A natural product called chitosan is derived from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exo-skeleton of shellfish like shrimp or crabs. While it has been in existence for millenia, its current form has just recently been synthesized. Chitosan is a naturally occurring substance that is chemically similar to the plant fiber called cellulose. Unlike plant fiber, however, chitosan is "magnetically" attracted to lipids and has the ability, acting like a "sponge", to significantly prevent fat in the digestive tract from being absorbed. Chitosan is not digestible, therefore it has no caloric value! No matter how much chitosan you ingest, its calorie count remains at zero.
Chitosan affects fat in the stomach before it has a chance to become metabolized. It dissolves in the stomach and converts to a gel which "traps" fat, thereby preventing its absorption and subsequent storage. Chitosan renders the fat useless to the body. Technically, it creates a "grease ball" out of excess fat which is then too large to be absorbed. Both the chitosan and the fat are excreted in the stool.
A report in the ARS Medicina (Helsinki, Aug-Oct. 1994) stated that individuals taking this substance lost an average of 8% body weight in 4 weeks. For a 200 pound person, this indicates a 16 pound weight loss, or 4 pounds per week. Ideally, if you neutralize fat after it enters your stomach, you spare your body from having to deal with that fat, and your body is better able to deal with stored fat.
Besides absorbing fat to promote weight loss, chitosan also inhibits bad cholesterol and boosts good cholesterol. It also promotes healing of ulcers and lesions. It has anti-bacterial and anti-candida action. Chitosan acts as an antacid. Chitosan may help to control high blood pressure. It may treat and prevent irritable bowel syndrome. Chitosan helps to prevent constipation. It is a calcium enhancer and bone strengthener. Chitosan also reduces blood levels of uric acid (which causes gout) and has been reported to have anti-tumor properties.
Chitosan may seem to be too good to be true. Can one product really accomplish all the marvelous things chitosan does and still be safe for human consumption? The answer is that chitosan has been safely used for more than two decades. Chitosan is a safe ingredient that is biodegradable and environmentally biocompatible.