Chitosan Can Help To Lose Weight?
Chitosan is a substance derived from the carapace of certain crustaceans. It is the family of fibers and can not be absorbed by the body.
Chitosan is commonly found in slimming products, where the merits of catching and elimination of fat ingested during meals are praised. Under certain conditions, chitosan can bind fat molecules and lead to their elimination via natural pathways. But, the properties of chitosan are far from being as miraculous as advertisers say and it does not bind with all absorbed fats. Moreover, the vagueness surrounding the production of chitosan makes experimentation and use quite complicated.
History of chitosan
Chitosan was used until recently only for cosmetic use or in the textile industry. But, it is now at the heart of scientific experiments to determine its value. In medicine, in particular, as an ingredient to make microcapsules capable of resisting certain stages of digestion in order to deliver their contents only at the right place of the digestive system. But it is also experimented in the field of dietetics to know its true power of action to treat the overweight.
Production of chitosan
Chitosan is a discovery dating back to 1859. It was obtained after treating chitin with potassium hydroxide concentrated at high temperature.
Today, the industry uses waste from the food industry of crustaceans or mushrooms. It takes between 10 and 25 kilos of crustacean shell to produce 1 kilo of chitosan.
The chitin of this waste is chemically deacetylated or by enzymatic treatment. It is the degree of acetylation (DA) that determines the difference between chitin and chitosan. Above 50% acetylation, the substance is called chitin. Below 50% it is called chitosan, it is at this level that the molecule becomes soluble in an acid medium.
There is therefore a 1 to 50% acetylation range in which several products can be called chitosan without having the same properties. This is one of the causes that can lead to questioning the effectiveness of chitosan.
Effects of Chitosan
Indeed, as we have seen, the produced chitosan can be more or less acetylated. It seems that, to bind fatty acids and cholesterol, chitosan must have been deacetylated to 89% minimum. This is absolutely not the case with all products on the market. And what is not necessarily indicated on the packaging.
Moreover, it seems that the molecular weight of chitosan is also an element to be taken into account. However, not all chitosans have the same molecular weight, although they bear the same name. There is a weight difference of 25 kDa to 450 kDa between the different products on the market whereas the ideal weight is apparently 40 kDa or less. This is also not mentioned on the labels of all these products.
These parameters already make it possible to understand that the results of the various studies are to be taken with tweezers and have difficulty in demonstrating conclusive results for this substance.
Many studies focus on the effects of chitosan, but while the results seem to point to positive action on weight loss, the low methodological quality of many studies makes it difficult to take them seriously. Moreover, the difference between each experiment makes it difficult to compare them. Thus, the duration or number of patients in some studies is insufficient, the doses and diet of the candidates may vary, and the chitosan used does not necessarily have the same quality or characteristics.
Despite this, it seems that the few more reliable studies tend to demonstrate an effect on slimming but which remains fairly light.
It also appears that taking chitosan accompanying a change in lifestyle is more effective than the action of both separately.
Chitosan is also given other properties than the ability to act on fats. One study, for example, highlighted the favorable properties of this substance on oxidative stress markers. In addition, some claim that chitosan may have a preventive effect in colon cancer.
Finally, the effects and mechanisms of action of chitosan remain unclear and more reliable studies are expected before it can be determined on its true effectiveness.
Chitosan’s side effects
Since it has not been tested on children or pregnant women, it is preferable not to use chitosan in these settings. In addition, people allergic to crustaceans must remain vigilant about its use.
Chitosan has not shown many troublesome side effects. However, cases of constipation or intestinal discomfort have been reported in some people.
Finally, experiments on animals using large doses of chitosan have led to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals and it is therefore advisable to avoid consuming chitosan in the long term, simply by precautionary principle.
The recommended dosages are 3 to 6 g per day, spread over the different meals of the day.
The chitosan used must have been deacetylated to 89% minimum (DA 11% or less) and its molecular weight must be 40 kDa or less. Otherwise, chitosan may have no effect.
Given the diversity of qualities of the products put on the market and the lack of information given by the manufacturers, it is difficult to complement well in chitosan.
And even by obtaining a well calibrated product, the results are not guaranteed and will remain modest in any case.
If you want to try the chitosan, it is better to get the right product and to accompany it with physical exercises and a good diet to give the best chance for this product to act as efficiently as possible to have.