25 Supplements To Lower Blood Sugar: Part III

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (DHA+EPA):

It is already known that a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids contributes to insulin resistance. When omega 3 fats are part of the diet, genes for insulin receptor signaling are upregulated. (96) Predictably, serum omega 3 levels are negatively correlated with diabetes. In those with the disease, serum omega 3 levels are markedly lower. (97) In follow-ups of long term populated-based studies, higher omega 3 serum levels are associated with a significantly decreased risk of developing diabetes. (98)

In healthy elderly adults, an experimental diet high in fish plus 15 ml of sardine oil daily increased insulin sensitivity notably, in addition to reducing markers of inflammation. (99) Glucose, insulin, and a model assessment for insulin resistance were reduced by 11.4%, 8.4%, and 21.8% respectively in women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which predisposes this group to type II diabetes. (100)

Using fish oil to mitigate hyperglycemia during diabetes has generated mixed results. In a placebo-controlled study, the group administered 3 capsules of omega 3 fish oil containing 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA moderately lowered fasting glucose and significantly lowered HbA1c levels by the second visit at 90 days. Compared to the other experimental groups in this group which included an alpha lipoic acid group and a vitamin E group, the fish oil group experienced the maximum reduction. (101) A study of similar design also noted a 0.75% decrease in HbA1c levels in the fish oil supplemented group in comparison to the 0.26% increase in the control group after 2 months. (102)

Conversely, null to slightly negative effects on fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity were reported with fish oil treatment in diabetic subjects. (103-104) Fortunately, there is a good explanation for this and these possible aversive effects can be avoided. There is a severe depletion in the antioxidant capacity of diabetics compared to normal subjects due to the high rate of oxidative stress in the disease.  (105) Other than the obvious concern about pre-oxidized omega 3 fish oils given in the studies, it must be mentioned that once in the body, omega 3 fatty acids can  undergo oxidation if not counteracted by antioxidants, primarily vitamin E as well as selenium. In the presence of unchecked oxidation – which can easily occur from the very high amounts given during many studies (>3g), insulin signaling is deleteriously affected, leading to greater insulin resistance and elevated fasting glucose levels (106), which is what is sometimes observed in diabetics receiving supra-physiologic doses of omega 3.  Moderate DHA concentrations alleviate lipid peroxidation and contrarily, high DHA induces oxidative stress and drains antioxidant reserves (vitamin E). (107) When vitamin E accompanies fish oil treatment, the omega 3-induced decline in insulin sensitivity is rapidly reversed. (108)

Another possible hindrance for omega 3’s potential effectiveness is a lack of physical activity. Omega 3 fatty acids confer benefits to insulin resistance (as well as cardiovascular protection) only when regular physical activity is included; without it, the association disappears. (109) One of omega 3’s mechanisms in promoting glucose control involves increasing GLUT4 expression, which helps to efficiently transport glucose to muscle cells, clearing excess from the blood. (110) Activation of GLUT4 occurs during muscle contraction, otherwise known as physical activity (walking, jogging, strength training, etc).  Without even light exercise, the GLUT4-mediated glucose uptake cannot be expressed by omega 3 supplementation alone. To experience the insulin-sensitizing effect of omega 3, some form of exercise is needed.

Lastly, omega 3 fatty acids can only exert their anti-inflammatory, insulin-sensitizing properties when it is in a favorable ratio with dietary omega 6 fatty acid intake. Since both fatty acids are metabolized by the same enzymes, there is competition favoring omega 6’s absorption unless the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is 4:1 or less. Omega 3 supplementation may continue to be ineffective in controlling glucose if there is an abundance of omega 6 dietary sources – vegetables oils, grain-based meats, wheat products, soy, corn, fried food, etc. Simple dietary changes such as limiting processed food, cooking with oils lower in omega 6 (e.g., olive oil, red palm oil, coconut oil, etc.), switching to grass-fed meat, and cutting grain intake will make a substantial impact in adjusting the omega 3-omega 6 ratio to allow omega 3 fatty acids to function properly. (111)

Oxaloacetate:

Despite its intimidating name, oxaloacetate is a completely nontoxic naturally-occurring substance found in apples, bananas, spinach, and peas … albeit in miniscule accounts. (12)

In 1968, sodium oxaloacetate was evaluated for its antidiabetic effects by Japanese researcher Kiyohiko Yoshikawa. Surprisingly, subjects – both type I and type II diabetics – responded positively to treatment. Specifically, oxaloacetic acid was found to be effective in all of the 10 Type I patients and in 6 of 11 Type II patients. (13) Considering how well oxaloacetate worked not only in diabetics with a longstanding condition, but mainly in Type I diabetics suggests that oxaloacetate regulates glucose through stimulating islet beta cells, which is desperately needed in those suffering from Type I diabetes.

A much more recent case study involving a 73 year old woman with difficult to treat Type II diabetes revealed a 23% and 34.5% drop in fasting glucose levels and post-meal glucose levels after a meal respectively. This significant improvement was achieved at the end of a 70 day study after beginning supplementation with 100mg oxaloacetic acid and gradually increasing that amount to 300mg (one to three capsules of benaGENE, which also contained 100mg ascorbic per capsule) daily. Notably, this woman was taking Diaprel MR, sustainedrelease gliclazide, Merckformin, and Avandamet in attempt to control her glucose spikes before introducing benaGene. With the addition of (mainly) oxaloacetic cid, this woman was able to attain lower glucose levels than what her diabetes drugs were able to manage. On top of that, her Merckformin dosage was able to be lowered from 1000mg to 850mg during the study.  (14)

Resveratrol:

This plant-derived polyphenol and now infamous antixoxidant has beneficial effects on those with poor glucose control. One gram of resveratrol given daily caused major declines in fasting glucose, HbA1c levels, insulin, and insulin resistance whereas most values in the placebo group tended to worsen in a total of 66 diabetic subjects already on standard therapy. (92) In this study, the reduction of HbA1c was comparative to metformin, the gold standard of diabetic drugs. Another study (93) observed a decrease in insulin resistance with only 10mg of resveratrol without the added benefit of a change in insulin values that was achieved in the study mentioned just previously, which is likely due to the fact that 10mg of resveratrol is a miniscule dose. Using a more moderate dose in between the two extremes also demonstrated an improvement in glucose control. (94) Resveratrol has shown success in enhancing insulin sensitivity and stabilizing post-meal glucose in prediabetic elderly individuals at high doses (1 – 2grams). (95)

Taurine:

This amino acid lowers blood sugar through regulating genetic signaling of insulin. (6) In the presence of taurine, insulin sensitivity is heightened, especially in times it may otherwise be compromised such as in high sugar diets for example. As an antioxidant, it also has a protective effect on pancreatic beta cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative damage has a prominent role in the pathogenesis and worsening of diabetes by causing dysfunction in highly susceptible beta cells, which in turn causes a decreased capacity for insulin production. (7)

In a rat study, taurine demonstrated significant protection against a high fructose diet, suppressing insulin resistance by 56%. (8) When .5g (500mg) was administered twice daily to diabetic patients, requirements for insulin had to be reduced after 10 to 12 days due to the naturally enhancing effect of taurine on natural insulin. (9) Effects will undoubtedly be more potent in vegetarian diets or diets low in fish and animal protein as taurine is found naturally in meats and seafood.

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(References in last section)

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