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Insulin Resistance & Green Tea

nsulin resistance occurs when the body produces insulin but cannot use it properly. Insulin resistance increases the risk of diabetes type 2 and heart disease. Green tea has been used for blood sugar control in traditional medicine and is now being studied for its role in helping insulin resistance.

Glucose and Insulin

When you eat, the digestive system breaks down foods into glucose. The glucose is absorbed into the blood, where it is called blood glucose or blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body's cells use sugar for energy. The pancreas releases insulin after each meal or snack. If you are insulin-resistant, your muscle, fat and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin; the pancreas secretes increasing quantities and eventually fails to meet the demand. The concentration of sugar in the blood rises, and diabetes becomes more likely.
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Insulin Resistance
Genetics is a factor in insulin resistance; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that researchers have found specific genes that make people more likely to develop insulin resistance. Excess weight and low level of physical activity can also contribute to insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a related condition in which an individual has several of these problems: insulin resistance, high blood glucose, excess weight around the waist, high blood pressure and abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

Green Tea
Green tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which grows in Asia, parts of the Middle East and Africa. It is prepared from unfermented leaves and has the highest polyphenol content of all the teas. Polyphenols are antioxidants that can help to prevent damage to the body from molecules called free radicals, which result from exposure to toxins such as pollution and cigarette smoke.

The Research
According to the University of Maryland, green tea was used in traditional medicine for blood sugar control, and a few small clinical studies showed green tea supplementation could lower the

hemoglobin A1c -- a measurement of the average blood sugar over time -- in people who had borderline diabetes. Animal studies have shown that green tea can improve insulin resistance in rats. One report in the April 2004 "European Journal of Nutrition" found a number of measures including insulin resistance improved when diabetic rats consumed a green tea supplement. However, research on one specific green tea polyphenol, EGCG, had no effect on insulin resistance in people, according to a study in the March 2009 "British Journal of Nutrition."

Final Words
At this time, there is no strong evidence to support the use of green tea for insulin resistance in humans. Nor is green tea a substitute for medical management; if you have questions or concerns, consult a healthcare professional.
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The Best Supplements for Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which your body's cells do not respond efficiently to insulin. If you are insulin resistant, your cells are less sensitive to the signals produced by insulin and you require higher levels of insulin to achieve the same blood-sugar-lowering effects as someone who is not insulin resistant. A variety of supplements may help decrease insulin resistance. Check with your doctor before using supplements to treat insulin resistance.

Cinnamon contains antioxidant polyphenol compounds that may increase insulin sensitivity, according to the book "Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Spices." In a study on women with polycystic ovary syndrome--a condition involving an imbalance in female sex hormones and often associated with insulin resistance, eight weeks of supplementation with 1 g of cinnamon per day significantly reduced fasting glucose and insulin resistance. Cinnamon also benefits people with good glucose tolerance. It is most effective when taken with glucose or up to 12 hours before glucose consumption.
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Fenugreek, an ingredient in some curry blends, has been used with some success to lower blood sugar in diabetics, according to the book "An Introduction to Botanical Medicines." Fenugreek seed powder at doses of 100 g for 10 days decreased fasting blood glucose and glucose in the urine in one study of insulin-dependent diabetics. The same dosage of fenugreek seed powder in non-insulin-dependent diabetics for six weeks followed by another six weeks of 2 g per day resulted in decreased fasting blood glucose. Fenugreek also reportedly lowered insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetics.

The trace mineral vanadium decreased insulin resistance in laboratory animals in a study conducted at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, in Portugal. In the study, vanadium increased glucose uptake by fat cells by as much as five times more than without vanadium and without insulin being present. Vanadium also inhibited release of fatty acids from fat cells by 78 percent, potentially decreasing cholesterol levels in the blood. The researchers noted that vanadium was effective at nontoxic dose levels, implying that it may potentially be a useful means of managing insulin resisance for some people. The study was published in the September 2010 issue of the "Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry."

