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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine December 2000

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Controlling Diabetes
The Natural Way

by: Angela Pirisi

Page 1 of 2

Presently, we have at hand a growing number of possible ways to combat the problem of Type II diabetes without having to resort to dangerous drugs!

imageFood restriction and exercise, with a view to weight control, are by far the most well espoused concepts by physicians and dietitians. But research has been surfacing to demonstrate that a nutritive approach to diabetes may yield favorable results without the expense and adverse effects of intensive drug therapy. Studies have shown, for instance, the ability to decrease diabetes risk through dietary and supplemental means, such as fiber-rich cereal foods, magnesium, chromium picolinate, biotin, coenzyme Q10 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).(1)

CLA, in particular, is a fairly new therapy, which may serve well to solve the lose-weight-gain-weight dieting syndrome, and improve insulin sensitivity. A growing body of scientific evidence is pointing to CLA as an effective weapon in the war against diabetes and the related widespread obesity problem.

While studies to date have shown CLA to be effective preventive therapy for cancer, atherosclerosis and other diseases, the latest findings presented at the 220th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), August 2000, suggest a role for the compound in both glucose control and weight loss.

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Studies have shown the ability to decrease diabetes risk through dietary and supplemental means, such as fiber-rich cereal foods and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
CLA has the therapeutic potential to alter fat body mass and help manage insulin resistance. One study, carried out by investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, showed that CLA may help dieters to regain more muscle versus fat after they stop dieting. The study consisted of putting 71 obese subjects on a calorie-reduced diet and a moderate exercise program. In addition, 35 of them also took 3 grams of CLA daily (1 gram with each meal), while the other half of the group served as controls by taking a sunflower oil placebo. By the end of the six-month study period, both groups had shed about five pounds. However, while people generally gain about three times more fat than muscle (75% versus 25%) when their weight increases, the CLA group gained back more muscle and less fat, evening out the ratio to 50:50. Lead researcher, Dr. Michael Pariza, director of the university's Food Research Institute, suggests that CLA may work by blocking the function of the key enzymes involved in causing fat cells to expand, thus allowing fat cells to stay small. As such, says Pariza, CLA may prove beneficial as a weight management aid. Moreover, he explains, CLA also reduced fasting blood glucose levels and triglyceride levels. Since glucose levels usually surge after consuming a meal, reducing fasting levels are a good way to even out the highs and lows that diabetics aim to control. This research, however, did not draw any connection between CLA and actual weight loss.

A Norwegian study, whose results were also reported at the American Chemical Society meeting, goes even further by suggesting that CLA may induce fat mass loss and muscle mass gain, independently of diet or exercise. In the study, 60 overweight subjects were randomized into five groups and administered different daily doses of CLA or placebo. While none of the participants were allowed to diet, those taking a CLA supplement experienced a statistically significant reduction in body fat mass, with the most dramatic results being seen among the 3.4 grams and 6.8 grams groups. Increases in lean body mass occurred in all CLA user groups, but was only statistically significant in those taking the highest (6.8 g) dose. However, the researchers report that fat-reducing benefits did level off, and that no additional effect on body fat mass was achieved beyond 3.4 g CLA per day.

Other findings reported at the ACS meeting specifically examined CLA's potential as an adjunctive therapy for the effective management of diabetes. At Purdue University, Indiana, a study involved 22 confirmed diabetics taking 6.0 grams per day of CLA or placebo oil for eight weeks. Results showed that 64% (versus 40% of placebo) of the subjects who took CLA had improvements in their insulin levels, while 83% (versus 10% of placebo) of them had improved leptin counts. Overall, those on CLA showed a moderate reduction in fasting blood-glucose levels, a decrease in triglyceride levels, improvement in serum leptin levels and free fatty acids. Previous studies by the same researchers found that, in a group of male diabetic rats, CLA normalized impaired glucose tolerance. The study's lead author, dietitian Martha Belury, concluded that using a non-pharmacological approach, such as CLA, in combination with pharmaceutical therapy, could help to delay and/or manage diabetes. As well, she believes that it could help to reduce health care costs and the side effects of long-term drug use.

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