New pre-meal dietary supplement can cut fat and sugar absorption

Updated: May 24, 2011, 15:45 PM IST

Washington: Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University researchers have developed a nano-dietary supplement, which they claim when taken before meals, can substantial reduce fat and sugar absorption in the body.

The researchers previously showed that naringenin, the molecule responsible for the bitter taste in grapefruits, could potentially be used in the treatment of diabetes, arteriosclerosis and hyper-metabolism.

However, the absorption of naringenin in its natural form is very low.

To overcome this obstacle, the Hebrew University-Harvard research team has now created a nano-complex of naringenin within a ring of sugar called cyclodextrin. This complex increased the absorption of naringenin by 11 times.

Yaakov Nahmias of the Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science at the Hebrew University and his graduate student, Maria Shulman, led the study.

What the researchers found is that a single dose of this complex, taken just before a high fat and high sugar meal given to rats, was able to reduce the generation of VLDL (bad cholesterol) by 42 percent, and increase insulin sensitivity by 64percent.

"The complex is special in that it is taken just before a meal, as a preventative measure. In comparison, existing medications are given only after the chronic development of abnormal lipid levels in the blood," said Nahmias.

The scientists said that considering the sugary taste of cyclodextrin, naringenin, the cause of the bitter taste in grapefruit, is "no longer such a bitter pill to swallow."

The pill is a little bitter with a little sweet.

The discovery has been published in PLoS One.