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Salacia Reticulata Normalizes Insulin Levels and Helps You Lose Weight!

Salacia Reticulata Normalizes Insulin Levels and Helps You Lose Weight!

If you crave carbs, chances are you're either overweight or you don't eat enough protein. This is actually a physiological craving caused by the way your body chemistry overreacts to eating sweets and carbohydrates.

And if excess glucose remains in circulation, high insulin levels will stimulate lipogenesis (fat production and storage). To compound the problem, there is evidence that high insulin levels trigger the hypothalamus (the master gland) to send out hunger signals.1

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Insulin regulates carbohydrate metabolism by controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels. During a meal, the insulin level is a determining factor in signaling the brain that your body is "full." Stress and poor eating habits are also factors but the most detrimental one is the "over consumption of carbohydrates", leading to insulin imbalance. Once the imbalance becomes constant, low insulin levels will elevate glucose and cause you to eat more, and consequently gain weight. It becomes a vicious cycle, because overweight people burn sugar less efficiently than those with normal weight do.

And ultimately, the more carbs you eat the hungrier you may become.2 Even if you eat as few as 800 calories a day, if you are sugar sensitive and those calories are from carbohydrates, you may find that you still gain weight.3

The Role Insulin Plays in Your Body

Every time you eat a carbohydrate, such as a piece of bread, plate of pasta, a baked potato, or even a piece of fruit (which is 50% fructose), your digestive system converts it into glucose, a simple sugar, which is then absorbed into the blood stream. In response to the rise in blood sugar, insulin is produced and secreted into the bloodstream by the pancreas-a glandular organ deep in your abdominal cavity, behind the stomach.

As insulin travels through the circulatory system, it regulates the metabolism, storage and level of blood sugar. This master hormone of metabolism converts some glucose into glycogen, a sugar-polymer (long chain of sugar molecules) that is stored in the liver and muscle tissues. Glycogen acts as storage fuel like a spare gallon of gasoline for your car, and can be converted back into glucose quickly and easily on an as-needed basis. The remaining glucose circulates in the bloodstream to be used for energy. But if too much glycogen gets stored, it accumulates as body fat and organ fat, resulting in obesity.

When the pancreas secretes the right amount of insulin, it regulates appetite, growth hormone, cholesterol, and fluid levels. Consequently, your metabolic system keeps everything in balance. But if the pancreas secretes an excess of insulin in order to deal with all the extra glucose from eating too many carbohydrates, the body will become overwhelmed by the amount of insulin, sluggish in response to it-and develop insulin resistance. Unfortunately, this often results in:

  • Excessive abdominal fat
  • Elevated blood pressure (130/85 or higher)
  • The production of more LDL (bad cholesterol) by the liver due to insulin stimulation
  • Low HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Elevated triglyceride levels

Maintaining healthy blood lipid and insulin levels

The good news is Salacia reticulata, a plant that grows in India and Sri Lanka, helps normalize blood sugar and insulin levels, and support healthy blood lipids. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat diabetes, more recently it has been used as a supplementary food in Japan to prevent diabetes and obesity.4

Salacia also has potent antioxidant properties5, and triglyceride and LDL cholesterol-lowering effects that aid in weight loss. It contains mangiferin, a polyphenol, which enhances the body's sensitivity to insulin, and contains inhibitors of sugar digestion and absorption.6 A study at the Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan, investigating the antiobesity effects of Salacia on laboratory animals found that its polyphenols inhibit fat metabolizing enzymes and enhance lipolysis (the breakdown of fat stored in fat cells).4 Suppresses glucose absorption, Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors decrease the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine, resulting in a slower and lower rise in blood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. They are important constituents of the traditionally used anti-diabetic medicines, and are also therapeutic for other carbohydrate-metabolic disorders, such as Syndrome X.

