The natural sweetener agavin, obtained from the agave plant that is also used to make the Mexican spirit Tequila, could help to decrease blood glucose levels of diabetes type 2 patients. Research on mice has shown that agavin has beneficial effects compared to other sweeteners. Mice that had been given agavin in their drinking water ate less, lost weight and had lower blood glucose levels. Agavin was compared to other sweeteners, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave syrup and aspartame.
Agavin consists of long branched fructose chains that can’t be broken down to monosaccharides in the body. Therefore, agavin, like dietary fibers, is not absorbed in the digestive tract. Agavin shouldn’t be confused with agave syrup, which only contains monosaccharides and no agavin. Agavin causes an increase in GLP-1 (glucagon-like-peptide 1) production, a hormone that causes the stomach to empty itself slowly. In the mice, this led to increased insulin production. This could be beneficial for diabetes type 2 patients. Dietary fibers are known to play a preventive role in the development of diabetes type 2. In addition, high dietary fiber intake in diabetes type 2 patients decreased blood glucose levels. It is unclear if this is caused by higher insulin production in these patients due to the high dietary fiber intake.
A lot of attention for diabetes
In Western countries diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases. There are 382 millions diabetes patients worldwide. This high number of patients and the expectation that this number will rise leads to great interest of the industry. Internet giant Google is developing a smart contact lens that can measure the blood glucose level in the eye fluid once every second. The user is warned when this level goes beyond a critical value, by a small led-light that switches on in the lens. In this way it ‘s easier for diabetes patients to anticipate on their blood glucose levels and take action in time. Great technical and clinical developments are to be expected in this field in the near future. The results with agavin provide opportunities for the food industry to produce products for people that want to live healthy or lose weight. If agavin will also prove to have positive effects in diabetes patients, this could lead to the development of products specifically for this group of patients.
Source: American Chemical Society, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, N Engl J Med.