Life Extension Magazine February 2014
Suppress Blood Sugar Without Drugs
By Eduardo Vasquez
Natural Ingredient #2:
Sorghum, a grass plant eaten in Egypt some 4,000 years ago and now cultivated in Africa and Asia, complements the sugar control benefits of mulberry by further improving insulin sensitivity and reducing gluconeogenesis, the creation of excess sugar molecules in the liver.19,37,38
At the earliest stages of starch digestion, sorghum inhibits the alpha-amylase enzymes that break down starch into sugar for absorption.39,40 This means that less starch ends up as sugar in your bloodstream. Sorghum has also been shown to reduce the digestibility of starch molecules thus minimizing uptake as sugar.41
Researchers have recently discovered another mechanism behind sorghum’s ability to reduce blood sugar levels. Sorghum activates the beneficial metabolic “thermostat” called PPAR-gamma. In the body, PPAR-gamma is a receptor that regulates glucose metabolism.38 When sorghum activates PPAR-gamma, glucose is removed from the bloodstream and more effectively utilized by muscle cells and the liver.38 PPAR-gamma also reduces the over-production of insulin by the pancreas, causing blood sugar levels to drop without an increase in insulin secretion.38
Sorghum extract appears to target PPAR-gamma to help support blood sugar levels somewhat differently than “glitazone” drugs. While glitazone drugs activate existing PPAR-gamma, sorghum increases its genetic expression, which then naturally results in more beneficial PPAR-gamma in the body’s tissues.38 More PPAR-gamma might equal better blood sugar control.
Sorghum provides another important benefit—it has been shown to reduce body fat. In an experimental study involving a high-fat diet, sorghum resulted in reductions of both blood sugar and insulin. The animals that were fed sorghum lost body fat and had reduced blood levels of lipids.38 Animals not receiving sorghum did not show the notable drops in blood sugar and insulin.38
This weight loss effect may be due in part to sorghum’s inhibition of fat cell development—an effect opposite to that produced by PPAR-activating drugs.42,43 Further research needs to better clarify if sorghum has potent weight-loss effects in adult humans.
Sorghum Reduces Excess Sugar Production In The Liver
Your liver can significantly raise your blood sugar level by producing excess glucose even though there is already enough sugar in your bloodstream.
Sorghum slows down the liver-induced gluconeogenesis—a process that can be especially problematic for diabetics.19 The result is less new glucose entering the blood.19 This beneficial mechanism of controlling sugar production in the liver is similar to the anti-diabetes drug metformin.30
In experimental studies, sorghum not only reduces the amount of blood sugar entering the bloodstream, but helps improve performance on glucose tolerance tests.19 One such study gave sorghum to both healthy and experimentally-induced diabetic animals, while another group of diabetic animals were treated only by the anti-diabetic drug glyburide, which acts by increasing insulin secretion.19
Both the sorghum group and the glyburide group had reduced glucose levels, bringing glucose tolerance test results down to the healthy levels seen in non-diabetic animals.19 Sorghum, however, did not raise insulin levels like the sulfonylurea drug did.19
Excess insulin levels are associated with increased disease and mortality risk, including cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.1,3 This experiment showed that sorghum provided glucose control similar to the prescription sulfonlyruea drug glyburide without boosting insulin levels.19
Other research has shown that a compound found in sorghum reduces hemoglobin A1c, a critical marker of long-term glucose control.44,45
Natural Ingredient #3:
Phloridzin is a natural polyphenol heavily concentrated in the skin of an apple. Phloridzin lowers blood sugar and enhances insulin sensitivity in several unique ways that complement the actions of mulberry and sorghum extract.23,46-48
Phloridzin, has been used in diabetes research and has a low incidence of side effects.49
Phloridzin Inhibits SGLT1 And SGLT2
One of the ways in which phloridzin reduces sugar in your blood is to inhibit the “carrier proteins” that absorb glucose from your intestine and kidney.46 By stopping these carrier molecules from absorbing sugar into your bloodstream, the sugar is safely passed out of the body without being used.
Phloridzin inhibits two of these sugar carrier molecules called SGLT1 and SGLT2.46 Blocking SGLT1 prevents glucose absorption from the intestine, while blocking SGLT2 prevents it from being returned to the blood from urine forming in the kidney.
Phloridzin primarily inhibits SGLT1 in the intestine, thereby preventing glucose from being absorbed and entering the bloodstream. Eventually, the undigested sugar is flushed away.47
Inhibiting SGLT1 lowers the glycemic impact right from the beginning of the digestive process and reduces the dangerous after-meal glucose spike that’s associated with increased cardiovascular risk.17 Since phloridzin blocks sugar uptake from the intestine, the sugar never gets a chance to spike in your blood following a meal.47 Experimental data show that phloridzin causes significant reductions in postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar levels, with a reduction in the excessive drinking and urination that are typical in diabetes.46
Phloridzin normalizes blood glucose in experimental models of diabetes, restoring insulin sensitivity in cells and living tissues.23,46-48 Phloridzin also inhibits SGLT2 in the kidney, but to a far lesser extent than many pharmaceutical drugs currently undergoing intensive research and development.49 Phloridzin has been shown to decrease food consumption and body weight in diabetic animals.46 Future research needs to evaluate if phloridzin’s weight loss effects are also effective in humans.
As we age, most of us experience rising blood sugar levels that cause or contribute to the development of degenerative disease.1
Using data collected from around the world, researchers have identified three natural glucose management ingredients: mulberry leaf extract, sorghum extract, and phloridzin. When combined, these plant extracts offer a broad spectrum of glucose control mechanisms.
Mulberry leaf extract contains the compound DNJ that impedes sugar-starch from being broken down as readily by the alpha-glucosidase enzyme.24 Additionally, mulberry reduces the formation of excess glucose in the liver.29
Another way that mulberry extract lowers blood sugar levels is by stimulating the sugar transport molecule known as GLUT4, a similar mechanism manifested by the anti-diabetes drug metformin.21,35 GLUT4 beneficially facilitates glucose uptake by critical cells and tissues of the body for energy.
Sorghum is a grass found in Asia that naturally activates PPAR-gamma thereby regulating glucose metabolism.38 Sorghum can reduce the amount of excess sugar molecules that your liver creates (gluconeogenesis), which further limits the amount of sugar entering your bloodstream.19
Phloridzin, which is found in the bark of certain fruit trees, inhibits sugar carrier proteins SGLT1 and SGLT2.46 Both SGLT1 and SGLT2 are the intense focus of new drug development. By inhibiting the activity of these two sugar carrier molecules, phloridzin impedes absorption and promotes elimination of sugar from the body.23,46-48
Combined, mulberry leaf extract, sorghum extract, and phloridzin work on numerous key mechanisms to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood glucose levels, safely escort glucose out of the body, and reduce the creation of new glucose in the liver.
If your fasting glucose blood level is over 85 mg/dL, hemoglobin A1c over 5.0%, or a glucose tolerance test reads over 120 mg/dL, these three nutrients would be an important addition before every carbohydrate-containing meal.
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