If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you may want to consider snacking on nuts to treat the condition. Supplementation with the amino acid arginine, commonly found in almonds and hazelnuts, could help to improve glucose metabolism by as much as 40%, according to new research in mice. The study shows that supplementation with the amino acid significantly improves glucose metabolism in both insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant metabolisms.

More than 371 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, of whom 90% are affected by lifestyle-related diabetes mellitus type 2 (type 2 diabetes). In new experiments, researchers from the University of Copenhagen working in collaboration with a research group at the University of Cincinnati, USA, have demonstrated that the amino acid arginine, found in salmon, eggs, and nuts, improves glucose metabolism significantly in both lean (insulin-sensitive) and obese (insulin-resistant) mice.

“In fact, the amino acid is just as effective as several well-established drugs for type 2 diabetics,” says postdoc Christoffer Clemmensen. He has conducted the new experiments based at Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. He is currently conducting research at the Institute for Diabetes and Obesity at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, the German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich.

Even better than nuts are less energy-dense foods such as salmon and eggs, said Clemmensen.

Clemmensen said he expects similar results in human trials. “However, a key issue for future studies is to explore what doses of arginine can be tolerated by humans and to confirm that there are no adverse effects associated with arginine supplementation. It may be that the best strategy is to create a ‘dietary cocktail,’ including several nutrients all known to [aid] glucose metabolism.”

As improbable as it may seem, the most important molecule in regulating the function of our arteries is nitric oxide (NO), a gas better known to us as an air pollutant. As synthesized in our arteries in tiny quantities, however, NO acts as a powerful mediator of vasodilation, the mechanism by which arteries dilate, when necessary, to lower our blood pressure and increase the flow of blood to tissues that need it. The principal source of our NO is arginine. This occurs via enzyme-catalyzed reactions that occur in endothelial cells, the thin layer of smooth, tightly “tiled” cells that line the inner walls of our arteries.

What researchers have found is that L-arginine potentiation of glucose-induced insulin secretion occurs independently of NO.

Italian researchers–specialists in diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolic diseases–knew that long-term arginine supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and endothelial function in type 2 diabetic patients who are not obese, because that had already been demonstrated.

Their own earlier study in 2001 showed that chronic administration of arginine improved insulin sensitivity in lean type 2 diabetic patients, but not in obese ones. Previously, German researchers had shown that arginine improved endothelial function to a similar extent as physical exercise did, and arginine together with exercise produced an additive effect.

“We have demonstrated that both lean and fat laboratory mice benefit considerably from arginine supplements. In fact, we improved glucose metabolism by as much as 40% in both groups. We can also see that arginine increases the body’s production of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), an intestinal hormone which plays an important role in regulating appetite and glucose metabolism, and which is therefore used in numerous drugs for treating type 2 diabetes,” says Christoffer Clemmensen, and continues:

“You cannot, of course, cure diabetes by eating unlimited quantities of arginine-rich almonds and hazelnuts. However, our findings indicate that diet-based interventions with arginine-containing foods can have a positive effect on how the body processes the food we eat.”

The research findings were recently published in the American scientific journal Endocrinology under the heading Oral l-arginine Stimulates GLP-1 Secretion to Improve Glucose Tolerance in Male Mice.

However the researcher noted: “You cannot, of course, cure diabetes by eating unlimited quantities of arginine-rich almonds and hazelnuts. However, our findings indicate that diet-based interventions with arginine-containing foods can have a positive effect on how the body processes the food we eat.”

Study Details

The researchers noted that more than 371 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, of whom 90% are affected by lifestyle-related diabetes mellitus type 2 (type 2 diabetes).

To test the effect of the amino acid arginine, researchers subjected lean and obese animal models to a so-called glucose tolerance test, which measures the body’s ability to remove glucose from the blood over time.

They found that arginine improves glucose metabolism significantly in both lean (insulin-sensitive) and obese (insulin-resistant) mice.

“We can also see that arginine increases the body’s production of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), an intestinal hormone which plays an important role in regulating appetite and glucose metabolism, and which is therefore used in numerous drugs for treating type 2 diabetes,” said Clemmensen.

“Mice without GLP-1 receptors are not affected to the same extent by arginine,” he added. “There is no perceptible improvement in glucose metabolism or insulin secretion, confirming our hypothesis of a close biological connection between GLP-1 and arginine.”

“This exciting result has raised several new questions which we want to investigate. Can other amino acids do what arginine does?

Supplementation With Arginine

Supplemental dosages of 6 to 8 grams L-Arginine per day are considered safe. Although available in food, for some applications such as stimulating secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary, it is not released quickly enough as the food is digested. The supplemental doses taken on an empty stomach will arrive at the blood-brain barrier without competition. Then growth hormone secretion will be stimulated which in turn can affect glucose metabolism.

If you choose supplements over food, the Life-Choice brand of L-Arginine has a stable shelf life up to 3 years and is of the highest quality with 99.9% purity.


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