The amino acid arginine — found in salmon, eggs, nuts, and other foods — has been found to offer a promising defense against diabetes, according to new research out of the University of Copenhagen.
Medical investigators found arginine greatly improves the body's ability to metabolize blood sugar — a process that is impaired in Type 2 diabetes. The research findings, published in the scientific journal Endocrinology
, indicate arginine stimulates a hormone linked to the treatment of diabetes in the same way as available medicines.
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"In fact, the amino acid is just as effective as several well-established drugs for Type 2 diabetics," said lead researcher Christoffer Clemmensen.
In new experiments involving lean and obese mice, Clemmensen and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati measured the effects of the amino acid on glucose tolerance, using tests that measure the body's ability to process and remove sugar from the blood over time.
"We have demonstrated that both lean and fat laboratory mice benefit considerably from arginine supplements," said Clemmensen. "In fact, we improved glucose metabolism by as much as 40 percent in both groups.
"You cannot, of course, cure diabetes by eating unlimited quantities of arginine-rich almonds and hazelnuts. However, our findings indicate that diet-based interventions with arginine-containing foods can have a positive effect on how the body processes the food we eat."
He added that the new findings hold promise for the development of better and more targeted drugs for treating Type 2 diabetes in the long run.
More than 371 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes — 90 percent of whom are affected by lifestyle-related Type 2 diabetes.
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