For anyone looking to shed a few pounds, it’s a dream come true: a natural supplement that kicks the body into get-skinny-quick overdrive by accelerating weight loss with little effort. No eating less! No exercise! It's a miracle.
And, not surprisingly, celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz likes it too. The famous doctor has promoted many a miracle on his TV show — from green coffee beans, red palm oil, L-carnitine, raspberry ketone and many other fat-burning, belly-busting, metabolism-boosting products. The latest? Yacon syrup.
Oz claims that the natural sweetener is a metabolism "game changer" that boosts weight loss ... without having to suffer through tedious activities like adjusting your diet or exercising. In an unofficial study of the product, Oz had 60 audience members test yacon syrup by eating 1 teaspoon of it three times a day for four weeks; he also instructed the women not to alter their diet or exercise routines. The result? According to Examiner.com, 73 percent of the women lost an average of almost 3 pounds each, and 2 inches off their waists; and 68 percent of the women said they would recommend yacon syrup to their friends and family.
Yacon syrup comes from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant (Smallanthus sonchifolius), a staple indigenous to South America. Oz says its magic comes from high levels of prebiotics like inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
“FOS resist breakdown by enzymes in the human digestive system and reach the colon without being digested. This means that yacon syrup is very low in calories (about 20 calories per tablespoon). FOS also act as a soluble fiber, which increases stool bulk to help prevent and control constipation,” says Oz.
Yacon's FOS also help feed beneficial bacteria in the colon, he says, noting that studies have linked good bowel bacteria to anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting effects, and increasing their numbers may help maintain a healthy weight.
“Yacon may help control appetite and food cravings, helping people eat less," says Oz, adding that yacon has the potential to “help with metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol and diabetes.”
And the benefits don't stop there. “Yacon consumption also appears to increase absorption of dietary minerals, and may make calcium more bioavailable. Studies have shown this could help increase bone density and delay the progression of osteoporosis. Studies also show that neutraceuticals, especially fructans such as yacon, may increase the efficiency of the immune system, lower infection risk and reduce digestive allergies,” he says.
Sounds impressive. But aside from the Oz fans who participated in his “project,” we don’t have much science to back up the miracle. There was one 2008 study that concluded: “Yacon syrup is a good source of fructooligosaccharides and its long-term consumption produced beneficial health effects on obese pre-menopausal women with insulin resistance.” But as for its direct effect on metabolism, fat-burning and other suggestions offered by Oz, consider the jury still out.
What's important to remember is that most experts agree that “miracle” supplements that claim to change metabolism and burn fat without any other effort should be greeted with skepticism. The best way to lose weight is to decrease caloric intake and increase activity. But that’s not to say that a supplement can’t have a good placebo effect and help someone eat less and increase the desire to be more active — and at least this option is plant-based and natural.
Just don’t call it a miracle.
If you want to try it for yourself, Oz recommends one teaspoon of 100-percent pure yacon syrup before or with each meal. His site also notes that people who often suffer from diarrhea or loose stools may want to avoid yacon syrup, as it may cause diarrhea, bloating, flatulence and nausea.
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