The percentage of overweight individuals has been steadily increasing over the last 30 years. Although most of us understand the need to lose weight, actually doing it can be very difficult. Even those with commendable willpower can find dieting in the western world to be difficult. Most of it comes back to the foods we eat and a condition called insulin resistance.
Introduction to Insulin
After we eat a meal our food gets broken down into smaller components like proteins, fats, and sugars. Glucose is one of the more important sugars in the body as it is used by our cells to create energy. Glucose circulating in our bloodstream prompts the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin functions by allowing glucose to be removed from the blood stream and taken up by cells.
Refined carbohydrates (found in many western foods including pasta, bread, and sugary snacks) are broken down into glucose very quickly. This creates a sharp increase in blood glucose levels and causes the pancreas to release massive amounts of insulin, often in excess.
Insulin Resistance and Weight Loss
This excess insulin when present year after year causes cells to become less sensitive (or resistant) to the effects of insulin. The situation is only made worse as insulin resistant cells can cause blood glucose levels to remain high, resulting in even more insulin release by the pancreas. Chronically high blood glucose levels can eventually lead to diabetes. But chronically high blood insulin levels can also be harmful.
In addition to helping glucose enter cells, insulin also dictates whether fat is burned or stored. Low insulin usually means little glucose is present for energy, so cells burn their fat stores instead. High insulin means glucose – and therefore energy – is plentiful and fat can be stored for later use. Those with insulin resistance will therefore have a harder time losing weight because their blood insulin levels are consistently high, resulting in less fat being burned.
Banaba Leaf Regulates Blood Sugar
Banaba leaf has been used for years in India as a treatment for diabetes. In recent years researchers have identified the active ingredient in banaba leaves responsible for helping diabetics: corosolic acid. Corosolic acid is much like insulin in its ability to help cells absorb glucose. It is thought that those with insulin resistance will not be resistant to the actions of corosolic acid, allowing greater absorption of glucose and a subsequent decrease in insulin production.
Researchers attempting to prove the blood sugar-regulating effects of banaba leaf noticed an interesting effect. A group of people with Type II diabetes given banaba extract for 8 weeks not only exhibited modulated blood sugar levels but also lost an average of 2 to 4 pounds per month without any dietary changes.
Adding Banaba to Your Diet
Since Banaba plants don’t grow in western countries, it’s easiest to incorporate it into your diet through the use of supplements. It has been shown that dosages of 8-48 mg of banaba leaf extract per day can moderate blood sugar levels enough to aid in significant weight loss.