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Blood Sugar & Metabolic Health: What’s Next?

Blood Sugar Blood Sugar
Longevity By Nature
 
EuroMedica

Lifestyle changes and natural supplements may help improve blood sugar and metabolic health.

When thinking of preventing heart disease, many people aren’t automatically considering metabolic health. In fact, most people aren’t aware of what metabolic syndrome even is. This is a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the cluster of risk factors for metabolic disorders include abdominal obesity, impaired fasting blood glucose levels, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, and low levels of HDL cholesterol.

While diet and lifestyle play a big role, natural supplements may also help to improve blood sugar levels and metabolic health. What natural supplements might a natural practitioner recommend to patients? What’s the outlook for these products and which are trending now? And what key ingredients and new studies are currently relevant?

What’s the Outlook for Blood Sugar & Metabolic Health Products Now?

“There is a growing trend for natural and healthy products that support metabolic health and longevity. Longevity is all the rage right now,” said Danielle Arnold, MS, CNS, LDN, and clinical nutritionist at Florida-based Designs for Health. “‘Biohacking’ and ‘longevity’ topics are seriously trending, as life expectancy has been decreasing despite all the technological advancements we have made up until this point. One of the main topics of longevity and biohacking is ‘metabolic flexibility.’ So being metabolically healthy is at the forefront of this movement to get healthy, live longer, and add life to your years, rather than years to your life,” she noted. “Prevention is better than a cure mentality has made natural metabolic products front-runners in the market. Many people are using these hundred-year-old herbs and minerals to add life to their years by supporting their metabolism through diet and supplementation.”

At Bioenergy Life Sciences, Inc., a manufacturer in Minnesota, Michael Crabtree, director of scientific affairs and technology stated that while prescription medications remain central in the management of blood sugar, over-the-counter supplements, and functional food and beverages also play an important role. “Many supplements claim to support healthy blood sugar levels. These include cinnamon, chromium, berberine and fenugreek, among others,” noted Crabtree. “The demand for these supplements has increased, driven by consumer interest in natural alternatives and adjuncts to prescription medications.” Likewise, he noted, “The market has seen growth in foods and drinks explicitly formulated to support metabolic health, often by incorporating ingredients with potential healthy blood sugar-maintenance effects or by being low-glycemic.”

Joe Brunner, president of Endurance Products Company (EPC), a manufacturer located in Oregon, said interest in metabolic health and healthy blood sugars is “exploding.” A big reason for this? The popularity of social media platforms and influencers and the information shared, for better or worse said Brunner. “On the one hand, Instagram, Facebook, X and other social media platforms can create a sense of community around a health topic like blood sugar control where individuals can share their personal experiences, recommendations and success stories,” he noted.

“This participation can not only help a person become more aware of the importance of blood sugar control, but it can inspire them to take action and work toward sustainable lifestyle changes. When done right, it’s personalized nutrition at its best.” Social media does have its downsides though, Brunner noted. The information shared there might not always be credible. “For this reason, a trusted doctor-patient relationship is more important than ever,” Brunner said. “Working with a naturopath can help a patient make sense of all the online information while creating a comprehensive care plan that’s truly personalized.”

Trends in This Market

The interest in personalization when it comes to being healthier is a trend that Brunner stated is growing in popularity and one that EPC watches with great interest. “This is an area where naturopathic doctors and their holistic approach to wellness really shine. They can leverage the latest testing techniques to gain better insight into a patient’s individual metabolic needs, tailor dietary recommendations accordingly, and recommend a supplement program that targets what matters most for an individual patient,” said Brunner. “We know quality supplements can play a big role in achieving this goal. It’s a key reason why we focus on creating innovative products like Dihydroberberine SR.” This product is touted by EPC as an antioxidant with highly available levels of berberine. It utilizes a sustained-released delivery, said Brunner, and may improve cardiovascular health and blood glucose levels, and support healthy cholesterol.

With an increasing awareness of the connection between diet and lifestyle, as well as health-based technology—like continuous glucose monitors available to consumers—metabolic health has become a significant area of interest for many, said Arnold. “Previously, a diagnosis like T2DM or metabolic syndrome might have seemed like a genetic destiny as family members may have all shared the same diagnosis,” she explained. “But now people are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of diet and lifestyle on expressing genetics for better or for worse.”

