Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Haim Shiba Medical Center have found that a dietary supplement called propionate leads to hormonal disorders, increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Write about it "Science and Life".
Propionates are salts or esters of propionic acid, they are added to sweets, including bread, cheeses, condiments and, in general, those products that need to be preserved without mold.
Propionates are considered safe, especially since propionic acid is secreted into the human body by gastrointestinal bacteria, dividing the plant fiber. Along with other short fatty acids, it has a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism. But how does propionic acid behave if it is ingested as a dietary supplement?
To answer this question, the scientists conducted two studies. First, the authors gave propionate to mice. The mice then increased the level of the hormone glucagon, which causes the liver to release blood glucose, the hormone noradrenaline, which not only controls blood pressure but also increases the amount of blood sugar and the level of a single regulatory protein which is involved in the metabolism of fatty acids. As a result, the blood sugar in the mice became larger and, after 20 weeks, the mice gained excessive weight and insulin resistance appeared in their tissues, which is one of the main signs of approaching type 2 diabetes.
The next experiment involved 14 healthy, overweight and non-diabetic people. Some of them received a gram of propionate with food (about how much we ate, whether we ate canned foods, convenience foods, pasta and other things) while others received a placebo. Four hours later, they did several blood tests.
A week later, participants in the experiment returned to the laboratory and switched roles: those who ate propionate for the first time received placebo and vice versa. In general, the image with hormones and blood sugar levels was similar to what occurred in mice. Blood glucose increased after eating, but those who ate with propionate returned to normal levels a little more slowly, and their insulin levels were also high, indicating that tissues do not absorb sugar so quickly.
In addition, the authors analyzed the medical data of 160 people who participated in another study, dedicated to the reduction of excess weight. It was found that among those 160 the level of propionate in blood was higher in those who had stronger insensitivity to insulin, and that if the level of propionate decreased, insulin sensitivity would return.
"However, to say with certainty that it is better not propionate, we first need studies with a large number of participants and secondly, it is desirable to understand the physiological mechanism that is involved here," concludes the publication.