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Health News 13 - Diabetes
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Pine Bark Extract Enhances Action of Anti-Diabetic Medication

A recent clinical study shows that type II diabetes patients who continued to take their anti-diabetic medication further lowered blood sugar levels and increased cardiovascular function after supplementing with French maritime pine tree bark extract known as Pycnogenol®.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study printed in the October 2004 issue of Life Sciences, found that 77 diabetes type II patients who supplemented with 100 mg of Pycnogenol® for 12 weeks, during which a standard anti-diabetic treatment was continued, significantly lowered plasma glucose levels as compared to placebo.

“To the 17 million Americans living day to day with type II diabetes, this news is a welcome sign of the safe and effective natural alternative dietary supplement choices available to them like Pycnogenol®,” said Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D. Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Muenster and one of the authors of the study.  “The month of November marks American Diabetes Month and we're excited that this research coincides with this awareness outreach since we work diligently year round researching ingredients to find the most effective alternative therapies for patients with diabetes.”

According to Dr. Rohdewald, Type II diabetes, caused by a resistance to insulin, requires a careful daily health routine including blood sugar monitoring, physical exercise and counting carbohydrates.  Blood vessels are generally more constricted in diabetic people, often causing poor circulation. Several of the observed parameters in this new study suggest that Pycnogenol® significantly releases blood vessel constriction.  This super-strength antioxidant supports body-own mechanisms that lead to better blood flow.

Pycnogenol® is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France.  It's unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, offer extensive natural health benefits to diabetics suffering from high blood sugar and diabetic retinopathy. The extract has been widely studied for the past thirty-five years and has more than 120 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient. 

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Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) & R-Lipoic Acid Improve Insulin Action

Researchers report that the fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and the antioxidant R-alpha-lipoic acid act synergistically to improve the ability of insulin to escort glucose into cells. This was reported in a study published in the September 2003 journal Metabolism. 

Both CLA and R-Lipoic Acid have been shown to individually enhance glucose tolerance and insulin action in insulin-resistant, obese rats. Until now, however, no study has investigated the effect on insulin resistance when these two substances are combined.

In the current study, researchers sought to determine whether treatment with CLA and R-lipoic acid in combination would enhance glucose absorption to a greater extent than either substance used individually. The study authors administered either CLA, R-lipoic acid, or a combination of both nutrients to obese rats for 20 days at low or high doses. Whereas low-dose R-lipoic acid (10 mg/kg body weight) alone did not alter glucose metabolism, low-dose CLA (0.3 g/kg) induced a significant increase in insulin-triggered glucose transport, but only in certain muscles. Low-dose combination therapy, on the other hand, caused the greatest enhancement of insulin's ability to improve glucose transport in a wider range of muscles. In fact, there was a 50% reduction in protein carbonyls, a marker of tissue oxidative stress caused by free radicals. There was also a 33% reduction in muscle triglycerides.

The researchers concluded, "These findings support a significant interaction between low doses of CLA and R-lipoic acid for enhancement of insulin action on skeletal muscle glucose transport, possibly via reductions in muscle oxidative stress and in lipid storage."

Source:  Teachey MK, Taylor ZC, Maier T, Saengsirisuwan V, Sloniger JA, Jacob S, Klatt MJ, Ptock A, Kraemer K, Hasselwander O, Henriksen EJ. Interactions of conjugated linoleic acid and lipoic acid on insulin action in the obese Zucker rat. Metabolism. 2003 Sep;52(9):1167-74.

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DHEA Offers Benefits to People Suffering From Diabetes, Liver Injury and Colon Cancer

The hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which declines with age, may help prevent diabetes, liver injury and colon cancer, according to a number of studies conducted by Japanese researchers.

The researchers reported that DHEA decreased hyperglycemia in diabetic mice and that it improved the insulin resistance caused by aging or obesity in another animal model. They also point out that in humans, the lower the serum DHEA concentration the greater the occurrence of hyperinsulinemia in diabetes. According to the researchers, DHEA increases not only insulin sensitivity, but also insulin secretion.

Other studies indicate that DHEA can protect the liver against viral-caused injury. In one study, DHEA reduced liver injury by inhibiting several processes that lead to inflammation.

In addition, the scientists noted, DHEA would be a potential chemopreventive agent against colon cancer. In animals that are given a cancer-causing agent, DHEA has reduced the number of aberrant crypt foci, which are thought to precede the development of colon cancer.

According to the researchers, "Since DHEA has many beneficial effects experimentally, we should consider administration of DHEA in the future."