Likewise, Arnold stated that individuals are recognizing the importance of having a good metabolism and using technology to see how their bodies respond to certain foods. “There is a shift towards bespoke personalized nutrition and targeted supplementation for the individual that is tailored to their needs, wants and functional testing results. More and more people are adopting the idea that every body is different and that there is no one diet that fits all individuals,” she said. Designs for Health specializes in functional testing kits like Metabolomics Spotlight, GI Spotlight and Genomic Spotlight, which are directed at the individual who wants individualized and targeted supplements, said Arnold.

Crabtree explained, “Over one-third of U.S. adults are prediabetic, meaning their fasting blood sugar levels are higher than healthy levels, putting them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Taking preventative measures is essential to avoid progression,” he explained. “ATP, NAD+, and antioxidant status related to glutathione are critical to the functioning of normal metabolism, which in turn, is critical for healthy aging.”

The American Diabetes Association, Crabtree said, estimates that 70 percent of adults with pre-diabetes will eventually “reach a point of no return.” This can result in various health complications. Prediabetes, he noted, however, can be reversed. The company’s product, RiaGev, offers a potential solution and is available over the counter.

Lifestyles That May Support Metabolic and Blood Sugar Health

Rosia Parrish, ND, works at the Naturopathic Wellness Center of Boulder, a telehealth practice. She stated that several key areas may best support better metabolic and blood sugar health. Balanced nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, functional lab testing, good sleep and regular checkups are all important focuses.

With diet, Dr. Parrish emphasizes whole foods like vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains, she said. “Reduce processed foods, sugars and refined carbs to prevent quick blood sugar spikes.” Exercise is vital to improve insulin sensitivity and overall metabolic health,” Dr. Parrish noted and stated that mixing aerobic and strength training activities is optimal.

Likewise, she suggests that her patients look at stress. “Manage stress effectively since it affects hormones, notably cortisol while enhancing insulin sensitivity and metabolic health,” she noted. “Complement this with stress-reducing practices such as meditation, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.” Acupuncture may benefit insulin sensitivity and reduce metabolic syndrome’s effects, said Dr. Parrish.

She also recommends functional lab tests, which she said provide deeper insights into health than standard testing does. “Assess hormonal rhythms, particularly cortisol and insulin sensitivity. It’s important to identify deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, chromium, zinc and B vitamins, which regulate blood sugar,” Dr. Parrish stated. “Detect food sensitivities and allergies that cause inflammation and metabolic imbalances. Additionally, a comprehensive stool analysis can reveal gut microbiome imbalances affecting metabolic health.” Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night may likewise help to maintain metabolic and hormonal balance.

“Regular check-ups monitor vital metrics like blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol,” Dr. Parrish said. Also, lab testing for those with sugar challenges is “essential,” in her mind. “Glycemic control tests, like Fasting Blood Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), measure blood sugar. Lipid profiles evaluate dyslipidemia by checking cholesterol levels. Insulin dynamics tests, like Fasting Insulin and C-Peptide, detect insulin resistance,” she said. “Markers like High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) indicate inflammation. Adipokines, such as leptin and adiponectin, provide information on hunger and energy. Hormonal tests reveal imbalances affecting metabolism.”

Key Ingredients Which May Support Blood Sugar and Metabolic Health

Certain foods are thought to support a healthier metabolism. Dark, leafy greens, chili peppers, tea, fruits—especially those with high vitamin C content—broccoli, and fish with high omega-3 levels, may all be beneficial. Of course, sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough on their own. That’s where key ingredients that may help boost one’s metabolism and support healthy blood sugar levels come into play.

For her patients, Dr. Parrish is likely to recommend a few options. “Supplements like chromium, berberine and omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial,” she noted.

Berberine is a key ingredient at EuroMedica, a manufacturer located in Wisconsin. Lexi Loch, ND, and medical educator, stated that this is an ingredient that is featured in the company’s products, Berberine 500 mg, Berberine Ultra Absorption, Nerve Complex and Sucontral D. Berberine enjoys a solid reputation with practitioners and patients alike, said Dr. Loch, and there is good reason for this.

