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Dietary supplement boosts insulin sensitivity

Dietary supplements made of resistant starch can help improve the body's response to the sugar-processing hormone insulin.

Dietary supplement boosts insulin sensitivity

Dietary supplements made of resistant starch can help improve the body's response to the sugar-processing hormone insulin. Resistant starch refers to a group of starches that are partially resistant to digestion, thereby, passing through the intestines virtually intact. Therefore the starch's calories and carbohydrates are not available to the body, and it has a minimal effect on blood sugar. Loss of insulin sensitivity, also called insulin resistance, is a key step in the development of diabetes. Dietary supplement can improve sensitivity in healthy people by up to one-third, and a similar effect in people with full-fledged diabetes could have a significant beneficial effect on their health. Researchers from the University of Surrey in Guilford, UK, conducted a study with 10 healthy people, who consumed either 30 grams of the resistant starch supplement or the same amount of a supplement that did not contain resistant starch. They mixed the supplement with water and added it to milk or other drinks. After taking the supplement daily for four weeks, healthy people showed up to a one-third increase in insulin sensitivity. It was found that the study participants tolerated the supplement well. Resistant starch is thought to exert its effects because good bacteria in the colon break it down into short-chain fatty acids, which are then released into the circulation. These special fats are very different from the fatty acids people eat. While most strategies for increasing insulin sensitivity require major changes in diet and exercise, the above study shows that one can actually improve his/her health without having to change their lifestyle. The researchers are now planning to test the supplement in diabetic patients.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
September 2005
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