How gymnema and chromium help regulate blood glucose
Metabolising carbohydrates produces simple sugars in the body, including glucose. Regulating these processes is fundamental to the correct functioning of our bodies’ cells and tissues. In this article, we explain why it’s important to maintain adequate glucose levels, and how to avoid high levels of glucose in the blood, which could be harmful to our health.
What is glycaemia?
The sugars we consume in our diets are transformed by our metabolism into other components such as glucose, which is transported to cells through the blood. Glucose provides cells and tissues with the energy they need to function 1. Blood glucose levels, known medically as glycaemia, vary throughout the day.
Glucose levels in the bloodstream are controlled by two hormones – insulin and glucagon – both synthesised by the pancreas. Insufficient insulin production, or incorrect assimilation of insulin by cells and tissues, known as insulin resistance, may result in high blood glucose levels2.
Meanwhile, glucagon regulates a lack of sugar in the body. This hormone plays a fundamental role in regulating glucose levels, promoting glucose production in the liver through various mechanisms. Insulin and glucagon maintain our blood glucose balance – any alteration in these hormones is associated with hyperglycaemic processes3.
If blood glucose levels drop too low (hypoglycaemia) or rise too high (hyperglycaemia), this can cause health problems 4. Symptoms of high blood glucose levels include a dry mouth, blurred vision, feeling fatigued, or feeling the need to urinate frequently 4. High blood glucose levels can also weaken our immune system, leading to increased risk of infection2.
Factors that contribute to high blood glucose levels
Possible causes of high blood sugar include an inadequate diet with too many sugars and refined carbohydrates, insufficient insulin production by the body, weight gain, consuming certain medications, lack of physical activity, certain diseases or high stress levels5.
Another factor that can cause high blood glucose levels is excessive insulin tolerance in our bodies. This is known as insulin resistance 3. Insulin resistance causes cells and tissues to fail to adequately respond to insulin, decreasing their ability to absorb glucose in the blood.
There are several ways to reduce blood glucose levels 7. One way is to modify your diet, reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates (sugars). Balanced diets such as the Mediterranean diet can help, featuring whole grains and healthy fats rich in high biological value proteins. Aerobic physical exercise also helps to lower blood sugar. This can include walking, running, cycling, swimming or yoga7.
Role of chromium in glucose absorption
Chromium has been shown to play a role in regulating blood glucose levels, helping to maintain normal blood glucose levels 8. This is because it contributes to improving the action of insulin and therefore reduces the insulin resistance of tissues and cells 9. Low levels of chromium in the body are linked to high levels of glucose in the bloodstream10.
Although chromium is required for the proper functioning of metabolic pathways, since it plays a role in the metabolism of sugars and lipids, our diets tend to be low in chromium 9. Chromium supplements have been shown to help maintain normal blood glucose levels11.
Gymnema, a plant that helps maintain normal blood glucose levels12
Gymnema is the common name for the climbing plant Gymnema sylvestre R. Br., which is native to various parts of Asia, Africa and Oceania. It has traditionally been used in areas where it is a native plant, such as India. In Hindi, the plant is called ‘gurmar’, which means ‘sugar destroyer’, because of the properties traditionally attributed to it in India12.
Gymnema leaves contain an organic compound called gymnemic acid, which temporarily suppresses the taste receptors on the tongue that detect sweetness, but without affecting perception of other flavours 13. This means that it temporarily inhibits our appetite 14 for sweet foods, aiding weight control programmes by reducing appetite as well as calorie intake 15,16. Other components of gymnema leaves include terpenoid saponins and flavonoids.
Besides inhibiting our perception of sweet tastes, gymnemic acid binds to intestinal cell receptors, which helps reduce the absorption of sugars . This is why consuming gymnema leaves helps maintain normal blood glucose levels18.
On Anastore’s website, we offer a food supplement that contains dry extract of gymnema leaves (with high gymnemic acid content) and chromium. Both gymnemic acid and chromium help maintain normal blood glucose levels. This is a premium quality product that is free from allergens and genetically modified organisms.
- Gurung and Jialal (2021). Plasma Glucose. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
- Wilcox (2005). Insulin and Insulin Resistance. Clinical Biochemist Reviews. 26(2): 19–39.
- Jiang and Zhang (2003). Glucagon and regulation of glucose metabolism. American Journal Of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism. 296(3):E415-21.
- Naegeli et al. (2010). A psychometric evaluation of the Diabetes Symptom Checklist-Revised (DSC-R) cognitive distress, fatigue, hyperglycemia, and hypoglycemia subscales in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 14(6): 1889–1894.
- Good to Know: Factors Affecting Blood Glucose. Clinical Diabetes. 36(2):202. 1 - Cefalu and Hu (2004). Role of Chromium in Human Health and in Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 27(11): 2741-2751.
- Davies et al. (2018). Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes, 2018. A Consensus Report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). Diabetes Care. 41(12): 2669–2701.
- Reglamento UE 432/2012:establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health.
- Anderson (1997). Chromium as an essential nutrient for humans. Regulatory Toxicology Pharmacology. 26(1 Pt 2):S35-41.
- Anderson (2000). Chromium in the prevention and control of diabetes. Diabetes & Metabolism. 26(1):22-7.
- Sharma et al. (2011). Beneficial effect of chromium supplementation on glucose, HbA1C and lipid variables in individuals with newly onset type-2 diabetes. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 25(3):149-53.
- Extracted from the European Comission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 2642).