“In a clinical trial, berberine lowered fasting and postprandial glucose right from the very beginning of the study through its entire three months. It also lowered A1C levels from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent, reduced fasting plasma insulin by 28 percent, and insulin resistance by 44 percent,” said Dr. Loch. “The results were similar to the group treated with metformin, a commonly used drug for type 2 diabetes but one that can cause unwanted side effects, including nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite.”

Berberine, explained Dr. Loch, works in multiple ways to normalize blood sugar levels. “First, it stimulates glycolysis, the process of releasing the energy from sugars so they are used up by the mitochondria as fuel rather than overloading the bloodstream or being converted into triglycerides which are stored as fat,” she said. “Berberine also inhibits alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates in the intestines. That, in turn, slows sugar absorption and reduces spikes in the bloodstream.”

Crabtree stated, “With nearly 40 years of experience in various aspects of metabolism support, Bioenergy Life Science, Inc. has gained extensive knowledge. Our flagship branded ingredient, Bioenergy Ribose, as well as several patented combinations, have been studied for their effectiveness in blood sugar maintenance, cellular energy, insulin sensitivity and maintaining mitochondrial health,” he stated. RiaGev, another product the company offers, builds on that research, and targets multiple interrelated physiological systems, Crabtree explained.

New Studies and Information on Blood Sugar and Metabolic Health Products

Dr. Parrish noted that recent research suggests that interventions targeting insulin resistance may help reproductive outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). “Related to PCOS, hyperinsulinemia—resulting from insulin resistance—stimulates the ovaries to produce
excess androgens, leading to PCOS,” said Dr. Parrish.

Likewise, “There is quite a bit of cool research looking at gut microbiome and its impact on metabolic health, she noted. “Research is showing that differences in gut microbial composition have been identified between women with and without PCOS, and women experiencing fertility and those who are not. There is also emerging research exploring how environmental toxins that are endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment might impact metabolic health and PCOS. These chemicals interfere with insulin signaling and exacerbate metabolic disturbances.”

Dr. Loch noted that interest in metabolic health and healthy blood sugar levels certainly isn’t slowing down. “There seems to be growing awareness around the risks of hyperglycemia and people want to take action sooner,” she noted. “We know that having type 2 diabetes increases the risk about two-fold for both stroke and hypertension, plus anywhere from two- to four-fold increased risk of any kind of heart disease,” said Dr. Loch. “Addressing blood sugar and metabolic health is necessary to help prevent some of the significant consequences of these conditions.”

She’s also glad to see that more individuals are choosing to supplement their traditional prescription medications for healthy blood sugar and metabolic health with more natural alternatives. Commercials on TV for prescription diabetes medications, for example, seem to be including more self-directed patients to find natural medicines and alternatives that work, said Dr. Loch. This, she believes, is because of the overall greater awareness and prevalence of diabetes. “In a sense, because it has become so commonplace, there may be an increasing openness to trying lifestyle measures in combination with guided practitioner care and recommendations,” she noted. “Perhaps that’s the silver lining here.”

References:

“Ageing and health,” World Health Organization, October 1, 2022: www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health.

“Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes,” Metabolism. 2008 May; 57(5): 712–717: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/.

Healthy Take Aways

• Many natural supplements intended to support blood sugar and metabolic health can be used in conjunction with prescription medications under a doctor’s supervision.
• Lifestyle influences blood sugar and metabolic health. Reducing stress, eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods, exercise and good sleep are all important steps.
• Berberine is a supplement that may be beneficial when it comes to healthy blood sugar support and good metabolic health.
• Certain foods may help improve one’s metabolic health. These include, but aren’t limited to, dark, leafy greens, chili peppers, tea, fruits high in vitamin C, broccoli and fish that are high omega-3s.

For More Information:

Bioenergy Life Sciences Inc, https://bioenergylifescience.com
Designs for Health, www.designsforhealth.com
Endurance Products Company, www.endur.com; www.enduranceresearch.com
EuroMedica, www.euromedicausa.com