Source: Aoki K, Nakajima A, Mukasa K, Osawa E, Mori Y, Sekihara H. Prevention of diabetes, hepatic injury, and colon cancer with dehydroepiandrosterone. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 Jun;85(2-5):469-72.

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Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Can Lower Risk of Colds and Influenza Among People with Diabetes

Background: People with diabetes are more likely to develop infections compared with nondiabetics. This increased risk of infection may be related to nutritional deficiencies, which can lead to decreased immune function.  This study was conducted at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and published June, 2003 in the Annals of Internal Medicine

Research: The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 130 men and women (45 to 64 years of age) who took either a multivitamin/mineral supplement or a placebo daily for 12 months. One-third of the subjects had type 2 diabetes, and two-thirds were overweight or obese.

Results: After 12 months, the most significant findings were that 17 percent of the diabetic subjects reported infections (colds, influenza, or gastrointestinal infections), compared with 93 percent of those taking placebos. Furthermore, none of the diabetic subjects taking supplements missed a day of work, whereas 89 percent of the diabetic subjects taking placebos lost at least one day of work. Supplement use did not influence the risk of infections in non-diabetic subjects.

Implications: This study found that daily consumption of a multivitamin/mineral supplement significantly reduced the risk of colds, influenza, and gastrointestinal infections among people with diabetes. The researchers recommended, "A larger clinical trial is needed to determine whether these findings can be replicated not only in diabetic persons but also in any population with a high rate of suboptimal nutrition or potential underlying disease impairment."

Barringer TA, Kirk JK, Santaniello AC, et al, "Effect of a multivitamin and mineral supplement on infection and quality of life," Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003;138:365-371.

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Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) May be Helpful in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes

In a research study published April 2003 in the Journal of Nutrition, scientists indicate that Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may be helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes.  Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) refers to a group of naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats found primarily in beef, lamb, and dairy products. CLA is also formulated as a dietary supplement. Intriguing animal and human research suggests that CLA may play a beneficial role in maintaining normal blood sugar levels and decreasing body fat.

Study Procedure
In a double-blind study, 21 adult subjects with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive either a placebo (safflower oil) or mixed CLA isomers (6.0 gm CLA) daily for eight weeks.  The subjects were asked to not change their diets or activity habits during the study.  In addition to body weight, blood levels of CLA, glucose and leptin (a hormone influencing appetite) were measured throughout the study.  Isomers are molecules that contain the same atoms but in a slightly different arrangement.

Research Results
The researchers reported three benefits associated with CLA supplementation. First, 81 percent of the subjects (9 of 11) taking CLA benefited from decreases in fasting blood sugar, compared with only 20 percent (2 of 10) of those taking placebos. Second, higher CLA blood levels were associated with body weight loss. Third, higher CLA levels were associated with lower blood levels of leptin, which may have an effect on appetite. These changes were most closely associated with one particular isomer of CLA: t10c12-CLA.

CLA Study Conclusions
The positive effects observed in this study may partially explain why certain foods (e.g., dairy) have been associated with reduced body fat and improved blood sugar regulation. The researchers concluded that future studies are needed to further determine how CLA or various CLA isomers may affect glucose and lipid metabolism as well as insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Belury MA, Mahon A, Banni S. "The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomer,t10c12-CLA, is inversely associated with changes in body weight and serum leptin in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus," Journal of Nutrition,2003;133:257S-260S. 

View more info on CLA

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Fish Oils Help Battle Diabetes

The heart protective benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been frequently reported in the press in recent years, since studies have shown them to protect against athero­sclerosis and heart disease, possibly by reducing platelet aggregation. One par­ticular area that researchers have been interested in examining is the potential benefits of omega-3 on diabetes.

Researchers have found that fish oils improve glucose control, among other things. The latest findings from Louisiana State University indicate that omega-3 fish oils help improve insulin resist­ance, a pre-diabetic condition. The small study involved 12 overweight individ­uals predisposed to Type II diabetes, who were asked to supplement with 1.8 grams of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) daily for 12 weeks. Results showed that insulin function improved in 70% of the study participants, and significantly in 50% of them. These results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may help keep diabetes from developing.

People with Type II diabetes often have high triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure, which compound their risk of heart disease. Canadian scientists found that supplementing with omega-3 rich fish oil capsules (about 2.0 grams/day) for three months markedly lowered triglycerides in Type II dia­betes patients.1 Other study findings from Norway show that taking a fish oil supplement (3.4 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosa­hexaenoic acid combined) for 16 weeks lowered blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) significantly in obese people with hypertension with­out adversely affecting glucose control.2

  1. Diabetes Care 1996 May;19:463-67
  2. Annals of Internal Medicine 1995 Dec 15;123(12): 911- 918

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