A fitness drink could become a new anti-diabetic
A drinkable ketone supplement may be an aid in controlling blood glucose numbers in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes advances by leaps and bounds. Worldwide, there are more than 422 million people affected (just over five million in Spain alone), for whom keeping their glucose levels under control is essential to avoid very serious complications (blindness, kidney problems, amputations of limbs, etc), even death.
Diet is the first pillar for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (adult diabetes), the most common and strongly related to overweight and obesity and to lifestyle. If the diet is not enough, drugs must be used. Even so, success is not guaranteed.
This reason justifies the enthusiasm of a team of researchers at the University British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, who suggest that ketone monoester drinks - a nutritional supplement known in the world of fitness and weight loss diets - can help control glucose levels.
These are new supplements whose long-term metabolic effects are unknown. Since these supplements have only recently been on the market, there is not yet an in-depth understanding of their effects, although scientists are beginning to discover some of their properties.
"Because they are so new, there is very little research on how they can influence metabolism, and our team is among the first to look at their use in non-athletes," says Jonathan Little, an associate professor at the UBC School of Health and Exercise. The researcher says that type 2 diabetes is reaching "epidemic levels" in Canada, and many of those affected reject drug treatment to control glucose and prefer "other options that they consider less invasive.
Effects of ketosis
Ketone supplements are proving to be a fertile ground for research in type 2 diabetes because, according to Little, ketones are the body's natural source of fuel when it is in ketosis (the metabolic consequence of a ketogenic diet). "There is growing evidence that a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is very effective in controlling blood sugar and even reversing type 2 diabetes," he explains.
Little's team set out to find out what would happen if artificial ketones were given to people who are obese and at risk for type 2 diabetes, but who have not been on a diet. To do this, they asked 15 individuals to consume a ketone drink after fasting overnight. After 30 minutes, they were asked to drink a sugary liquid (75 grams of sugar) while their blood samples were taken.
The professor details that "the ketone drink seemed to throw the participants into a kind of pseudo-ketogenic state where they could better control their blood sugar levels without changes in their insulin," a finding that, in his opinion, "shows that these supplements can have real potential as a therapeutic tool for people with type 2 diabetes.
These results are reported in a paper published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Despite the attraction of this possibility, the scientists make it clear that ketone supplements cannot be considered miraculous in controlling this metabolic disorder.
"There are a number of problems we have yet to solve, including the fact that we don't know what the long-term effects of ketone consumption are," the study's lead author admits. However, he reiterates that this type of drink is an alternative that can help control type 2 diabetes.
But you have to know that "the drink itself tastes absolutely terrible," not to mention the bad breath characteristic of ketosis. A few years ago, numerous ketogenic supplements appeared, such as raspberry ketones, which caused a furor among those seeking rapid weight loss. Nutritionists were wary of these 'miracle pills' and warned that more research was needed to prove their effectiveness and safety.