The World Health Organization estimates 162 million people worldwide suffer from Type 2 diabetes and, unfortunately, that number is expected to double by 2030. And in the United States, 23.6 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes while another 57 million Americans are on the verge of developing the disease according to the National Institutes of Health. Further, it is estimated that type 2 diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and that 25% of the people that have the disease do not know they have it. Fortunately, people fighting (or on the verge of) Type 2 diabetes might have a new weapon – Resveratrol. In two recent human studies, resveratrol has been proven to increase insulin sensitivity and lower glucose levels in the blood (note: reduced insulin sensitivity combined with reduced insulin secretion are the two main causes of Type 2 diabetes while abnormally high blood glucose levels are the result). Specifically, one study reported by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals gave diabetic patients either 1.25 grams or 2.5 grams of resveratrol two times per day. The 1.25 gram regimen exhibited a strong trend in lowering blood glucose levels both while fasting and after meals, while the 2.5 gram regimen was statistically significant in showing the same results. In an earlier study also conducted by Sirtris, either 2.5 or 5 grams of resveratrol were given to type 2 diabetic patients once per day. In this study, the diabetic patients experienced significantly lowered glucose levels.
UPDATE: a recent study presented at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association revealed resveratrol supplementation can increase insulin sensitivity in both overweight and older adults - More human evidence that resveratrol may help to prevent or treat diabete.
UPDATE: another recent study revealed that resveratrol might fight Type 1 diabetes (in addition to Type 2 diabetes). Specifically, scientists at Northwestern University concluded resveratrol exhibited altered expression of inflammatory genes (whereas the control group not given resveratrol did not). For their part, the mice given resveratrol showed dramatic decrease in expression of the Ccr6 gene and the inhibition of CCR6-mediated migration of inflammatory cells. Thus, according to the study’s authors, “…resveratrol may provide a powerful approach for treatment of type 1 diabetes and possibly of other inflammatory diseases”.
So How Does Resveratrol Increase Insulin Sensitivity?
It is believed that resveratrol’s activation of the SIRT1 gene is responsible for improved insulin sensitivity. To accomplish this, the SIRT1 gene silences the expression of protein(s) that are negative regulators of insulin action. Several studies have further substantiated SIRT1’s role in increasing insulin sensitivity; specifically, studies found that SIRT1 is down-regulated in insulin resistant cells and that resveratrol (a proven SIRT1 activator) improves insulin sensitivity.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes: