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  Chitosan  
 
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Chitosan has the unique ability to dissolve and bind to fats and cholesterol in the stomach. Because Chitosan is mostly indigestible, it can then prevent these lipids from being absorbed in the digestive tract. This can ultimately promote safe weight-loss and a reduction in cholesterol levels. Chitin and chitosan are also now being taken like acidophilus, FOS, and other supplements to speed the transit of foods through the digestive system and to promote the growth of beneficial live bacteria in the intestines. Chitin (pronounced kite-in) and chitosan (kite-o-san) are fibers derived from marine animals. Chitin is a polysaccharide-a string of sugar molecules-that are derived from sources like crab, lobster and shrimp shells, and marine coral, that are not eaten as foods. Chitin is chemically similar to cellulose and starch, the abundant plant fibers. It is used to make various other substances, including chitosan, which is derived from chitin by heating it with a chemical solution. Chitosan, has the advantage of being more soluble in water than chitin Scientists have intensively investigated the properties and uses of chitin, chitosan, and their derivatives - collectively they are the subjects of approximately 1,000 scientific studies and hundreds of patents.

Weight loss was the most dramatic result from a Helsinki Chitosan clinical pilot study. The subjects lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight in a 4 week period. [ARS Medicina, Helsinki, Aug-Oct, 1994]

Chitosan's primary mechanism of action is well established. It is known to differ from other polysaccharides in that it has a strong positive charge that lets it chemically bond with certain compounds, especially fats and cholesterol. Other mechanisms of action in the body are still being investigated. The ability to bond with fats and other substances is also the reason for many of chitin and chitosan's industrial uses. For example, spread on water chitin absorbs grease and other potentially toxic substances, which is why it is prominent in wastewater treatment processes.

Chitin and chitosan are nontoxic and free of side effects, although they share the same precautions for safe use that apply to other types of fiber. Thus, to prevent intestinal blockage they should always be taken with plenty of water. Also, these supplements can bind with essential fatty acids, fat-based vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and certain drugs, thus reducing these substances' absorption and effectiveness. Chitin and chitosan should be taken separately from EFA supplements and vitamins, and before a high-fat or high-calorie meal. Check with your doctor if you are taking any fat soluble medication. Although chitin and chitosan are considered non-allergenic, people with shellfish allergies should not take them, nor should pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The optimum dose is 1500 to 3000mg a half hour before a meal. Ascorbic acid (not buffered) seems to enhance its effects. Calorie restriction, especially fats, would have the same weight loss effect without the added cost. There are no significant sources of chitin from other food sources.
 

 
 

Chitosan can help with the following:
 
 
DietNot recommended for:
  A Raw Food/Fruitarian Diet
  A Vegetarian Diet
  A Vegan Diet

Organ Health

  Kidney Failure
 In a study of patients with chronic renal failure undergoing long-term hemodialysis 450 mg of chitosan 3 times a day for 12 weeks produced multiple benefits. Mean serum cholesterol went down 43% and mean serum hemoglobin increased from 5.8 to 6.8 g/dl in those patients who received the chitosan. Mean urea (from 75 to 45 mM) and creatinine (from 1. 001 to 0.875 mM) levels in serum showed significant reductions after 12 weeks of chitosan treatment. Compared with the control group, the treatment group reported significantly improved appetite, sleep and feeling of physical strength. No significant side effects were seen. (Jing SB. et al. J Pharm Pharmacol 1997;49:72 1-723.)
 
 


KEY
Highly recommended
Avoid absolutely







GLOSSARY

Acidophilus:  A microflora (good bacteria) that acts as a digestive aid and lives in your intestines helping your body fight disease.

Allergy:  Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.

Bacteria:  Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.

Cholesterol:  A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Essential Fatty Acid:  (EFA): A substance that the human body cannot manufacture and therefore must be supplied in the diet.

Lipid:  Fat-soluble substances derived from animal or vegetable cells by nonpolar solvents (e.g. ether); the term can include the following types of materials: fatty acids, glycerides, phospholipids, alcohols and waxes.

Milligram:  (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Stomach:  A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

Vitamin C:  Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.