For the past 10 years we’ve had it drummed into us that sugar is bad for the body. Period. But to the delight of sweet tooths everywhere (*raises hand*) there may actually be an exception to this rule.
Unlike the highly refined stuff that comes in a tiny packet alongside a takeaway coffee, mannose is a type of natural sugar found in fruits like cranberries. And experts believe it could be the key to shifting stubborn stomach fat.
Professor Hudson Freeze – director of the Human Genetics Program at the Sandford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute – and his team allocated 3 and 8-week-old mice to each of the following groups at random:
- Those fed a high-fat, mannose-free diet
- Those fed a high-fat diet with mannose
- Those fed a normal, mannose-free diet
- Those fed a normal diet with mannose
They then analysed the gut microbiota of the mice, taking note of their body weight, fat and blood sugar levels as well as their overall fitness.
The results? The rodents who were fed a high-fat diet that included mannose had less fatty livers, higher fitness levels, more tolerance to glucose and were generally leaner than those who ate the same diet but without mannose. This group were also found to have “higher fecal energy content” and were able to process carbohydrates less efficiently – meaning they absorbed fewer calories.
But the juiciest finding was yet to come.
When the researchers analysed the gut microbiome from the same group of mice for a second time (after removing the mannose from their diet,) they noticed two key things: Their bacterial composition mirrored that of obese rodents and they had regained all the weight they lost.
Sure, this study has its limitations (mainly, that it doesn’t involve humans). Still, it’s hoped that the findings can lead to good things for the ever-growing obesity epidemic.
“These findings further confirm the important role of the gut microbiome in metabolism,” Professor Freeze explained. “The microbiome partially explains the beneficial effects of mannose, but how exactly it affects the body’s metabolism remains a mystery.”
“Obesity and related diseases, such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are on the rise – and scientists are on the hunt for new treatments, particularly for individuals who are unable to exercise,” he added.”
“Better understanding of mannose’s effects on the gut microbiome may lead to new therapies for treating obesity.”