Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Feb 2019

Stop Unhealthy Food Cravings

Impulse snacking leads to unwanted weight gain. Swedish scientists have discovered a novel spinach extract that in a clinical study decreased cravings for snacks and sweets by 36%. Study subjects also experienced a 21% decrease in hunger.

By Michael Downey

One of America's most dangerous pastimes is impulse snacking.

Research suggests that junk food can be as addictive as drugs like cocaine, which explains why people can't control their urges to snack.1

Americans have become addicted to high-calorie junk foods rich in fat, sugar, and salt.

In addition to contributing to unwanted weight gain, these foods spike blood glucose and insulin levels, increase cardiovascular risk, and threaten longevity.

Two Swedish scientists have discovered a novel spinach extract that decreases cravings for junk food, reduces hunger, and helps one feel full for up to eight hours.2

The secret to this spinach extract's ability to curb hunger is that it encourages the release of the satiety enhancing hormone, GLP-1, which increases feelings of fullness.3

In a clinical study, this extract from spinach decreased cravings for snacks and sweets during the rest of the day by 36%. Study subjects also experienced a 21% decrease in hunger.2

This spinach extract has been incorporated into a great-tasting nutritional bar. Consuming one bar a day with breakfast or as an afternoon snack is a tasty way to help stick to a healthy diet and control food cravings.

Perhaps more important, the number of excess calories most people ingest each day can be meaningfully reduced.

What you need to know

  • Strong cravings for junk food promote high-calorie food choices that result in weight gain and threaten longevity.
  • A spinach extract that is rich in potent thylakoids slashes cravings for these tastes for as long as eight hours, increases feelings of fullness, and reduces between-meal hunger.
  • This patented extract is now available in a delicious bar that reduces cravings for junk food, helping you make healthy food choices and stick to a healthy diet.

How Cravings Sabotage a Healthy Diet

Spinach

Cutting junk food out of your diet is easier said than done.

Some research suggests that junk food is like an addictive drug that stimulates dopamine release in brain cells.1

Foods high in fat and calories trigger pleasure centers in the brain and contribute to emotional eating.

This helps explain why we crave energy-dense foods that are rich in fat, sugar, and salt (like ice cream and potato chips), as opposed to nutrient-dense foods (like green vegetables).4

These unhealthy food cravings sabotage a healthy diet and contribute to unwanted weight gain and obesity.4-6

Willpower alone is often not enough to overcome these cravings.

Scientists have developed a spinach extract that has been shown to specifically reduce cravings for snacks that are rich in sugar, fat, and salt. This extract also helps reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness, which can help you make healthier food choices.

The Secret Locked Inside Spinach

Scientist holding a test tube

This spinach extract provides novel compounds known as thylakoids.

Thylakoids are natural substances found in green leafy vegetables. The body normally can't utilize thylakoids because they are "locked" inside the non-digestible cell walls of the raw vegetable. And thylakoids are usually damaged by cooking.2,7

Two Swedish professors at Lund University developed a system to "unlock" thylakoids from spinach so they are available to the body.

This produced a powerful ally in the quest to kick cravings and eat healthy.

Cut the Cravings

Image showing brain and gut communication

In one clinical study, scientists set out to investigate how just one dose of thylakoid-rich spinach extract affected hunger and cravings throughout the day.2

The study included 22 women averaging 54.5 years old who struggled with cravings for certain foods such as chocolates and salty snacks.2

With breakfast, the women were given either a drink that contained 5 grams of the spinach extract or a placebo drink.

When compared to the placebo, women ingesting the spinach extract before breakfast experienced a 36% decrease in cravings for all snacks and sweets during the rest of the day.2

Those taking the spinach extract also experienced a 21% decrease in hunger and a 14% increase in satiety.2

The researchers also found that decreases in cravings correlated to a reduction in snack food intake.

In other words, by reducing hunger and cravings for junk food, the spinach extract should make it much easier to forgo snacking between meals.2

Turn On an Appetite-Suppressing Hormone

Man and woman holding a barbell

In another human study, scientists studied the effects of taking the thylakoid-rich spinach extract every day for 90 days.3

The research team enlisted 38 overweight women. Half were given 5 grams of the thylakoid-rich spinach extract in a drink every morning before breakfast for 12 weeks. The other half received a placebo drink. All volunteers were asked to eat three meals a day.

Compared to controls, those receiving the extract found it easier to stick to three meals a day without snacking in between. They also reported decreased cravings for sweet and fatty foods.

And while the control group experienced increased cravings for junk food both before and after eating lunch, the group receiving the spinach extract reported just the opposite. They reported decreases in cravings before and after lunch (despite receiving no additional extract at lunch).

These effects were demonstrated on day one and continued after 12 weeks. This indicates that the decreases in cravings occur immediately and continue working over time as well.

Blood tests revealed that everyone taking the spinach extract experienced a greater after-meal release of the satiety-enhancing hormone GLP-1. Turning on "signals" (like GLP-1) that prompt cessation of eating can help people stick to a healthy diet.

In addition, within 30 minutes of taking the spinach extract, glucose and insulin levels were significantly reduced. Plus, the women taking the spinach extract showed decreased levels of LDL and total cholesterol after 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks.3

Even after 12 weeks, there were no adverse treatment effects.

