Category Archives: Insulin

Insulin-boosting effects of natural extract fresh olive leaf

A robust new clinical trial has shown that Fresh Olive Leaf Extract has significant effects on insulin in men who are at risk of developing type II diabetes. The randomised cross-over double blind controlled clinical trial reveals olive leaf extract offers significant improvement in the action of insulin and the way it is secreted in overweight men. Type II diabetes is highest in overweight or obese people and occurs as a result of insulin not working effectively in the body. The findings, published in an international journal, could help the UK’s ageing and increasingly overweight population or “dia-risk” to help prevent onset of the disease.

The clinical trial was conducted at the Liggin’s Institute, based at The University of Auckland in New Zealand. The scientists monitored 47 overweight males who were at risk of developing type II diabetes. The study used Comvita’s Fresh Olive Leaf Extract, a black liquid which is made from the resilient, bitter-tasting leaves of the olive tree. The trial revealed that a 12 week course of the natural supplement improved insulin action to healthier levels. On average a 28% improvement in insulin secretion and a 15% improvement in insulin action was witnessed in the olive leaf group when compared to placebo.

The research suggests that a daily tablespoon of fresh olive leaf extract (or two capsules) holds promise for the millions of “Dia-risk” individuals in the UK as part of a preventative strategy against the onset of Type II diabetes. A condition which recent research suggests costs the NHS nearly £10 billion.

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Fresh Olive Leaf Extract has significant effects on insulin in men who are at risk of developing type II diabetes

Around 1 in 20 people in the UK are Type II diabetics and it is most likely to affect those with a BMI >30, although ethnicity also plays a part. It is also estimated that around 2% of people in the UK have type II diabetes, but are undiagnosed. Further millions of British adults and increasingly teenagers are “dia-risk”, meaning they are likely to develop the condition: such as those with an overweight or obese BMI, older people or those with a genetic predisposition.

Insulin is an essential tool in the body; it allows glucose to pass into the cells of the body to be used as energy. However in Type II diabetes (and to some extent the “dia-risk”) the pancreas cannot produce as much insulin as it needs to or this insulin can no longer be used effectively by the cells (known as insulin resistance). This means the glucose isn’t being used effectively in the body and remains in the blood leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

Diabetes Type II is a serious condition and many UK sufferers rely on prescribed drugs to treat their condition. This is not ideal as many common diabetic medications that are currently prescribed in the UK have been linked to unpleasant side effects such as sickness and diarrhoea – and serious health implications such as increased risk of heart failure.

“We are pleased to report that Olive Leaf was well tolerated by all participants with no major side effects,” Dr Ralf Schlothauer, Chief Technical Officer for Comvita, comments. “The study found on average a 15% improvement in insulin action, a very encouraging result.”

While we are very excited by the findings of the clinical trial, we would not advise any Type II diabetics to use olive leaf in place of medications prescribed by their doctor,” Simon Pothecary, UK spokesperson for Comvita comments “However the research holds promise for the millions of people who are at risk of developing the disease, perhaps they are overweight or there is a family history of the condition.”

While much research has focused on the health benefits of olive oil, new data regarding olive leaf is emerging. Active compounds found in olive oil called ‘polyphenolics’ have been identified, but the olive leaf contains these in much higher concentrations – around 30-40 times stronger.

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Pomegranate: the heart-healthy fruit

A new study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, has found that pomegranate juice can reduce key cardiovascular risk factors in overweight adults (1). While the fruit’s impressive antioxidant content has been credited with its success, this study reveals that there might be another secret to the fruit’s benefits.

pomegranate
Pomegranate can help to reduce insulin levels and blood pressure.

Pomegranate juice has already been shown to have some remarkable health benefits with clinical studies showing it can reduce blood pressure, improve blood sugar control and even reduce the thickness of arteries. These studies have attributed the heart-healthy effects of pomegranate to its extraordinarily high antioxidant value (2), which is certainly a huge benefit. However, this study looked at the effects of pomegranate juice on cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. Excessive levels of cortisol are linked to both high blood pressure and insulin resistance (3,4).

In addition to measuring cortisol levels, the researchers also measured several markers of heart disease, including blood pressure, arterial elasticity, insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.

The study was a randomised cross-over design, meaning that each volunteer essentially serves as his or her own ‘control’ making the study results more reliable. In this case, the male and female volunteers were randomly assigned to receive pomegranate juice or a placebo drink for 4 weeks. After a 1-week break, the groups were then swapped, so that everybody had been tested with both the pomegranate and the placebo drink.

At the end of the study, it was found that the pomegranate juice was linked with a significant reduction in blood pressure, as well as a decrease in insulin levels and insulin resistance. Interestingly, there was also a reduction in the cortisol levels of the juice drinkers, and an increase in levels of cortisone, which is the inactivated form of cortisol. It appears that pomegranate juice might actually boost health by preventing cortisone from being converted to active cortisol.

In short, the study suggests that the benefits of pomegranate juice and not simply a result of its impressive antioxidant content. It also appears to lower cortisol levels, which in turn has a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels.

Cardiovascular disease remains the UK’s biggest killer. According to the British Heart Foundation, this disease is responsible for one third of deaths of both men and women in Britain.

One of the biggest concerns about cardiovascular disease is that it can go undetected for many years, causing the illness to be labelled a ‘silent killer’. In fact, often the first symptom is a stroke or a heart attack meaning that sufferers may then face invasive but necessary treatments such as bypass surgery or angioplasty.

For this reason, small and simple measures to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease are invaluable. As positive results have been found by drinking as little as 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily (5), a daily serving of pomegranate juice might just be a change worth making.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC.

References

1. Catherine Tsang, Nacer F. Smail, S. Almoosawi, I. Davidson and Emad A. S. Al-Dujaili. (2012) Intake of polyphenol-rich pomegranate pure juice influences urinary glucocorticoids, blood pressure and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance in human volunteers.  J Nutr Sci, 1:9

2. Seeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, et al. (2008) Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. J Agric Food Chem 56, 1415–1422

3. Duclos M, Pereira PM, Barat P, et al. (2005) Increased cortisol bioavailability, abdominal obesity and the metabolic syndrome in obese women. Obes Res 13, 1157–1166.

4. Kidambi S, Kitchen JM, Grim CE, et al. (2007) Association of adrenal steroids with hypertension and the metabolic syndrome in blacks. Hypertension 49, 704–711.

5. 8. Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001 Sep;158(1):195-8.

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