Tackling the diabetes pandemic 7th April 2020
By Andreas Zangara, Head of Scientific Communications & Marketing, Euromed
With metabolic syndrome and diabetes becoming a serious health issue, there is a growing need for new approaches to prevention and
With metabolic syndrome and diabetes becoming a serious health issue, there is a growing need for new approaches to prevention and treatment. The phytochemical abscisic acid is a promising natural remedy that has demonstrated anti-diabetic potential.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 60 million people with diabetes in Europe. That number is on the increase worldwide, among all age groups, largely as a result of growing levels of mostly preventable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and poor dietary habits. Sugar boosts the level of glucose in the blood and causes the pancreas to release insulin. Higher insulin levels lead to the storage of dietary calories as fat, which results in weight gain and obesity – both risk factors for diabetes. This can then lead to increased risk of a number of other major health issues, including heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, cataracts and nerve damage. However, high blood sugar levels can be effectively managed if caught early. Thus, there is a growing need for health solutions targeting prediabetes.
Plant-based solutions from Mother Nature
While there is no doubting the severity of such health problems, the opportunity for natural solutions is growing rapidly. Phytohormones are the response of plants’ evolutionary mechanisms to survive environmental conditions. Therefore, researchers are now looking at the possible effect of dietary plant hormones on human health. For instance, abscisic acid (ABA) is naturally present in many fruits and vegetables.
Figs are an excellent source of abscisic acid (ABA), on which Euromed’s dietary supplement for the treatment of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, ABAlife, is based. (Photo © shutterstock / MongPro)
Figs contain one of the highest concentrations of ABA found in nature. It is also produced in our bodies in the metabolic pathway of vitamin A, and plays an important role in managing blood glucose and inflammatory homeostasis. That is why Euromed, a leading manufacturer of therapeutic botanical extracts, has launched ABAlife– a patented extract from figs containing a standardized amount of ABA.
Fig extract for blood sugar control
A human study found that health conditions associated with impaired glucose tolerance correlated with lower levels of plasma ABA. These were restored after a return to normal health,showing the physiological significance of ABA on glycemic control. According to a survey of the European Union (EU) population, in 2017, only about 1 in 4 people ate fruit and vegetables at least twice a day. Thus, they may have insufficient intake of ABA and would therefore benefit from a dietary supplement containing ABAlife.
A randomized, double-blind crossover study from the University of Sydney evaluated the efficacy of Euromed’sfig extract on glucose metabolism blood parameters. Ithas been shown to improve glucose tolerance, assist insulin release and may help to lower post-prandial blood glucose levels. The researchers investigated the effects of two different ABA doses in fig extracts (100mg and 200mg) on post-prandial glucose and insulin responses in healthy subjects. A 200mg dose of ABAlife added to a glucose drink lowered overall blood glucose, insulin levels and peaks between 30 and 120 minutes post-dose, and significantly improved glycemic index (GI) levels compared with a reference glucose solution. The GI indicates how fast and efficiently the body can metabolize a carbohydrate meal. The lower dosage was also effective on GI but did not reach statistical significance. Both dosages, however, were able to significantly lower the post-prandial insulinemic index (II), which shows how much insulin the body releases in response to a meal.
This initial study suggests that ABAlife may be a beneficial dietary supplement in terms of helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and an adjunctive treatment for chronic metabolic disorders such as prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. A clinical development plan to further investigate other dosages and longer administrations of the extract in various health conditions is ongoing.
Scientifically proven health benefits
While we can’t change risk factors such as age, gender or genetics, we can make diet and lifestyle changes. Predominantly plant-based dietary patterns are recommended to support longevity. Following a Mediterranean-style diet – rich in polyphenols and other plant substances – and limiting sugar intake, can help in the management of diabetes and related metabolic diseases. ABAlife delivers the scientifically proven health benefits of ABA while avoiding the additional calories and glucose associated with eating figs. This could help with the development of natural medicines, functional foods and drinks that effectively support glucose metabolism. Moreover, ABAlife would also be the perfect companion for ketogenic diets.
- Ameri P, et al. PLosOne. 2015; 10 (2): e0115992
- https://www.euronews.com/2019/04/01/eu-fruit-and-vegetable-consumption-how-much-does-your-country-eat (accessed 27th January 2020)
- Atkinson FS et al.: Nutrients. 2019 Jul 31;11(8). pii: E1757.