By. Dr. Natasha Turner ND
The benefit of adiponectin seems too good to be true: essentially, it burns fat. In some animal testing models, this advantage appeared without a coinciding increase in hunger. The biggest benefits of this fat-burning hormone; however, may prove to go well beyond your belly, hips and thighs.
Adiponectin is a hormone produced in and sent out from our fat cells. The appropriate amounts of adiponectin can decrease inflammation and fuel fat loss. Even though it’s produced by our fat cells, it actually helps us lose fat by improving our insulin sensitivity. Think of adiponectin as the fat factor that ironically leads to its own demise; it’s produced by your fat, but helps to burn it up!
Adiponectin was first described relatively recently, in 1995, and I’ve yet to find mention of a downside to its abundance. It seems that nothing but good things come from the effects of this metabolic hormone. In fact, the March 2016 issue of the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology summarized adiponectin’s benefits, from hundreds of studies over the past two decades, linking it to improvements in obesity, diabetes, inflammation, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
If all this wasn’t enough, adiponectin has been shown to induce “apoptosis” (intentional, programmed cell death) in certain types of cancers. This protective benefit is easier to get than you think. For instance, women were able to increase their levels of adiponectin simply by increasing the amount of tomatoes in their diet. Impressive! Here are my top 10 ways to get your boost just in time for bikini season.
1. Healthy Fats Help
Amazingly, researchers have found that intake of monounsaturated fats, such as fish oil, boosts levels of adiponectin by 14 to 60 per cent. This may be explained in part by research found in Diabetes Care (July 2007) stating that replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fat resulted in increases in fasting adiponectin levels. Even better, is that these are the tastiest fats to eat! They include avocados, nuts, olive oil and olives. Safflower oil has also been shown to trigger the production of adiponectin, which assists in the catabolism of fatty acids. In the presence of safflower oil, adiponectin production increases up to 20 per cent more than usual. In fact, research from Ohio State University (2011) shows that 1.5 tablespoons of safflower oil—naturally high in an omega-6 compound known as linolenic acid—a day can lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar levels and reduce trunk fat in post-menopausal women by virtue of its positive effects on adiponectin levels. In this study, 16 weeks of supplementation with this super-oil also had another unanticipated side effect: increased muscle tissue. Rather than consuming the processed oil, I recommend getting your health-promoting dose of this oil by consuming 4 capsules per day of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) derived from safflower oil.
2. Fill Up on Fibre
Good old fibre still seems to be a time-tested leader in the weight-loss field—but now we have cutting-edge evidence to explain its dominance. Researchers have found that adding fibre to the diet increased adiponectin levels by as much as 115 per cent! Fiber also stabilizes glucose levels and reduces the glycemic impact of meals (i.e., the blood sugar spike after you eat), which improves insulin sensitivity. I can’t say enough about getting your 35 g of fiber per day–divided between four meals. It’s so simple, but the influences on your fat loss and hormonal balance are really profound.
3. All about Exercise
Adiponectin plays an important role in the energetic capacity of skeletal muscle, according to a study in the July 2006 issue of Cell Metabolism. There’s evidence linking low adiponectin levels to insulin resistance and reductions in the number of “cellular power plants,” called mitochondria, in skeletal muscle. Therapies designed to boost the adiponectin signal might therefore prove beneficial for the treatment of insulin resistance and diabetes. Mitochondria utilize nutrient components, including fats and carbohydrates, to generate usable energy, and the number of mitochondria influences the way that muscles function. People who exercise regularly will have more mitochondria in their muscles than those who are sedentary.
Earlier studies found that obese individuals and those with Type 2 diabetes have reduced adiponectin concentrations. To counteract this, participants were asked to perform moderate exercise daily. This raised levels of the hormone by up to 48 per cent! To experience an increase in adiponectin, this research suggests, you need moderate exercise at least three times a week. The elevation in adiponectin levels occurs for 24 to 72 hours—which explains my inspiration to suggest walking at least three times per week as part of the Hormone Boost workout.
4. Don’t Kick Your Coffee Habit
Regular coffee consumption has been linked to an increase in adiponectin levels and a reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could boost weight loss and reduce inflammation levels. In fact, habitual coffee consumption was associated with high adiponectin levels in a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition (June 2011) involving Japanese males. While green tea is often touted as a healthier caffeine intake, coffee was demonstrably more successful than green tea in boosting adiponectin. The Hormone Boost recommends organic, fair trade coffee; you can enjoy a cup early in the day or before a workout for best results.
5. Top Up the Turmeric
Turmeric (active ingredient is curcumin) fights inflammation, which, at high levels, contributes to weight gain. As well as working at the fat cell level, turmeric increases adiponectin production and improves insulin sensitivity. It works by reducing the hormones in your fat cells that cause inflammation (primarily resistin and leptin), and it boosts adiponectin, which helps control appetite. If you prefer supplements, take 1 to 2 capsules on an empty stomach (30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours after). If you experience heartburn, take it with food instead.
6. Revel in Red Wine
Raise your glass if you are healthy in all the right ways! Resveratrol, a compound in grapes, displays antioxidant and other positive properties. A 2011 study in The Journal of Biological Chemistry by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio describes one way that resveratrol exerts these beneficial health effects: it stimulates the expression of adiponectin. Both adiponectin and resveratrol display anti-obesity, anti–insulin resistance, and anti-aging properties. An alternate to consuming red wine is the supplement derived from it, resveratrol. I suggest two capsules daily on rising.
7. Consume Your Carbs at Dinner
Yes, you read that correctly: carbs in the evening are actually good for you! According to a 2012 research study completed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an experimental diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner, rather than during the day, seems to benefit people suffering from severe and morbid obesity. This diet seems to influence the secretion patterns of the hormones responsible for hunger and satiety, as well as the hormones associated with metabolic syndrome, including a boost in the daytime production of adiponectin. However, there is another important discovery to come from this study: these effects appeared to help dieters persist over the long run. The study lasted 6 months, and the participants stuck with it. This study suggests there is an advantage in concentrating carbohydrate intake in the evening, a benefit that could translate to all of us, but especially to people at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease due to obesity.
8. You Say Tomato, I Say Yes!
A tomato-rich diet may help protect at-risk post-menopausal women from breast cancer, according to new research in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (December 2013). Eating a diet high in tomatoes had a positive effect on the level of hormones that play a role in regulating fat and sugar metabolism, particularly adiponectin. The study assessed the effects of both tomato-rich and soy-rich diets in a collection of seventy post-menopausal women. For 10 weeks, the women ate tomato products containing at least 25 mg of lycopene daily. For a separate 10-week period, the participants consumed at least 40 g of soy protein daily. Before each test period began, the women were instructed to abstain from eating both tomato and soy products for 2 weeks. We know that eating fruits and vegetables rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene conveys significant benefits. Based on this data, regular consumption of at least the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables would promote breast cancer prevention in an at-risk population.
When they followed the tomato-rich diet, participants’ levels of adiponectin climbed 9 per cent. Interestingly, the soy diet was linked to a reduction in participants’ adiponectin levels. Researchers originally theorized that a diet containing large amounts of soy could be part of the reason that Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer than women in the United States, but any beneficial effect may be limited to certain ethnic groups. Regardless, including tomatoes in your diet contributes to healthy adiponectin levels.
9. Give Me an Adiponectin Boost—Fast!
Intermittent fasting is all the rage—but it turns out to be more than just a diet trend. A scientific review in The British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease suggests that fasting diets may also help those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Intermittent fasting (fasting on a given number of consecutive or alternate days) has recently been hailed as a path to weight loss and lowered cardiovascular risk. A team led by Dr. James Brown from Aston University (April 2013) evaluated the various approaches to intermittent fasting in scientific literature. They searched specifically for the advantages and limitations in treating obesity and Type 2 diabetes using fasting diets. The basic format of intermittent fasting is to alternate days eating “normally” with days when calorie consumption is restricted. This can either be done on alternate days (day 1: eat normally; day 2: restrict), or by establishing 2 days within each week as fasting days. These types of intermittent fasting have been shown in trials to be as effective as or more effective than counting calories every day to lose weight. Evidence from clinical trials shows that fasting can limit inflammation, improve levels of sugars and fats in circulation by impacting adiponectin, and reduce blood pressure. Learn more about my recommended approach to intermittent fasting in this recent article posted on the AOR Blog: https://bit.ly/2tFsuDW
10. Simple as Zinc at bedtime:
The level of adiponectin increased significantly in subjects who received 50 mg of zinc compared to a control group, according to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Diabetes and Obesity (June 2012). Take 50 mg of zinc citrate or zinc picolinate for a maximum of 12 weeks only, then reduce the dose or switch to a multivitamin containing zinc.
Having adiponectin as one of the tools in your summer weight loss kit will help balance your insulin. Even better, though, is that the higher your levels are (i.e., the more you follow the suggestions above), the more efficiently you will burn calories, even at rest.