26 Nov Can Local Man Save Queensland’s Fattest City?
USQ scientists set to break the obesity cycle with leading edge findings. Are functional foods better than dieting and exercise…..
Toowoomba takes out the unenviable title of the fattest city in Queensland according to researchers at the Mitchell Institute. Over 83% of the Toowoomba population is overweight or obese, posing major disease risk and a potential public health crisis in the region. But all is not lost for the Garden City with one of its locals possibly holding the key to ending the city’s obesity problem. Professor Lindsay Brown of University of Southern Queensland at Toowoomba has spent more than a decade investigating functional foods and their affect on lifestyle diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and cancer. Professor Brown says that seaweed is showing exceptional effectiveness in reversing obesity related health problems in both mouse and human studies.
Prof Brown and his team of researchers fed rats a junk food diet. The rats, just like humans, gained weight especially around the belly, and also developed fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, pre-type 2 diabetes, arthritis and inflammation of the gut.
But eating as little as 5 gm of seaweed per day completely reversed all of these symptoms. Blood pressure returned to normal and cell damage to the heart and liver was reversed. Fatty deposits in liver and blood vessels disappeared. The body’s response to sugar reverted back to the healthy functioning and diabetes risk was eliminated. Inflammation throughout the body was minimised so joint and heart health was much improved. Professor Brown says the results are highly impressive and somewhat unexpected. He anticipated an improvement in symptoms but not a complete reversal, and a result better than if the patient was taking multiple medicines.
Professor Brown now wants to get the message out to the residents of his home town to help change Toowoomba’s frightening health reputation. He openly provides all the science so residents can judge the effectiveness for themselves. However the media and medical industry have been slow to realise the potential of functional foods.
Fat Rats Eat Seaweed to get Lean
The question was posed to Prof Brown recently about the research undertaken by the University of Southern Queensland Health and Wellbeing Unit at the Toowoomba campus. With such compelling research data, why had his research been ignored? He and his team had done research over the past 15 years on multiple Functional Foods. These are just some of the functional foods Prof Brown has studied over the past decade and a half.
- Purple Carrots
- Purple Corn
- Queen Garnet Plums
- Linseed Oil
- Coconut Oil and Chips
- Green Coffee
- Chia seeds
- Choke berries
- Green and black cardamon
- Red pitaya juice
- Davidson Plum
- European oak bark (Quercus petraea L.)
Typical Intervention Trials
Professor Lindsay and his team with all these various functional foods undertook very similar trials that tried to mimic human obesity.
- Some animals were fed normal rat food
- Others were feed a junk food diet – high sugar and beef tallow
- By the end of about 6 weeks, the rats on the junk food diet had obesity similar to that of 65% of the adult population in Toowoomba. ie. Big girth (waist), 2 x the weight of normal fed rats, fatty liver, inflammation of blood vessels, elevated blood pressure (155 mm).
- Some of the obese rats were then continued to eat the junk food diet, but they got about 5gm equivalent of seaweed (or other functional foods)
- At 12 weeks the animals were examined.
Prof Brown did some prevention trials where rats were split into 3 groups – normal, junk food, and junk food with seaweed. The addition of just a little seaweed to a junk food diet showed the rats did not even get obese. There is hope there for childhood obesity. Feed the kids or teenagers seaweed along with their junk food!
Fat Rats Became Lean
- Statistically, the outcomes were extremely consistent and every rat:
- All signs of fat in the liver had gone.
- Weight was down to normal.
- Fat bodies within the animal were gone.
- Blood pressure back to normal.
- Inflammation in blood vessels gone.
- Fibrous tissue in the heart had gone
- Arthritis symptoms gone.
- Gut microbiome returned to normal or even improved.
Why has the Data been Ignored?
The data has been ignored for probably 4 reasons.
- People don’t feel like they are sick when they are obese
- People do not like change
- Seaweed is foreign to the Australian diet
- Doing something regular for your health is hard work.
- Even if people go to the doctor and get medication, 25% is not taken.
- Diets fail. For those who diet, 80% will be heavier than when they start after two years.
- Many people have a Grade 5 education and health messages are too complex for this cohort.