Better Blood Sugar Control with Berberine
The Buzz on Blood Sugar
November 1st is often the day where many Americans feel low on energy from all the Halloween candy. However, compared to when you were younger, you might not be able to bounce back from a sugar buzz so easily. Researchers have found that changes in glucose tolerance, how your body tolerates blood sugar, changes between ages 60 and 92. Meaning, as we age our bodies become less efficient at processing sugar which can lead to poor glucose (blood sugar) control. Overtime, this can negatively impact longevity and increase your risk of developing blood sugar-related conditions, brain-related issues such as decline in memory or cognition, as well as slow metabolism, weight gain, decreased muscle mass, and inflammation.
The Blood Sugar and Aging Connection
Scientists discovered that as you age, two problems can occur: insulin sensitivity and lowered insulin production.
Glucose, is a sugar the body breaks down from food. It’s vital to daily functions, provides fuel to body cells and in return supplies us with energy. Insulin is a hormone that’s made in the pancreas. Its main role is to lower blood glucose by transporting glucose from the blood into cells to provide energy.
Young, healthy muscle and tissue are sensitive to insulin, which makes it easy for insulin and glucose to work together. Aging causes muscles and tissues to become less sensitive to insulin which makes it challenging to regulate blood sugar levels and leads to a higher amount of glucose floating in the blood for a longer period of time. Additionally, aging decreases insulin production following a meal. This means less insulin is available to transport glucose from the blood to muscles and tissues.
Both insulin sensitivity and lowered insulin production contribute to unwanted, high blood sugar and reduced energy levels. In one study, hemoglobin A1C, a long-term measure of blood sugar control, increased by about 0.03 points per year in healthy individuals. This means blood sugar control decreased each year in healthy people. Effects of this include decreased metabolism leading to unwanted weight gain, reduced muscle mass, increase in inflammation and oxidative stress on the body.
High blood sugar can also have profound impacts on the brain. One research study looked at 266 healthy individuals, ages 60-64. The results showed that high normal-fasting blood sugar was associated with brain wasting.
Berberine’s Use for Blood Sugar and Longevity
Berberine has been shown to have a powerful effect on blood sugar management to support longevity. Berberine is a plant-based compound found in several different types of plants including barberry and goldenseal. It’s been around for centuries and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for numerous medical conditions.
Berberine’s main function is turning on AMPK, often referred to as the metabolic switch. This activation causes insulin to become more sensitive, decreasing insulin resistance. It also increases glycolysis, the process that helps to break down sugar inside cells to be used for energy, and it decreases sugar production in the liver. A review of 14 different studies found that berberine helped lower blood sugar levels and was as effective as certain blood sugar management medications.
Additionally, an animal study looking at the effects of berberine on memory concluded that berberine was effective at preventing memory loss which could be explained by its protective benefits to reduce the progression of brain disorders.
Additional benefits of berberine include immune support, promoting heart health, supporting healthy liver function, supporting brain health and aiding in weight loss.
Using Berberine for Longevity and Blood Sugar Support
For blood sugar support and longevity purposes it’s best to take berberine with a fat-containing meal, five days on and two days off. Most people find it easiest to take it during the week and the weekends for the off days.
Berberine does interact with blood sugar medications, so it is best to discuss with your doctor or health care provider before taking berberine due to the high risk of interaction and change to blood sugar levels.
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