Strategies to keep blood glucose on track

Maintaining optimal blood sugar levels is a requirement for individuals with diabetes; however, there are populations of consumers that are increasingly impacted by unhealthy lifestyle choices, says Frutarom's Yannick Capelle

Blood glucose (blood sugar) is an essential measure of health and well-being. Glucose is a key source of energy for all tissues, so blood glucose levels directly affect how energetic we feel or how hungry we are. Several interacting systems regulate blood sugar to maintain the level within the narrow range that is necessary for our body to function correctly. Blood glucose is directly affected by the foods we eat.

Maintaining optimal blood sugar levels is a requirement for individuals with diabetes. However, there are populations of consumers that are increasingly impacted by unhealthy lifestyle choices — lack of exercise, poor diet, sleep deprivation, for example — so much so that epidemic numbers of people now struggle to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Above normal blood-glucose concentration, common in these populations, is called “prediabetes.” It is estimated that as many as 40% of 40–74 year olds have the condition in the US, and more than 60 million in Europe. Approximately 30% of the people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder affecting an estimated 150 million individuals worldwide.1

The incidence of children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. Although glucose provides vital energy for the body, persistently elevated concentrations of glucose in the blood negatively impact the health of blood vessels, the heart, the kidneys and nerves. Although critical in both adolescent and adult populations, the damage to growing children can impair mental function and development. Uncontrolled diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, kidney failure and amputations in the Western population.

Nutrition plays a vital role in the management of prediabetes and diabetes as well as associated complications. Careful and consistent lifestyle modifications, such as menu and recipe planning, can be key to making the gradual and necessary changes for life-long health.

An Ancient Treasure, Scientifically Proven

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a low-growing weed distinguished by tiny, thick, shiny leaves. As a food, it is juicy, mild tasting and makes a pleasant and nutritionally sound addition to both cooked dishes and raw salads. Purslane has a long tradition of medical use, particularly in Near Eastern folk medicine. Ancient physicians, including Hippocrates and Galen, extolled purslane’s virtues. In addition to traditional cultural use, modern scientific research has validated purslane’s folk uses by demonstrating it to be not only rich in valuable nutrients but clinically important for the support of healthy blood glucose levels.

Results from a recently published study of the vascular endothelial cells of diabetic mice indicate that purslane could ameliorate microvascular complications by inhibiting inflammation.2,3 Vascularity concerns in the lower extremities put persons with diabetes at risk from increasing inflammation, decreased circulation and loss of feeling in the limbs. Providing support in this context to diminish inflammation can have a positive health impact on prediabetic and diabetic patients, particularly as they age.

Preclinical studies in animal models also confirm that purslane could positively affect blood-glucose metabolism. Compounds in purslane help to increase serum insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, while decreasing blood glucose and free fatty acids, thus improving glucose tolerance as well as helping to reduce body weight.2,4

Based on anecdotal data and preclinical data, Frutarom has developed a scientifically supported, highly concentrated purslane herb extract, Portusana (EFLA 308). Portusana has been shown in vitro to support blood glucose metabolism by acting on three key mechanisms (Figure 1):

  • glucose absorption: Portusana significantly reduces intestinal glucose absorption in Caco-2 cells, indicating a beneficial effect on the glycemic load of food in the body5
  • cellular glucose update: Portusana significantly and dose-dependently stimulates glucose uptake into the cells, both in the presence and absence of insulin
  • insulin sensitivity: Portusana modulates the nuclear receptor PPARγ (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma), a receptor regulating glucose metabolism; this action results in increased insulin sensitivity and decreased blood glucose levels.5

Figure 1: Portusana’s triple mode of action.

Consistent Quality

The quality and consistency of the raw material, as well as cutting-edge extraction and refining technologies, are critical to ensure the uniqueness of herbal extracts and efficacy of a product. For this reason, Frutarom carefully controls the quality of Portusana throughout the manufacturing process, from raw material sourcing to final product.

Looking Ahead

When it comes to health and disease prevention, consumers are increasingly seeking natural solutions as alternatives or support to prescription medications. According to a recently published US report, the market value for nutritional ingredients targeting diabetic management was calculated to be $126 million in 2012, and is predicted to grow to $240 million in 2019. Experts state that healthy blood sugar is an important and relevant topic for consumers. However, the hurdle remains in educating consumers on healthy eating and blood sugar management, the two critical parts of the equation. Proven efficacy of a product is essential to gain consumer attention and trust. Portusana, with its demonstrated clinical evidence, is an ideal ingredient for innovative applications in the area of blood glucose management.

References

  • 1. International Diabetes Federation: www.idf.org.
  • 2. A.S. Lee, et al., Am. J. Chin. Med. 40(3), 495–510 (2012).
  • 3. A.S. Lee, et al., Int. J. Mol. Sci. 13(5), 5628–5644 (2012).
  • 4. L. Shen and F. Lu, CJIM 9(4), 289–292 (2003).
  • 5. T. Perrinjaquet-Moccetti, presentation at the 57th International Congress and Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (Geneva, Switzerland, 16–20 August 2009).

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