Researchers are regularly looking for new treatments for diabetes. With more than 371 million people around the world being diagnosed with the disease, 90 percent of those individuals have Type 2 diabetes.1 A recent study has found that an amino acid, arginine, can improve glucose metabolism in lean and obese mice. Although these findings are just the beginning, it signifies promising possibilities in the future of diabetic treatments.
What is arginine?
This amino acid plays an important role in helping the body make proteins, and can be found in a number of foods.2 Additionally, arginine can be made into medications. Previous uses of the amino acid include:
- Preventing the common cold
- Improving kidney function following transplant
- Treating high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Preventing inflammation in the digestive tracts of premature infants
- Boosting the immune system
There are a number of other health concerns that arginine may be effective for, however, there has not been sufficient evidence to support the claims. Naturally, individuals may boost their intake of the amino acid by enjoying:
- Dairy products
- Red meats
So, how might this compound help diabetics?
Improved glucose tolerance
Professionals from the University of Copenhagen worked with researchers at the University of Cincinnati to see what effects arginine had on both lean and obese mice who had glucose intolerances.
"We have demonstrated that both lean and fat laboratory mice benefit considerably from arginine supplements," postdoc Christoffer Clemmensen said in a statement. "In fact, we improved glucose metabolism by as much as 40 percent in both groups. We can also see that arginine increases the body's production of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), an intestinal hormone which plays an important role in regulating appetite and glucose metabolism, and which is therefore used in numerous drugs from treating Type 2 diabetes."
Based on this information, researchers believe that it is likely that arginine may be beneficial when used in pharmaceutical and nutritional therapies for treating glucose intolerance in patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.3 However, further investigations are needed.
1 University of Copenhagen, "Amino acid with promising anti-diabetic effects" September 10, 2013
2 National Institutes of Health, "L-arginine" March 21, 2012
3 Endocrinology, "Oral l-arginine stimulates GLP-1 secretion to improve glucose tolerance in male mice" August 5, 2013