OLDER adults are at high risk for the development of Type 2 Diabetes, due to the combined effects of increasing insulin resistance and impaired pancreatic function with ageing1.
Insulin is an essential hormone that controls blood sugar levels and is made in the pancreas. It helps move sugar from the blood into cells for storage. When cells are insulin resistant, they can’t use insulin effectively, leaving blood sugar levels high. Prolonged high blood sugar can damage nerves and organs.
Although working-age adults are commonly affected, older persons up to the age of 65 have the highest prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes of any age-group. This group also suffers the highest incidence of Diabetes-related amputations, renal and vision decline and cardiovascular disease.
To date, the darker berries, such as blackcurrant and bilberry, have shown the most convincing results for their effect on glucose metabolism.
Reducing sugar intake, eating a balanced diet rich in highly coloured fruits and vegetables, and undertaking regular activity are key to protecting health against conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes as we age.
Berries are an important component of a healthy diet, because their natural anthocyanins and antioxidants have demonstrated a broad spectrum of biomedical functions.
Anthocyanins in the darker berries help reduce the blood glucose response to sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Additionally, darker berries reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which, left uncontrolled, are damaging to health and implicated in conditions such as Diabetes.
Last year, Liverpool John Moores University2 showed how a week’s intake of CurraNZ (two capsules a day) reduced post-meal blood sugar by 9% and improved insulin sensitivity by a staggering 22%. Additionally, it reduced obesity-driven inflammation linked to insulin resistance by 24%. The study was performed in sedentary, overweight adults who were not considered metabolically unhealthy.
Dr Sam Shepherd, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, who led the study, said: “These latest research findings are really exciting, with the potential of New Zealand blackcurrant extract to have an even greater effect in unhealthy people and those with Type 2 diabetes.
“We know that exercise and specific diets can improve insulin sensitivity, and CurraNZ provides another approach. The big difference is its implementation, as unlike exercise and diet, taking two blackcurrant capsules a day doesn’t require a lot of effort from the user.”
These findings on CurraNZ were supported by a recent clinical study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland3, showing blackcurrants had a beneficial effect on post-meal glucose responses. They concluded that sugar consumed with blackcurrants is not as unhealthy as sugar consumed without berries.