Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Modern man's fight against excessive eating of food and its consequences in the form of distorted body shapes are issues that worry nutritionists and health experts world over. It is well known that with high end technologies developed for design and fabrication of food products by the industry majority of consumers find it irresistible to avoid calorie rich foods with high sensory pleasure bordering on addiction. According to some projections, obesity is likely to affect more than one third of the population in this planet if corrective actions are not taken now to reverse the trend. With per capita earning increasing significantly in most of the countries, the purchasing power also goes up and crux of the problem lies in utilizing this increased money supply "intelligently" to buy healthy foods from the market.

The situation is becoming desperate in many developed countries where the food industry has been flooding the market with foods that score in terms of sensory attributes but ignoring its social responsibility to market healthy alternatives also. If consumer has no choice to choose between a good and a bad food the buying consideration probably will be influenced by the cost factor and invariably unhealthy foods are much cheaper than their healthy counterparts pushing the consumer towards this segment. Measures such as taxation, label warning, policy restrictions etc do not seem to be making any dent in this critical area of public health. At consumer level restrictive diet regimes, weight reducing diet foods, special exercise programs, bariatric surgery to reduce stomach volume, stitching tongue patches surgically, resistant starch based diets etc, are all practiced with limited success. Ultimate answer may be developing necessary "will" power to resist food temptations and acquiring the ability to select healthy foods. A tall order indeed!

Discovery in 1942 that certain plant foods contain active principles that can help in reducing weight gain led to the discovery of Phaseolamin, an active alpha amylase enzyme blocker that could prevent quick assimilation of starch contained in the diet, allowing a significant portion of the starch calories in the food consumed to pass through the GI tract without releasing the glucose. Phaseolus vulgaris seed or the commonly known white kidney bean is a good source of this enzyme, though initial extracts commercialized with great hurry in late nineteen seventies failed to take off due to presence of impurities, low enzymatic activity and susceptibility to destruction under the strong acidic environment in the stomach. It was only much later that 100% pure product was fractionated out of the bean extract with high alpha amylase inhibiting units (aaiu), as high as 5000 aaiu per gm, sufficient to block 500 gm of starch with 2250 calories potential.

Development of products like tablets, capsules, diet supplements, chewables, baking mixes, beverage powders etc has given a fillip to this approach to tackle the calorie "crisis". According to independent research findings from scientific laboratories including the reputed Mayo Clinic, consumption of 250-1000 mg of Phaseolamin for 4 to 8 weeks can achieve weight reduction of 2-3 kg, waist reduction up to 3 inches and reduction of 10% body fat without any side effect. Alpha amylase, a glycoprotein enzyme produced by pancreas, is absolutely necessary for the enzymatic hydrolysis of starch into glucose before assimilation by the body. Pure Phaseolamin has the GRAS status because of zero toxicity demonstrated by independent pharmacologists and therefore can be used in food preparations safely. However some of the commercial products use recipes containing caffeine, silica etc and there fore necessary precaution needs to be exercised before deciding to try these preparations for weight reduction

Phaseolamin based preparations are chiefly peddled for weight reduction but it should also be equally effective in people afflicted with Phase 2 diabetes since it effectively makes the food a low GI one with low glycemic load per serving. But so far the manufacturers have not targeted diabetics for marketing these preparations. It is not known whether Phaseolamin is effective in preventing glucose "surge" in diabetics after consuming a starch rich diet. Probably diabetologists should consider the possibility of using Phaseolamin in diabetic patients and if successful the quality of life of these unfortunate victims of modern life style changes is bound to be improved tremendously.


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