Mån 24 jun / År 42 / Nr 3 2024

Thylakoids – A Powerful Tool for Prevention of Obesity

Research made by Professor Charlotte Erlanson-Andersson et al at Lund University has shown that the chlorophyll-bearing substances found in spinach and green leaves can suppress the urge for sugar, salt and fat and thereby be used as a powerful tool in preventing obesity and related diseases.

Professor Charlotte Erlanson-Andersson and her colleagues have made a number of significant scientific discoveries concerning green plant thylakoids in relation to treatment of obesity. They’ve, for instance, shown that thylakoids as a food intake induces: pre-biotic microflora in the intestine, suppression of hunger hormones, release of satiety hormones and reduction of the transit rate in the intestine. And that the effects are immediate as well as long-term.

”The most important discoveries we’ve made are that thylakoids, the chlorophyll-bearing substances found in spinach and green leaves, suppress the urge for sweet, salt and fat, i.e. what we call hedonic hunger. This hunger must be curbed in order to handle today’s obesity. It’s an urge that can arise anytime and that hasn’t got anything to do with the body’s energy balance,” says Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Professor in Appetite Control at the Department for Experimental Medical Science, Lund University.

”We’ve also seen that thylakoids bind to intestinal cells on the mucosal side, leading to a reduced rate of intestinal absorption,” she adds.

Thylakoids influence the brain through the intestine, by activation of the gut-brain axis, in a way that enhances our ability to manage food restriction. Decreased food intake naturally leads to the well-known effects of loss of body weight and body fat, reduced blood lipids and blood glucose/insulin.

The thylakoids’ direct effects on body fat include increased fat oxidation, increased expression of genes involved in fat oxidation, decreased fat cell size and that they bind to dietary fat.

From Powder to Tablet
A few studies in the same field have been conducted by other laboratories, notably in India, but otherwise Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson’s research group is relatively alone about researching this field.

In their studies, they administered the thylakoids as a powder blended in different fruit juices. The powder is a complex product comprising hundreds of different proteins, pigments, anti-oxidants like carotenoids, as well as chlorophyll.

However, product development has now made it available as a tablet, called BioCloose, that can be ordered through e-commerce through an agreement with the company Thylabisco that owns the patents. The aim is to refine the product further, developing it into a pharmaceutical.

”It’s a difficult and rather awkward process to produce the powder. Our research now focuses intensely on trying to find out which of the substances in the complex mixture that are most potent. It’s the natural next step in developing the product into a pharmaceutical.”