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Is Camu Camu Good for Weight Loss?

The camu camu fruit is a small, sour-tasting fruit native to the Amazon rainforest, and along with acai and maqui berries, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous superfoods that hail from South America. Sold in powdered form in the US, camu camu is known for its extremely high vitamin C content—in fact, research shows that camu camu contains even more vitamin C than acerola which is often marketed as a top source of vitamin C. But, aside from providing a mega dose of vitamin C, camu camu powder has also shown promise as a weight loss aid.

In a groundbreaking study investigating the potential weight loss benefits of camu camu, researchers from Université Laval in Canada put two groups of mice on a high-fat, high-sugar diet, which is known to promote weight gain, while a baseline control group was fed a low-fat, low-sugar diet. During the eight-week study, half of the mice on the weight gain promoting diet were also given camu camu extract each day, while the other half was not.

The results, which were published in the journal Gut in 2018, were startling: the camu camu group gained 50 percent less weight than the controls, despite being fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet. In fact, the weight gain profile of the mice in the camu camu group was similar to that of the baseline control group.

The researchers believe the anti-obesity effect of camu camu are linked to the ability of camu camu to increase the basal metabolic rate of the mice. The basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is essentially the amount of energy the mice would burn if they were just sitting around doing nothing.

In addition, the mice in the camu camu group had healthier blood glucose levels and decreased insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, which is associated not only with obesity but also the onset of type 2 diabetes, refers to the reduced ability of cells to respond to insulin, a hormone that transports glucose out of the bloodstream.

All of these beneficial effects were accompanied by major changes in the intestinal microbiota of the animals, including a proliferation of Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria and a significant reduction of Lactobacillus bacteria. An abundance of A. muciniphila bacteria has been associated with improved metabolic health in overweight and obese adults in earlier studies.

Intrigued by these changes in the gut microbiota of their mice, the scientists also transplanted gut bacteria from the camu camu-fed mice into the intestines of germ-free mice that didn't have an intestinal microbiome. This temporarily and partially replicated the benefits seen in the camu camu rodents in the first part of the study. This seems to indicate that the reorganisation of the gut microbiome is at least in part responsible for the benefits of camu camu.

Camu camu powder

But, before you rush to buy camu camu powder, it is important to keep in mind that research on the potential weight loss benefits of this superfood powder is still in its infancy, and more studies are still needed, especially large-scale clinical trials involving human subjects.

However, if you are eager to lose weight and want to give camu camu powder a try, despite the lack of large-scale clinical trials, there are tons of camu camu recipes out there that can help you incorporate this vitamin C rich superfood powder into your diet. Some of the best ways to reap the potential benefits of camu camu powder include sneaking it into smoothies, incorporating it into energy bar recipes, and adding it to salad dressings.

  1. F. Anhe et al (). Treatment with camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) prevents obesity by altering the gut microbiota and increasing energy expenditure in diet-induced obese mice. Gut. Published Online: 31 July 2018.
  2. Press Release: Amazonian fruit prevents obesity in overfed mice. Université Laval, August 30, 2018.
  3. M. Dao et al (2016). Akkermansia muciniphila and improved metabolic health during a dietary intervention in obesity: relationship with gut microbiome richness and ecology. Gut, 65(3):426-36.
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