Diabetes & Dietary Supplementation
Starchy carbohydrates are the most important source of calories in our diets. Starches are long chains of glucose and are provided in staple foods such as breads, pastas and cereals. In order for starches to provide energy to the body, they must be digested into small enough particles to be absorbed. The majority of this process occurs in the small intestine by the action of an enzyme called alpha- amylase.
Certain ingredients can greatly interfere with this process, including a white kidney bean extract that inhibits the activity of alpha-amylase. Psyllium contains a high amount of water-soluble fiber that swells in the digestive tract and slows the emptying of foods from the stomach, reduces surface area on foods that enzymes need to act on, and can create somewhat of a barrier between the gut wall and glucose molecules to reduce absorption.
These dietary supplements need to be taken with meals to be effective. They are most effective with meals containing starches; psyllium is useful with any carbohydrate-containing meals. The end result of either dietary supplement is a slowed or reduced release of sugars into the blood, as well as a reduced surge of insulin.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is probably best-known as the “universal antioxidant.” It is soluble in both water and fat, which allows it to exert its protective actions on virtually every tissue in the body. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) has been used outside the U.S. as an approved drug therapy for diabetic neuropathies since 1959.
Studies have shown that ALA can significantly reduce symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathies such as severe pain, weakness, burning and touch pressure. Some evidence also suggests that ALA may mimic insulin and signal cells to take in glucose from the blood.
Diabetes can develop as a result of genetic, environmental and/or auto-immune factors. We have the most control over the environmental factors. Recent epidemiological studies have made a connection between regions that receive less ultraviolet radiation (our primary source of vitamin D) and the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in populations living there.
It has also been observed that daily supplementation of vitamin D in infants during the first year of life is associated with a reduced incidence of type 1 diabetes later in life. Supplementing with Vitamin D3 daily may be warranted for those concerned with developing diabetes.