Potential for mulberry leaf extract in preventing type 2 diabetes

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

©Nestle Health Sciences
©Nestle Health Sciences

Related tags: mulberry, Diabetes, Nestlé health science

Nestle Health Science has launched a mulberry leaf supplement, Nutren GlucoSmart, that disrupts the digestion of carbohydrates to protect pre-diabetics from developing full blown type 2 diabetes.

The powder supplement contains the proprietary mulberry leaf extract Reducose​ (developed by UK ingredients company Phynova), which is clinically proven to reduce blood glucose levels. 

Dietary carbohydrates play an important role in a healthy diet, but excessive amounts promote fat storage and hunger.

Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI) have a dramatic effect on blood glucose levels and lead to the rapid release of large amounts of glucose into the blood stream.

In contrast, a low GI diet slows the rate of glucose released and can improve blood glucose profile, blood lipid profile, and insulin resistance.

Phynova Chief Marketing Officer, Wouter Claerhout comments: “Managing blood sugar response is important for everyone on the planet as having a healthy, balanced blood sugar fluctuation during the day (without big jumps and crashes) helps with feeling better, more balanced, less hangry and will help one to be more concentrated, feel more satiated and avoids the ‘sugar crash’.”

Decoy effect

Once ingested the mulberry extract triggers a “cascade of effects​” that benefits overall metabolic health, Claerhout explains: “These include healthier blood glucose and blood insulin responses after eating, increased satiety, support for weight loss and a healthy microbiome, and support for healthy blood lipids.”

The extract acts like a decoy, distracting alpha-glucosidase​ (digestive enzymes) to prevent them digesting carbohydrates in the small intestine and allowing large amounts to pass through unaltered, thus preventing a sharp spike in blood glucose and insulin levels.

These effects are rapid and can be observed in real time using devices such as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).

“The key to maximum efficacy is to ensure that the product is freely available with the food once the stomach empties into the small intestines,” ​says Claerhout.

Undigested carbohydrates pass into the large intestine and become food for the gut microbiome and protect against the build-up of pathogenic bacteria.

There are no apparent side-effects as the residue is absorbed through the gut wall into the blood and excreted unaltered through the kidneys and urine.

He adds: “This is different from other carb-blocking compounds like white kidney bean that will stay in the gut and will cause gastro-intestinal side-effects.”

Clinical evidence

The mulberry leave (morus alba​) is a centuries old ingredient used in diets and traditional medicine and contains numerous secondary plant metabolites that have positive health benefits, according to Phynova.

One particular plant metabolite (iminosugars) resembles carbohydrate monosaccharides and interacts with enzymes and receptors involved in carbohydrate digestion to limit the activity of the main enzymes involved in breaking down carbohydrates.

A Phynova White Paper on Reducose ​states that one (unpublished) clinical trial observed a significant reduction in the GI of common dietary carbohydrates with a single 250mg dose: “The greatest effect was seen with maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from corn starch, where ​Reducose lowered the GI of the maltodextrin by 55%.”

Other studies show that Reducose®​ lowered postprandial blood glucose levels (by up to 42%) following a carbohydrate challenge (sucrose in one study, maltodextrin in the second), which led to a corresponding reduction in postprandial insulin response (-41%).

A lower insulin response helps the body to burn fat and therefore decreases the amount of glucose calories stored as fat.

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