Hunter Medical Research Institute researchers are examining whether a simple fruit-and-vegetable supplement, taken in capsule form, can reduce inflammation produced by fat cells and thereby lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and cancers in overweight people.
Associate Professor Lisa Wood and Dr Katherine Baines from the University of Newcastle believe that poor diet quality is markedly impacting the metabolic health of older overweight adults, with only 5 per cent of Australians getting their recommended dietary intake of fruit and vegetables per day.
They have begun recruiting for a randomised-control clinical trial to determine if the supplement can be an alternate means of delivering beneficial phytochemicals naturally found in fresh fruit and vegetables.
The capsules contain extracts of fruit and vegetables including carrots, broccoli and spinach along with apples, oranges, pineapples and berries.
Associate Professor Wood says there are many reasons why people don’t consume the current recommended guidelines of five serves of vegetables and two pieces of fruit per day.
“We know that fruit and vegetables can reduce the damaging effects of being overweight, and now we want to see if nutrients extracted from fruit and vegetables can have similar protective effects by lessening inflammation.”
The researchers are encouraging people who are worried about their weight and the effects it could be having on their health to enrol in the trial. It involves taking capsules daily for eight weeks and having two clinic visits with blood sampling, body composition testing and dietary analysis.
It is not a weight-loss study but rather a means of improving metabolism, Associate Professor Wood adds.
“When you’re overweight, fat tissue not only makes you feel uncomfortable it also produces chemicals that circulate in the bloodstream and greatly increase the risk of chronic diseases,” she said.
“Phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables can suppress the effects of these damaging chemicals and reduce the effects of being overweight.”
* Associate Professor Lisa Wood and Dr Katherine Baines are from the University of Newcastle, researching in conjunction with HMRI’s VIVA program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.