March 31, 2012
Cameroon Bush Mango Researcher Gets World Recognition
A wild fruit from the Cameroon forest has become a priced commodity in the United States and around the world thanks to the reputation of its seed as a food supplement to remedy obesity.
Though few people may have taken any notice of the nutritional value of the popular Ogbono soup, Irvingia gabonensis otherwise called Bush mango, African mango, Ogbono, Dikka nuts or Ndock has become a household name in the United States slimming ingredient market since it was mentioned on the Dr. Oz show.
This was on 13th September 2010, when Dr. Mehmet Oz in his Emmy Award-winning show described the African mango as a safe, effective and inexpensive weight loss alternative. He further qualified it as a “breakthrough supplement” and a “miracle in your medicine cabinet”. Similarly, one of the show’s leading medical contributors, Dr. Tanya Edwards, M.D. called the African mango, a “miracle pill”, after it helped her lose about 14 kilograms in one month.
This science breakthrough is from the research of Professor Julius Oben of the University of Yaounde I, a Nutritional Biochemist who has been working on obesity and obesity related complications since 1988.
Professor Julius Oben recently returned from the 10th International Conference on Functional Foods in Santa Barbara, California (March 13 – 15), where he was the invited keynote speaker. This international conference had participants from 25 countries and was organized by the US Functional Food Centre.
His paper entitled “The impact of the recently acquired GRAS [Generally Recognized as Safe] status of Cissus quadrangularis and Irvingia gabonensis on obesity related functional food research in Cameroon”discussed his research findings as well as efforts being made to find a lasting strategy for managing obesity which has become a worldwide epidemic.
“Like other soluble fibers, Ig [Irvingia gabonensis or Bush mango] seed fiber can bind to bile acids in the gut and carry them out of the body in the faeces, which requires the body to convert more cholesterol into bile acids, resulting in the lowering of blood cholesterol,” Oben told participants at the conference in his keynote presentation, describing one of the ways Bush mango remedies obesity.
Pr Oben clearly outlined the need for a multi-faceted approach in the management of obesity, which itself has diverse origins. Obesity results from an imbalance of energy, in which the intake is greater than the expenditure. This, in combination with genetic predisposition and environmental factors, generally brings about the difference in how much and how fast people put on weight.
In Oben’s opinion, the environmental component of obesity is not given as much attention as it deserves, reason why the metabolic/biochemical approaches to management has not been successful over the years.
“If obesity was simply as a result of an energy imbalance, then humanity that has been able to get human beings on the moon, would have found a solution by now,”Oben said, opening his 45-minute presentation.
Irvingia gabonensis and Cissus quadrangularis, another plant with remedies for obesity according to findings by Professor Oben, which both have been used as food material for many generations in Africa now have GRAS (Generally Recognized AS Safe) status in the United States. GRAS is an FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) designation that a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe by experts, and so is exempted from the usual Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) food additive tolerance requirements.
This makes Irvingia gabonensis and Cissus quadrangularis acceptable ingredients for use in the dietary/supplement industry worldwide. Their content of bioactive compounds give them the versatility of having an effect on multiple metabolic pathways including activity against lipase, amylase and glucosidase, which are enzymes known to increase the deposition of fat, hence promoting obesity.
As well as the above pathways, they have the ability to act as powerful antioxidants as well as modulate the expression of certain key lipogenic genes– leptin and adiponectin. Key environmental factors that affect our ability to become overweight and obese are also known to affect the action of Irvingia gabonensis and cissus quadrangularis.
In his presentation, Pr. Oben highlighted the negative impact of some carbonated drinks on the positive action of these plants, and concluded that some people are likely to benefit more than others when using these supplements. He also introduced the next generation of Cameroon herbs and spices that could have similar virtues and thus be useful in our continuous search for remedies to the obesity epidemic.
The remarks of the co-chair of the conference Dr. Danik Martirosyan were very complementary to ongoing research in Cameroon. He was very impressed with Functional Food research in Cameroon and the fact that Cameroonian researchers are positively using their natural resources and rich biodiversity to the good of humankind. This he said can be seen in the numerous publications in international journals on topics ranging from the extraction, purification and use of plant derived materials and functional foods.
Professor Oben’s innovative research on Irvingia gabonensis was initially patented in 2007, and has since had two further patents issued. These patents have greatly helped in linking this research to Cameroon, which might have otherwise been credited to some other researchers.
The content of bioactive compounds in the patented material (IGOB131- Irvingia gabonensis Oben 131) confers the beneficial properties of Irvingia gabonensis that has found a niche in the $40 billion weight loss market in the United States. It is presently being marketed for the purpose of weight loss in five different continents, with over 53 companies including this material in their weight management formulations.
As well as bringing about a reduction in body weight which most overweight and obese people desire, IGOB131 brings about a reduction in the level of their LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) or bad cholesterol, triglyceride and fasting glucose levels.
Its application therefore goes far beyond weight loss, and is currently prescribed by nutritionists and medical personnel for the management of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of all of the above mentioned abnormalities.
Article source Cameroon Post Online, posted on The Cameroon News under Cameroon Education