Salacia contains two potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitors: salicinol7 and kotalanol.8 In a recent study, Salacia extract exerted an inhibitory effect on the increase of serum glucose levels in rats that had been give high doses of sucrose (table sugar) and maltose (a sugar molecule consisting of two linked glucose molecules). In fact, the scientists concluded that Salacia is a more potent glucose inhibitor than acarbose, a commercial alpha-glucosidase inhibitor found in diabetic medication.9

A study published in April 2004 by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, School of Human Environmental Sciences, Mukogawa Women's University, Nishinomiya, Japan, discusses the effects that various teas had on slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugar in laboratory animals. Out of the ten teas tested (including mulberry and guava), Salacia's inhibitory effect lasted 110 minutes, which was significantly longer than any of the other teas'.9

Salacia has also been found to inhibit aldose reductase,10 an enzyme that is normally present in the eye and in other parts of the body that helps change glucose into a sugar alcohol called sorbitol. Too much sorbitol trapped in eye and nerve cells can damage these cells, leading to neuropathy (nerve disease, which is related to chronic diabetic complications such as peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, and cataracts).

Salacia is a potent antioxidant

The polyphenols in salacia were shown to be potent free radical scavengers in a study in which laboratory animals had stress-induced liver injuries. The scientists concluded that the antioxidative activity of the compounds exerted a protective effect on the animals' livers, indicating Salacia is a potential antioxidant for human use against toxins that cause damage to the liver.11

How safe is it?

Prescribed diabetes treatments such as insulin may produce side effects or low blood sugar, but there are no known negative side effects associated with Salacia. It does produce the positive effects of lowering triglyceride and LDL cholesterol, which aids in weight loss!

Recommended dosage: 300 mg at each meal.

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References

  1. Dilman, V, Dean. W. The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging and Degenerative Disease. Pensacola, FL: The Center for Bio-Gerontology, 1992.

  2. The Burton Goldberg Group. Alternative Medicine pg. 764, Future Medicine Publishing, Inc., 1997, CA. 3.

  3. DesMaisons, Kathleen, Ph.D. Potatoes Not Prozac, pg. 31, Simon & Schuster, 1998, New York.

  4. Yoshikawa M, Shimoda H, Nishida N, Takada M, Matsuda H. Salacia reticulata and its polyphenolic constituents with lipase inhibitory and lipolytic activities have mild antiobesity effects in rats. J Nutr. 2002 Jul;132(7):1819-24.

  5. Yoshikawa M, Morikawa T, Matsuda H, Tanabe G, Muraoka O. Absolute Stereostructure of Potent alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitor, Salacinol, with Unique Thiosugar Sulfonium Sulfate Inner Salt Structure from Salacia reticulata. Bioorg Med Chem 2002 May;10(5):1547-54.

  6. Yoshikawa M, Ninomiya K, Shimoda H, Nishida N, Matsuda H. Hepatoprotective and antioxidative properties of Salacia reticulata: preventive effects of phenolic constituents on CCl4-induced liver injury in mice. Biol Pharm Bull 2002 Jan;25(1):72-6.

  7. Yoshikawa M, Morikawa T, Matsuda H, Tanabe G, Muraoka O. Absolute Stereostructure of Potent alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitor, Salacinol, with Unique Thiosugar Sulfonium Sulfate Inner Salt Structure from Salacia reticulata. Bioorg Med Chem 2002 May;10(5):1547-54.

  8. Yoshikawa M, Murakami T, Yashiro K, Matsuda H. Kotalanol, a potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitor with thiosugar sulfonium sulfate structure, from antidiabetic ayurvedic medicine Salacia reticulata. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1998 Aug;46(8):1339-40.

  9. Matsuura T, Yoshikawa Y, Masui H, Sano M. [Suppression of glucose absorption by various health teas in rats] [Article in Japanese] Yakugaku Zasshi. 2004 Apr;124(4):217-23.

  10. Matsuda, H., Murakami, T., Yashiro, K., Yamahara, J. & Yoshikawa, M. (1999) Antidiabetic principles of natural medicines. IV. Aldose reductase and -glucosidase inhibitors from the roots of Salacia oblonga Wall. (Celastraceae): Structure of a new friedelane-type triterpene, kotalagenin 16-acetate. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 47:1725-1729.

  11. Yoshikawa M, Ninomiya K, Shimoda H, Nishida N, Matsuda H. Hepatoprotective and antioxidative properties of Salacia reticulata: preventive effects of phenolic constituents on CCl4-induced liver injury in mice. Biol Pharm Bull 2002 Jan;25(1):72-6.

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