In the last two decades, there has been a resurgence by pharmaceutical companies in seeking drugs to combat obesity. Several effective drugs have been developed but these have been associated with troubling side effects and the medications are prohibitively expensive. It is very unlikely that there will ever be a safe drug that can help everyone lose weight.
Many people are dis-satisfied with conventional medicine and have been turning to alternative healthcare for treatment of obesity. Even though there are hundreds of health supplements touted to help people lose weight, most are scams and are not effective.
One supplement that has received attention is omega 7 fatty acid. Anecdotal reports persist in the literature and on many websites about the weight loss that can occur with the novel omega 7 fatty acid.
What is omega 7 fatty acid?
Omega 7 fatty acid is a recently discovered substance. Also known as palmitoleic acid it has been shown to possess unique health benefits, including helping some people lose weight and reducing the risk for heart disease. Like their more well known cousins, the omega-3 fatty acids, omega-7 fatty acids are also unsaturated.
However, unlike the omega 3 fatty acids which the body is unable to make, omega 7 fatty acids are not essential because the body has the ability to make them.
In addition, omega-7 fatty acids are found in nuts (macademia nuts) and some natural oils (buckthorn berries). Omega 7 supplements are not usually available at the local grocery store but only in certain online and retail health food stores.
Like the omega 3 fatty acids, omega 7 fatty acid appears to have several health benefits but with an entirely different mode of action. Pamitoleic acid not only functions as an inflammatory molecule but is vital for signaling metabolic reactions and communication between the different cell typse in the body.
Omega 7 has been referred to as a lipokine, which is defined a "hormone like molecule" that ensures optimal utilization of fats and limits excess fat production in the entire body.
What are the Health Benefits of Omega 7?
Recent studies indicate that this exotic supplement can counter the risk factors that are responsible for the metabolic syndrome, something which has not been possible with current conventional medical therapy. Not only can omega 7 reduce the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, it does this at much lower cost than pharmaceutical medications.
Several studies have reported that omega 7 acids can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, prevent build up of the atherosclerotic plaque and lower the inflammatory marker, known as C-reactive protein. Other studies show that omega 7 can improve insulin sensitivity, increase levels of the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). By modulating these risk factors, omega 7 not only improves overall healthy but also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Omega 7: Metabolic Syndrome and Body Weight
One common reason why people develop abdominal obesity or enlargement of the waist circumference is metabolic syndrome, which is strongly associated with risks of heart disease and diabetes. This syndrome is believed to be due to uncontrolled inflammation as a result of the excess fat.
Omega 7 helps in the management of metabolic syndrome by decreasing the inflammation which is due to the stored fat deposits. The other benefit of omega 7 fatty acid is that by controlling the fat production and decreasing storage, it also helps the individual lose weight.
Several studies have shown that laboratory animals fed diets that are rich in omega 7 have release of gastrointestinal hormones which promote a sense of fullness. At the same time, these hormones also work both peripherally and centrally and suppress the desire to eat. This combined mode of action also leads to gradual weight loss. While large scale human studies have not been done yet on omega 7, there are ample anecdotal reports on the weight reducing properties of these supplements.
Should One Start Omega-7 Supplements to Lose Weight?
While most of the evidence regarding omega 7 supplements and weight loss have been observed in the metabolic syndrome, there is no reason to believe that the supplement will not work in obese adults who do not have this syndrome. Experts in nutrition believe that omega 7 fatty acid is not a one shot deal and that for the maximal weight loss it needs to be taken regularly.
While the exact mode of action and its full health benefits of omega 7 are still being worked out, experts caution that one should not rely on just one supplement for weight loss. Over the past four decades, there has been a significant decay in our lifestyle. People now have an overabundance of cheap food and super-sizing is now an embedded concept.
Our lives are a lot easier compared to our forefathers. At least 70% of the population lives a sedentary lifestyle and even walking around the block is a burden. New drugs will be developed for weight loss but they will never be a replacement for a radical changes in lifestyle. Drugs and supplements like omega 7 pills may help people lose a few pounds initially, but going beyond that is going to take a lot of determination and motivation and that means exercising more and eating less.