Two plant extracts discovered to slash blood sugar spikes
(Naturalhealth365) Although it is normal for blood glucose to rise a bit after meals, excessive and repeated elevations – ‘blood sugar spikes’ – are cause for concern. In fact, short-term effects include impaired concentration and altered mood, while long-term consequences – such as cardiovascular disease, accelerated kidney disease and raised cancer risk – can be potentially life-threatening.
Of course, the really good news is that recent research supports the ability of extracts from two natural nutrients – maqui berries and cloves – to reduce damaging blood sugar spikes.
Warning: excessive insulin in the blood can have grave consequences
Glucose levels increase after meals, which necessitates the release of insulin to escort glucose into cells in order to produce energy.
But increasing age, a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars can lead to insulin resistance, in which the hormone no longer works as effectively. This causes glucose levels to rise, which in turn spurs the pancreas to release still more insulin to manage the glucose.
This “vicious cycle” can create excessive amounts of insulin in the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia plus much more serious conditions like, cancer.
Hyperinsulinemia can open up a veritable Pandora’s box of ailments, including type 2 diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and chronic inflammation. Excessive insulin can also trigger atherosclerosis, excessive fats in the blood and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
In addition, high levels of insulin promote rapid cell division, while elevated levels of blood sugar provide nourishment for the growth of tumors – creating a sort of “perfect storm” for the development of cancer.
In fact, hyperinsulinemia more than doubles the risk of breast cancer, and raises risk of stomach cancer by 100 percent and risk of colon cancer by 42 percent.
But it is the statistics on endometrial cancer that are most alarming. Hyperinsulinemia raises the risk an astonishing 45-fold.
(Alert: while doctors routinely test for fasting levels of glucose and insulin, they often don’t take into account the after-meal – or post-prandial — levels. As a result, dangerously high levels of insulin and glucose may go undetected for years, by which time serious damage may already have occurred).
It’s official: Maqui berries can help control insulin and blood sugar spikes after meals
In a study published in Panminerva Medicine, participants who were experiencing after-meal glucose spikes were divided into two groups and given either 200 mg of maqui berry extract or placebo. They were then served a meal calculated to precipitate a sugar spike.
One hour after the meal, the post-prandial glucose levels in the maqui berry group only rose to 98 mg/dL. This was a substantial 15 percent lower than the 115 mg/dL experienced by the placebo group one hour after the meal.
Although the placebo group’s glucose peak occurred an hour after eating, the maqui berry group’s glucose took two hours to peak — and only rose to 107 mg/dL.
The maqui berry extract had an even more pronounced effect on blood insulin levels. The placebo group shot up to 25.33 micromoles per milliliter after an hour, while levels in the maqui-berry extract group rose more slowly, to only 11.22 uU/ ml – a remarkable 56 percent lower.
The takeaway: maqui berry extract can delay glucose absorption and help “even out” the rollercoaster of after-meal insulin and glucose levels.
The researchers also found that 180 mg a day of maqui berry extract for 90 days lowered hemoglobin A1c – a measurement of glucose levels over several months.
How do maqui berries work to lower blood sugar?
Maqui berries – botanically known as Aristotelia chilensis – are native to southern Chile. Also called wineberries, these succulent fruits feature intense, dark purple coloration – evidence of their high levels of anthocyanins, disease-fighting natural plant pigments.
Maqui berries are particularly high in a group of anthocyanins known as delphinidins, which have impressed researchers with their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Their delphinidin content allows maqui berries to not only fight inflammation and oxidative damage in the tissues, but to help prevent the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in arteries.
Delphinidins control blood sugar spikes by stimulating and promoting the action of a blood sugar and insulin-lowering substance called glucagon-like peptide, or GLP-1. The substance delays the emptying of the stomach, keeping glucose there longer and causing it to reach the small intestine more slowly.
Cloves can partner with maqui berry extract to lower blood sugar
Cloves, the fragrant, spicy dried flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum plant, are commonly used in baking and as flavoring agents. Rich in beneficial polyphenols, cloves have potent antioxidant capabilities and antimicrobial qualities. And both human and animal studies have supported their ability to lower glucose after meals.
Research has shown that cloves accomplish this by blocking the action of glycogen phosphorylase, which releases glucose into the blood from the liver and the muscles. In one double-blind placebo-controlled study, researchers examined the effect of a clove extract on two groups of participants – one with normal glucose levels and one with elevated glucose.
Both groups were given 250 mg of clove extract daily for 30 days – and both experienced lower post-prandial glucose after 12 days. By the end of the study, after-meal glucose levels were the same as levels measured before the participants had eaten – a remarkable result.
Not only were cloves effective in lowering blood glucose, but they did it without causing levels to drop dangerously low (as some pharmaceutical blood sugar-lowering drugs are liable to do).
The takeaway: blood sugar and insulin spikes can wreak havoc on the body. But extracts from both maqui berries and cloves can help suppress these dangerous elevations – without toxic side effects.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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