You Don't Need Supplements to Reduce Glucose Spikes

Glucose Goddess has announced the launch of Anti-Spike Formula, a supplement to reduce glucose spikes. But are these spikes a matter of concern for people without diabetes? We asked several experts.

French biochemist Jessie Inchauspé, the self-proclaimed Glucose Goddess who has over three million followers on Instagram, is best known for her hacks to reduce blood sugar levels that spike after eating.

Inchauspé has said the benefits of flattening the glucose curve range from reduced cancer risk to type 2 diabetes remission and improved brain function.

One way to do it, according to Inchauspé, is eating foods in a particular order — vegetables first, followed by protein or fat, and carbohydrates at the end. She is also a proponent of incorporating vinegar into a daily routine, such as drinking it before meals.

While Inchauspé says she turns cutting-edge science into easy tips to feel better, some nutrition experts are skeptical about her methods. Unsurprisingly, the announcement of her blood sugar level regulating supplement made waves in their community.

Concerns over safety and effectiveness

The Anti-Spike Formula, which will reach its first customers in April 2024, contains four ingredients: white mulberry leaf, lemon extract, cinnamon extract, and Glucose Goddess antioxidants, defined as a concentrated blend of multiple vegetable extracts.

According to the product's website, if taken before the meal, the supplement can help to reduce spikes in blood sugar and insulin by up to 40%, as well as cut cravings, reduce hunger, and sustain energy.

Priya Tew, a specialist dietitian from the United Kingdom, says the supplement is unregulated and untested. While there is some evidence for some of the individual herbs, these have not been tested as a mixed supplement.

"The evidence we do have is very low grade; a lot of it is small-scale studies and short-term research. The supplement is making claims that have not been properly tested, and we do not know the long-term impact of taking this," she tells Healthnews.

For example, the most extensive study on white mulberry benefits — a systematic review of 12 clinical trials — concluded that mulberry leaf extract and mulberry leaves could improve fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels in patients with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes. However, the potential benefits may not extend to healthy individuals.

According to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon was demonstrated to be effective in regulating blood glucose levels compared to placebo for people with obesity-related pre-diabetes. However, the study was small — it included only 18 participants who consumed a diet low in fiber and polyphenols throughout the intervention. This could potentially explain why polyphenol-rich cinnamon was effective.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements as food, not drugs. This means that despite containing ingredients that may have strong biological effects, supplements undergo less rigorous scrutiny than medications.

Although there are clinical trials showing the benefits of individual ingredients, supplements themselves must be tested for safety and effectiveness, Dr. Nicola Guess, an academic dietitian and researcher at the University of Oxford, writes in her blog post. For instance, one ingredient may prevent the absorption of or neutralize another ingredient.

She writes, "Even if you knew that one ingredient on its own is safe, it doesn't mean that potentially deleterious properties of that ingredient could not be exacerbated by the presence of another bioactive within the same tablet."

For individuals at low risk of diabetes, additional supplements are not typically needed to prevent blood sugar spikes, says Dr. Colleen Tewksbury, an assistant professor in nutrition science at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Dr. Colleen Tewksbury
Dr. Colleen Tewksbury

"Your endocrine system is well-equipped to regulate blood glucose. If you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and have elevated blood sugars, some research suggests regular supplementation of cinnamon could help lower blood sugars," she explains.

Inchauspé responded to criticism on Instagram by saying that the supplement is an addition to other means of glycemic control and emphasized that "fixing your food is always the place to start, and Anti-Spike does not replace all our food hacks."

Healthnews reached out to Inchauspé but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

What are glucose spikes?

Blood sugar or glucose is the body's primary source of energy produced from carbohydrates present in food. While foods we consume can have a major effect on blood sugar levels, physical activity and stress, among many other factors, can also impact blood glucose levels. A glucose spike, or a rapid increase in blood sugar, often occurs after eating foods high in carbohydrates.

Fluctuating glucose levels are a natural response to eating food, Tew explains. While having high glucose levels all the time may have long-term health effects, this does not mean that some variability is an issue.

We would expect an increase in blood glucose after eating a slice of cake or some white pasta. That is natural. It is not something that needs a supplement as our bodies make insulin, which has the job of bringing our blood glucose levels down.

Priya Tew

Glucose spikes can be a concern for people with diabetes, as their body may not be responding to the insulin, or it may not be making enough. However, they may need to take an insulin dose or another diabetes treatment and should be under the supervision of a health care provider.

Tew adds, "Taking supplements without this approach treats the symptoms, but not the underlying cause, and could be dangerous."

In her experiments, Inchauspé wears a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a small device that gives real-time data on blood glucose levels. CGMs are FDA-approved for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and could potentially be used in diagnosing prediabetes, although more clinical trials are needed.

Dr. Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian, and the Aston Medical School lead for Nutrition and Evidence-Based Medicine, points to the problematic relationship between glucose monitoring and the symptoms linked to its spikes.

Mellor explains that a finger prick measures capillary glucose, which is a marker of central glucose in the arteries. Meanwhile, brain fog is associated with glucose in the cerebrospinal fluid found within the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

"It is not directly measuring changes in glucose that matter, and it's very hard to do it from a scientific point of view. We don't know if we're measuring the right thing. Even if sensors show glucose spikes, we might not see changes in brain glucose levels. The link between these changes and all these symptoms is not proven," Mellor tells Healthnews.

Maintaining healthy glucose levels

We do not always need to reduce glucose spikes, Tew says, as they are natural, and our bodies produce insulin that will bring down the glucose levels in our blood, transporting it into cells instead.

Having balanced meals helps blood sugar management. When eating food that will cause elevated levels of blood sugar, Tew recommends adding protein and fiber to the meal to lower the rise in blood glucose. For example, consider adding chicken and non-starchy vegetables to a pasta meal.

For healthy individuals, the best way to keep the endocrine system functioning well and preventing blood sugar spikes is to maintain a healthy body weight and engage in regular physical activity, according to Tewksbury.

She says, "Physical activity improves insulin sensitivity, can reduce blood sugar for up to 24 hours after the workout, and is a wonderful place to start."

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