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Inadequate diet leads to obesity - opinion

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By Jimmy Downs

Sunday Dec 30, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- The conventional wisdom on preventing and treating obesity dictates that a person needs to have a low intake of calories and have a regular yet intense physical exercise to prevent and treat obesity.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutrition professor of Corn University suggests that eating a plant-based diet is essential in preventing obesity.  He says when a person eats a plant-based diet, he does not have to count calories to prevent obesity.  He can eat whatever amount of foods he wants to eat without fearing weight gain.  He cites a fact that Chinese men and women in old days ate a largely plant-based diet with more calories than Americans have, but much fewer Chinese people got obese.  

(Things have changed now because many Chinese people now follow a Western diet in afluent regions and obesity is now more commonly seen in city people who eat more meat, fat and less plant-based foods.)

Professor Zhao liping and his colleagues at Shanghai Jiao Tong University conducted a great deal of research on bacteria of gut microbiota and their association with diabetes and obesity and found evidence suggesting that obesity in many cases can be caused by an inadequate diet that lacks certain plant-based foods.  He found some bacteria produce endotoxin which triggers low grade of inflammation, which in turn leads to obesity and diabetes among other things.

Professor Zhao used a diet full of plant-based foods himself for 2 years and lost more than about 45 pounds!    What he found is that when he used a plant-based diet, the probiotics in gut microbiota grew faster than those endotoxin-producers.  When he was obese or overweight, he found one beneficial bacterium was almost non-existent.  But after 2 years of using plant-based diet, he found the probiotic grows to account for 15% of the total bacterial mass in gut microbiota.

Professor Zhao and his colleagues demonstrated that the endotoxin producing bacteria are responsible for the development of obesity.  They inoculated such bacteria in germfree mice that were on a high fat diet and those mice became obese.  In comparison, the mice that also ate a high fat diet, but without such toxin producing bacteria in their gut microbiota did not become obese.

All evidence suggests that people eating a high fat diet does not have to develop obesity if they can prevent growth of the endotoxin producing bacteria or bad bacteria.

Professor Zhao 's team isolated active ingredients from certain plants and when it was used to supplement a high fat diet, mice did not get obese.

Zhao's team tested a special diet with whole grain, Chinese yam and bitter melon-fermented prebiotics in a morbidly obese young man.  This is a low fat, low calorie diet.  The man had about 1400 calories per day.  The man used it for about 6 months, he lost more than 120 pounds.  His body mass index dropped from above 56 kg/m2 to normal. Many metabolic parameters such as insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood fat became normal.  Eating a low dat, low calorie diet can surely lead to weight loss.    But what changed in gut microbiota is more encouraging.

The researchers found something occurred in the man's system.  When he was obese, bad bacteria accounted for 35% of the total bacterial mass in gut microbiota.  After months of dietary intervention, bad bacteria dropped to a non-detectable level.

So evidence suggests that certain plant-based foods promote the growth of probiotics and suppress the growth of those toxin-producers.

Forget about the weight loss pills, Atkins's diet,  South Beach diet or weigth watchers.  Don't even bother the dangerous weight loss surgery!  These things are designed to sell products and make money from people with obesity.  The one simple solution is, use a plant-based diet and forget about calorie counting and you will be free of obesity and many other chronic disease such as diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.

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