A cherry-like fruit that grows deep in the Amazon jungle has the potential to help combat the North American obesity crisis, a new study suggests in Good . In the study, an extract of Camu Camu, a round, red, super-tart fruit, reduced obesity and associated diseases in mice whose diet otherwise remained unchanged. It seems that the fruit thwarts weight gain before it can start.
Camu Camu ( Myrciaria dubia ) is already being promoted in a variety of supplements because of its insanely high vitamin C content. However, little research has been done on possible effects on weight control. To investigate, André Marette, a researcher at the Heart and Lung Research Center at the University of Quebec Laval, first gave a group of mice a high-fat, high-sugar chow until they were marginally obese and then gave the same food to another group a dose of Camu Camu extract. Over the course of eight weeks, the Camu Camu group has gained 50 percent less weight than the control group despite its poor dietary habits . In some additional experiments they even lost weight.
"These mice would become diabetics, but this was prevented by the Camu Camu treatment," says Marette * Inverse. "We believe this is because we changed the intestinal microbial because these changes could be reproduced when we administered untreated mice the microbiota affected by Camu Camu."
A change in the intestinal microbiome
Marette believes that Camu Camu can prevent changes in gut microbiota through a high-fat diet. Some intestinal bacteria, such as Lactobacillus thrive in the microbiota of obese individuals. But other useful beetles, such as Akkermansia muciniphila are prone to die off.
"This Camu Camu treatment has been able to prevent these changes and has also resulted in the flowering of some bacteria such as Akkermansia muciniphila which is now a known beetle because it is associated with metabolic health," he adds added.
An additional experiment showed that changes in the gut biota of each individual had a tremendous impact on the body fat of that individual. When the team performed a fecal microbiota transplant between the mice – essentially the transfer of poop (the natural habitat of intestinal bugs) from Camu Camu mice to controls – the recipients of the Camu Camu poop lost up to five percent of their body mass within a day . Those who received the microbiome transplant from the untreated mice gained [three quarters of] their body weight on the first day of colonization.
Fat that burns calories
Marette has a hypothesis to explain these weight changes. "If we've seen massive weight loss, it's either because you're changing your appetite or changing your excretion, but they were not affected," he explains. "But when we put the animals into metabolic cages, we confirmed that the Camu-Camu treatment increased the metabolic rate of these animals without causing them to move any more."
Marette's results showed that Camu Camu extracts increased the animals' metabolic rate, the amount of energy their bodies burn to keep them alive. Different body tissues each have their own metabolic rates: liver and brain tissue both have a high metabolic rate, but adipose tissue remains behind these fast burners. In these mice, however, it was the fat itself that eventually made up its share of the burn – specifically a subspecies of fats called "brown fat".
Brown fat has a higher metabolic rate – that is, it burns through energy at a higher rate – than other types of fat, such as white or yellow fat, says Marette. Humans also have brown fat, but in very small quantities; It is usually around the neck and back. In the rats, changes in the microbiome derived from Camu Camu fueled the naturally burning brown fat fire.
"Genes and proteins associated with fat burning in brown adipose tissue were elevated in these Camu Camu-treated animals," he explains.
These results must be repeated in human subjects before the hype of Camu Camu Supplements is in full swing. But Marette is already applying for grants for these experiments and is likely to use a similar design that he has tested on his animals. If his results are correct, he will probably have more than enough human volunteers without transfusion.