Even though a very-low-fat diet, lower-glycemic-index diets, exercise, and weight control help prevent diabetes, further treatment seems to be necessary for people who won’t follow the above measures. For most of the drugs that are used to prevent or treat diabetes there are somewhat equivalent nutraceuticals which have less side effects.
Metformin is a medication that activates an enzyme called AMP-activated kinase, which seems to increase insulin sensitivity. There is some evidence that this activity is found in barley malt and brewers’ yeast.
Acarbose is a pharmaceutical that slows carbohydrate absorption and there are several natural products which function like Acarbose. Natural fibers such as glucomanan slow carbohydrate absorption, and guar gum has a similar effect. Chlorogenic acid seems to be responsible for the reduced diabetes risk seen with heavy coffee use and works in a way similar to Acarbose. An extract of green coffee beans is available. Alpha amylase inhibitors reduce the risk of diabetes and are derived from legumes. A legume extract called phaseolamin is available.
Orlisat is a pharmaceutical inhibitor of a fat enzyme called lipase that prevents fat absorption and reduces diabetes risk. Orlistat does not have a definite nutriceutical equivalent. There is some early evidence that there is similar activity in Cassia nomame extracts. Chitosan has not proven to reduce fat absorption sufficiently to increase insulin sensitivity.
Biotin in high doses effects pancreatic beta cells, liver cells, and skeletal muscle to improve glucose tolerance. In clinical and animal studies, biotin benefits sugar control in diabetics. Biotin is said to be nontoxic and doses may need to be pushed to from 9 to 16 mg. per day.
Magnesium in sufficient doses reduces the risk of diabetes and improves insulin sensitivity. Magnesium rich diets reduce the risk for developing diabetes but, they don’t do so well in the actual treatment of diabetes.
Chromium picolinate improves insulin sensitivity. Chromium tripicolinate at 1 mg. (1,000 mcg.) per day benefits glycemic control.
Calcium and vitamin D prevent secondary hyperparathyroidism and, thereby, improve insulin sensitivity. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is seen in people with insufficient exposure to sunlight, such as dark skinned people and the elderly.
Phytanic acid, a metabolite of chlorophyll, has theoretical benefit in diabetes. Bitter melon and cinnamon have the potential to benefit diabetes patients. A recent study has shown that cinnamon 1-6 gm. daily reduces fasting glucose of diabetics by 20%.
CONCLUSION: Nutraceuticals containing combinations of the above chemicals should be of benefit in preventing and controlling diabetes.
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