L-Arginine Improves Glucose Metabolism, Fights Diabetes, Study Finds

Matthew Nelder's picture

Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by a disruption in glucose homeostasis in the body. While there are effective methods of addressing this issue, such as daily injections of insulin, these methods are not without their setbacks. It can be tedious, uncomfortable, and can easily be overdone resulting in low blood sugar. Many of you may be all too familiar with these unfortunate routines. Incorporating the appropriate nutrients into the diet can have profound effects on the management of diabetes, which may make each day substantially less taxing and one such nutrient is the amino acid, L-Arginine.

What’s the Big Deal?

It was recently revealed by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, that L-Arginine may act as a potent stimulant for the secretion of a chemical essential to glucose homeostasis, known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This chemical increases insulin sensitivity and past studies have revealed that surgical and medicinal efforts to increase the secretion of GLP-1 have been effective in regulating glucose levels in the body. It may be possible to achieve the same results without invasive surgeries or pharmaceuticals by supplementing L-Arginine in the diet.

Researchers set out to investigate this hypothesis using mice as the animal model. The mice were divided into two groups; one was issued a high fat diet and the other, a normal diet. The research team also bred a mouse lacking the gene to produce GLP-1. This was done to be sure that GLP-1 was responsible for any effects seen on glucose balance. After a 5-6 month period, both the obese and lean mice were fed either an L-Arginine supplement or saline. The results were promising and the possibilities are inspiring.

Results Sure to Change Lives

It was found that within a mere 15 minutes of L-Arginine ingestion, there was a profound improvement in glucose tolerance. Furthermore, the secretion of GLP-1 also increased by as much as 40%. These effects were observed in both the lean mice and the obese mice. What does this mean for humans? It means that there is a strong possibility that those who live with diabetes can better manage their condition and those who may have been at risk might be able to reverse the damage before it’s too late.

As for the mouse that was rendered unable to produce GLP-1, these effects were not seen. This confirms that L-Arginine does in fact operate through GLP-1 to control glucose levels. You should keep in mind that stabilizing glucose metabolism does not only aid those with diabetes, it also means big help for those simply trying to lose weight.

If One Study Wasn’t Convincing Enough…

There was some evidence several years ago that protein or the amino acids it consists of can aid in glucose metabolism. It is only recently that L-Arginine has been identified as one of the main contributors. Several years ago, a paper published in Diabetes Care found that whey protein, which is found in milk, also increased secretion of GLP-1. This particular study confirms that the results that were observed in mice can most likely be generalized to humans as well. In this experiment, eight patients with Type 2 Diabetes were given whey protein along with either beef soup or a potato (a food sure to spike blood sugars). Each time whey protein was given with the meal, blood glucose was better controlled.

Another study published in Amino Acid found that L-Arginine not only improved glucose homeostasis but also resulted in a reduction of adipose tissue and improved energy expenditure. Is it possible that this common component of any complete protein is the metabolic booster we’ve been overlooking? The research at hand certainly points in that direction.

How You Can Benefit and get the Metabolic Boost You Need

If you’re intrigued and think you could benefit from a little extra L-Arginine, some of the best sources include some very common foods. Things such as tuna, salmon, beef, whole grains and peanuts are fantastic sources of arginine. Whether you're looking to get control of your medical issues or take that first step towards a healthier lifestyle, this may be one way to do just that. Who wouldn’t enjoy a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain or an excuse to eat a little more beef?


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