For example, doctors generally recommend anti-hypertensive medications to lower blood pressure, and statins to improve cholesterol. These medications help by treating the symptoms, but they don’t address the high fasting insulin levels that caused the underlying problems in the first place.
A better approach would be to correct insulin resistance to keep fasting insulin in the normal range. Only then can a person prevent or correct the harmful effects of excess insulin.
Fortunately, there’s an enzyme found in every cell in the body, called AMP-activated protein kinase(AMPK), that can help get insulin levels back to normal.
When activated, AMPK improves metabolism, boosting cells’ sensitivity to insulin and counteracting many of the detrimental effects discussed above, including weight gain and many age-related diseases.8,29,30
AMPK activation has several specific effects on metabolism, including:8
- Improved glucose transport into cells,
- Improved function of the mitochondria, the “power generators” of the cell,
- Enhanced breakdown of fats,
- Reduction of oxidative stress,
- Reduced inflammation, and
- Activation of sirtuins, proteins that regulate cellular health and are associated with life-span extension in many models.
The end result of these effects? Reduced insulin resistance and lower levels of fasting insulin.
The objective is to find ways to “amp up” AMPK’s activity. The four known ways to do this are with exercise, dietary changes, medication, and natural supplements
Using Plant Compounds to Boost AMPK
Fortunately, other plants contain natural compounds with similar AMPK-activating properties.
Gynostemma pentaphyllum is a plant native to parts of Asia. It is known as the “immortality herb” by some local cultures.
Several animal and cell culture studies have shown that G. pentaphyllum and its extracts are activators of AMPK and have related health benefits.38-42
For example, a study utilizing a mouse model of obesity found that by activating AMPK, G. pentaphyllum decreased body weight and cholesterol levels.39
More impressively, human studies have demonstrated metabolic and body fat improvements with G. pentaphyllum comparable to those seen with metformin.
A study published in the medical journal Obesityrandomized 80 overweight or obese subjects to receive either 450 mg per day of a G. pentaphyllum extract or a placebo.41
Over a 12-week period, several markers of body fat were reduced in those subjects receiving G. pentaphyllum. Total abdominal fat area, body weight, body fat mass, percent body fat, and body mass index were all reduced in the G. pentaphyllum group, compared to the placebo.
Although all excess body fat can have negative effects, abdominal fat has the strongest impact, significantly contributing to metabolic disease and all its harmful effects.43 Total abdominal fat was reduced by 6.3% over the 12-week period of this study.41
A compound found in citrus fruits called hesperidinhas also been found to increase AMPK activity.44-46
A study of mice fed a high fat diet demonstrated that hesperidin supplementation significantly reducedbody weight, body fat deposition, blood glucose, lipid levels, and insulin levels. It also reduced a measure of the degree of insulin resistance (the HOMA-IR index).45
In human studies, as well, hesperidin has demonstrated the benefits that come with AMPK stimulation.44,46 In one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, patients with metabolic syndrome, randomized to receive 500 mgof hesperidin per day, benefited from both improved blood vessel function and a reduction in circulating markers of systemic inflammation.46
By activating AMPK, both G. pentaphyllum and hesperidin can help bring high fasting insulin levels back under control.
The dangers of high blood glucose levels associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes are well known.
But there is another related, yet often undiagnosed threat.
Insulin resistance and high levels of fasting insulin—even in the absence of high glucose—can wreak havoc on our metabolism and lead to numerous long-term effects, ranging from high blood pressure to cancer.
This condition is often missed during routine blood testing that typically measures only markers of elevated glucose, not insulin. Low-cost fasting insulin blood testing can remedy this.
If it’s discovered, elevated fasting insulin can be corrected. Boosting the activity of the enzyme AMPK can help resolve metabolic abnormalities, improving insulin sensitivity and preventing the negative effects of high fasting insulin.
Exercise and dietary changes both help activate AMPK.
Medications such as metformin, and natural plant products, including G. pentaphyllum and hesperidin, have also been shown to have potent AMPK-activating effects.
Together, these interventions can help get high fasting insulin levels under control and prevent the downward spiral into chronic diseases, with which they are associated.
Fasting insulin has been added to the popular Maleand Female Blood Test Panels that many readers of this magazine have done annually. Until June 3, 2019, the cost of these comprehensive test panels is reduced to only $199.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.
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