Bitter Melon
Researchers at the Center for the Study of Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reported that bitter melon--an Asian vegetable used for blood sugar management--improved insulin resistance in laboratory animals by reducing fat storage in muscle cells. In the study, bitter melon supplementation for 12 weeks increased protein content and decreased fat content in muscle tissue. Bitter melon also increased glucose transport into muscle cells and improved insulin sensitivity, resulting in weight loss and blood sugar stabilization. The study was published in the January 2011 issue of the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
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Foods That Fight Insulin Resistance

All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which stimulates the release of the hormone insulin in the body. Insulin removes glucose from the blood and helps cells use it for energy.

However, in some cases cells become resistant to insulin and do not use it properly. This can lead to chronically high insulin and glucose levels in the blood, which can increase the risk for diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. Evidence indicates that eating certain foods can improve insulin resistance by increasing insulin sensitivity, which allows cells to use insulin more efficiently.

Eating an almond-rich diet might boost insulin sensitivity, according to researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Participants with pre-diabetes were randomly assigned to follow a diet with or without almonds for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, which was published in the June 2010 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition," scientists observed that the almond-rich group experienced reductions in insulin and insulin resistance, both markers of insulin sensitivity, compared to those not adhering to an almond-rich diet.
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Increasing whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal and 100 percent whole grain bread, might have positive effects on insulin sensitivity. Mark Pereira and colleagues from the Harvard Medical School studied the impact of whole grains on insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese patients with chronically high insulin levels. For six weeks, subjects adhered to a diet rich in whole or refined grains. At the end of the six-week study, subjects consumed a liquid mixed meal. Scientists discovered that the whole grain group improved their insulin sensitivity by having lower insulin levels after the liquid mixed meal compared to the refined group, according to findings reported in the May 2002 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Metabolic Research in California examined the effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance in obese subjects. They found that participants eating grapefruit three times a day before meals for 12 weeks experienced weight loss and improvements in insulin resistance, according to research reported in the spring 2006 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food
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Vanadium Rich Foods

Vanadium is a trace mineral that was discovered in the early 1800s and named for Vanadis, the Swedish goddess of beauty, youth, and luster. This mineral is found in extremely small quantities in the human body and there is much controversy regarding whether vanadium is an essential mineral. Vanadium is found in many foods that you consume on a regular basis.

Health Benefits of Vanadium

There are some proven health benefits of vanadium and some theorized health benefits of vanadium. According to Diabetes, clinical trials have revealed that increased consumption of vanadium promotes a reduction in blood glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes. A study at the University of Ioannina in Greece showed that vanadium consumption had cancer fighting properties. Vanadium is also marketed as a powerful dietary supplement for performance enhancement and body building. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
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Adverse Effects of Vanadium

Vanadium is only required by the body in trace amounts; over-consumption of this mineral can cause some adverse side effects. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the most common side effects due to vanadium consumption are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. In addition, consumption of vanadium may cause blood glucose levels to drop to dangerous levels, especially in individuals who take medications in order to lower blood glucose levels. Excessive consumption of vanadium can cause a decrease in the number of white blood cells and may alter kidney function.

Vanadium Rich Grains and Seeds

Grains and seeds are food sources with the highest vanadium concentrations. Black pepper, by far, is the food source with the greatest vanadium concentration. The vanadium concentration of black pepper is 987 ng/g. Dill seed also contains a significant concentration of vanadium. The vanadium concentration of dill seed is 431 ng/g. Gluten has a vanadium concentration of 33 ng/g. White rice is also a good dietary source of vanadium with a concentration of 21 ng/g.

Vanadium Rich Meats and Seafood

Meats and seafood are also good dietary sources of vanadium. Seafood such as codfish and scallops are among the meats that contain the greatest amount of vanadium with concentrations of 28 ng/g and 22 ng/g, respectively. The breast meat, or white meat, of a chicken is also a good dietary source of vanadium with a concentration of 22 ng/g. Conversely, the dark meat of the chicken only contains 12 ng/g of vanadium.

Other Rich Dietary Sources of Vanadium

There are several other dietary sources that contain a significant concentration of vanadium. Peanut butter is an excellent dietary source of vanadium with a concentration of 44ng/g. Egg yolk are another food rich in vanadium with a concentration of 21 ng/g. A can of beer also contains a meaningful quantity of vanadium with a concentration of 11 ng/g
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