realistic and will help significantly in controlling weight, avoiding artery disease and promoting good colon health. Taking Chitosan prior to eating a meal can make dietary fat goals much more attainable while promoting a number of desirable health benefits. Because obesity ranks among the top ten diseases (which, by the way, are almost all related to obesity), the availability of a safe, health-promoting fat binder is desirable. Weight control needs to be realistic and effective. Workable weight loss programs are few and far between and usually involve a life style that many of us can never incorporate. While Chitosan is not a panacea for maintaining our youthful figures, it could be a very powerful dietary complement, facilitating what might otherwise be unattainable. Lowering the amount of dietary fats we eat, exercising more, and making sure we get enough fiber seems to be the winning combination for health and longevity. Chitosan is a valuable tool to use in attaining optimal nutrition and robust health.
2. Chitosan is an Effective Fat Binder. While all the previously mentioned properties of Chitosan are notable, its extraordinary ability to bind fats promises to be its most valuable asset. To reiterate, getting rid of fat after it has been stored as adipose tissue is much more difficult than neutralizing its effects before it enters the blood stream. Chitosan accomplishes this formidable task by converting fat into a form that the body does not absorb and subsequently expels.
3. Chitosan Has Remarkable Value. Any of us who occasionally eat southern fried chicken, a Big Mac, or a slice of cheesecake every once in a wile can profoundly benefit from the fat binding action of Chitosan. As a fat binder, Chitosan can significantly reduce the amount of fat that enters our bloodstream. Consider the possibilities. The foods mentioned above are full of excess fat grams. If you take four capsules (1 gram) of Chitosan with ascorbic acid, which is generally recommended, the fat content of that food is dramatically lowered. Remember the discussion on how the liver has to deal with excess fat? Chitosan decreases the liver's work load which lightens the stress put on other body organs by the presence of excess fat. In other words, Chitosan eases the metabolic processes that kick in after we eat excess fat. As far as our metabolic processes know, those fat grams may as well never existed.
4. Why Chitosan is Called the Fiber of the Future. After years of fiber hyping most of us are well aware of the profound benefits that fiber has for human health and longevity. Fiber is considered a dieters best friend. It has also been linked to slower rises in blood glucose which also profoundly affects how we store excess calories and when we feel hungry. Most fibers are hydrophilic which means they repel fat and attract water. Psyllium, for example, is used for its bulk forming action. This type of fiber absorbs water and is easily passed through the intestine, helping to maintain a normal bowel function. Chitosan is different. While it possesses many of the same benefits as plant fibers like psyllium, Chitosan is lipophilic meaning that it loves fat. It is a positively charged fiber that binds to negatively charged fatty acids. A fiber that attracts fat is unique to say the least. Simply stated: Chitosan is a non-digestible dietary fiber. Chitosan binds fats. Chitosan increases the excretion of dietary fats and cholesterol." (Hennen W. Chitosan. Woodland Publishing. 1996. 20-22.)
Chitosan is a non-digestible dietary fiber.
Chitosan binds fats.
Chitosan increases the excretion of dietary fats and cholesterol."
(Hennen W. Chitosan. Woodland Publishing. 1996. 20-22.)
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