Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity

January 25th, 2011

Sixty-seven percent of overweight and pre-diabetic adults who drank two blueberry smoothies a day experienced a ten percent or greater improvement in their insulin sensitivity in just six weeks. The pre-diabetic adults, who were taking part in a study conducted by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at the Louisiana State University System, had high insulin levels, but not type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of the disease, affecting more than 26 million Americans. Diabetes two occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin, or can not properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose, the basic fuel for the body's cells, for energy. A lack of or resistance to insulin can result in high blood sugar levels.

The 15 of the 32 members of the study group who drank smoothies containing 22.5 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder grew more responsive to insulin than the members of the group who were given smoothies without the blueberry powder.

A 2006 Canadian study of the effect of wild blueberry juice on middle-aged overweight men also showed improvements in insulin sensitivity. The participants were given just over a cup (250 ml) of blueberry juice a day for just three weeks. The Canadian study, conducted at the University of Prince Edward Island, also suggested blueberries played a role in reducing inflammation. Researchers can't yet say how blueberries are able to improve insulin sensitivity. One theory is that compounds in blueberries called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties, may play a role.

People produce less insulin as they age, increasing their risk of diabetes two. An increased sensitivity to insulin can allow older people and pre-diabetics to use the insulin their body does produce to its best effect, warding off diabetes and the accompanying increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other diseases.

Classic diabetes 2 symptoms are increased urination, thirst, hunger, fatigue and weight loss. Type 2 diabetes is an incurable condition that will progress if left untreated. Diabetes type 2 treatment usually involves changes in diet and regular exercise, but type 2 diabetes patients may require the use of diabetes medication as the disease progresses. The day may come when type 2 diabetics are prescribed the humble diabetes preventing blueberry. The less common type 1 diabetes (once referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes) is characterized by the body's inability to produce enough insulin. Although they can still enjoy blueberries, type 1 diabetes patients will have to rely on insulin injection to manage their disease for the foreseeable future.