Additional Support

Additional controlled trials produced similar results compared to placebo, including:8-10

  • 25% reduced hunger,
  • 35% reduced thoughts of food,
  • Increased fullness,
  • Reduced cravings for salty or savory foods,
  • Increased levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone CCK , and
  • Reduced TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha), a signaling protein involved in systemic inflammation.

How It Works

Woman eating a salad

Every time you eat, your stomach and your brain "talk" to one another.

The digestive system sends hormone signals to the brain to tell it when you've had enough to eat. The brain then suppresses cravings and hunger to prevent you from overeating.

The trouble is that modern processed foods are broken down so quickly that the hormones in the intestines that would normally send "fullness" signals to the brain simply cannot keep up.10

Thylakoids have been shown to slow the uptake of fats in the intestine, which allows the release of two important satiety signals into the bloodstream: one that suppresses hunger (called cholecystokinin, or CCK), and one that enhances satiety (called glucagon-like peptide-1 , or GLP-1).2,3,10,11

What this means is that the thylakoid-rich spinach extract helps reduce hunger and cravings by giving the body's own satiety signals time to work.

GLP-1 also helps decrease blood glucose levels, which reduces after-meal blood sugar spikes. These spikes are dangerous for diabetics and non-diabetics because they cause damage that can harm every organ in the body and accelerate aging processes.

The overall effect of this thylakoid-rich spinach extract is to slash hunger pangs and cravings for high-calorie snacks. This helps individuals stick to a proper diet, with less temptation for unhealthy food choices, which is a common cause of excess weight and obesity.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Approach to Optimal Body Weight

The current scientific evidence in favor of a proprietary thylakoid-rich spinach extract for helping individuals reduce snacking on unhealthy, sugar- and salt-rich foods is impressive.

However, sustained body weight management is far more complex than simply avoiding salt- and sugar-laden foods, although this is an important factor.

Most people want to lose weight very fast, but most scientific evidence suggests a gradual approach is best for sustained weight loss.

Further, even losing 5% of current body weight can achieve impressive improvements in vascular health profiles including blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and other factors.

This can be achieved by improving eating behaviors and making healthier food choices such as lean proteins like skinless chicken, complex carbohydrates rich in fiber like yams, healthy fats found in fish like salmon, and monounsaturated fat sources like high quality olive oil.

Optimizing critical metabolic targets like cellular AMPK with supplements (e.g. gynostemma extract, hesperidin) and pharmaceutical options (e.g. metformin) can help with long-term weight management.

Exercise is important for maintaining weight loss over the long-term by supporting lean body mass. Successful maintenance of weight loss ideally includes 60 to 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (like walking at a brisk pace) several days per week.

Summary

Junk food cravings can make eating healthy and losing weight difficult.

America's current addiction to high-calorie foods is driven not by hunger, but by strong cravings for tastes that are sweet, salty, or fatty.

The result is weight gain, cardiovascular risk, and reduced longevity.

Human studies show that a patented spinach extract, rich in compounds called thylakoids, decreases hunger and reduces cravings for junk food for as long as eight hours.

This extract has been incorporated into a tasty nutritional bar that naturally slashes cravings and the desire for between-meal snacks.

Consuming just one nutritional bar in the morning or in the afternoon can help reduce hunger and junk food cravings all day long.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

  1. Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nat Neurosci. 2010 May;13(5):635-41.
  2. Stenblom EL, Egecioglu E, Landin-Olsson M, et al. Consumption of thylakoid-rich spinach extract reduces hunger, increases satiety and reduces cravings for palatable food in overweight women. Appetite. 2015 Aug;91:209-19.
  3. Montelius C, Erlandsson D, Vitija E, et al. Body weight loss, reduced urge for palatable food and increased release of GLP-1 through daily supplementation with green-plant membranes for three months in overweight women. Appetite. 2014 Oct;81:295-304.
  4. Drewnowski A, Almiron-Roig E. Human Perceptions and Preferences for Fat-Rich Foods. In: Montmayeur JP, le Coutre J, editors. Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2010.
  5. Finkelstein EA, Khavjou OA, Thompson H, et al. Obesity and Severe Obesity Forecasts Through 2030. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012 Jun;42(6):563-70.
  6. Yeomans MR, Blundell JE, Leshem M. Palatability: response to nutritional need or need-free stimulation of appetite? Br J Nutr. 2004 Aug;92 Suppl 1:S3-14.
  7. Ostbring K, Rayner M, Sjoholm I, et al. The effect of heat treatment of thylakoids on their ability to inhibit in vitro lipase/co-lipase activity. Food Funct. 2014 Sep;5(9):2157-65.
  8. Gustafsson K, Montelius C, Westrom B, et al. Gastrointestinal satiety through green leave components called thylakoids. Poster Presentation. Istanbul, Obesity Conference. 2011.
  9. Rebello CJ, Chu J, Beyl R, et al. Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):470-7.
  10. Stenblom EL, Montelius C, Ostbring K, et al. Supplementation by thylakoids to a high carbohydrate meal decreases feelings of hunger, elevates CCK levels and prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in overweight women. Appetite. 2013 Sep;68:118-23.
  11. Albertsson PA, Kohnke R, Emek SC, et al. Chloroplast membranes retard fat digestion and induce satiety: effect of biological membranes on pancreatic lipase/co-lipase. Biochem J. 2007 Feb 1;401(3):727-33.

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