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Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
The Universal Antioxidant That Helps Use Your Blood Sugar for Energy
Alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is a naturally occurring compound that's made in the body. It serves vital functions at the cellular level, such as energy production. As long as you're healthy, the body can produce all the ALA it needs for these purposes. Despite that fact, there has been a lot of recent interest in using ALA supplements. Advocates of ALA make claims that range from beneficial effects for treating conditions such as diabetes and HIV to enhancing weight loss.
Research on the effects of ALA supplementation is sparse. What there is, though, does suggest some possible benefits. Here is what's known about the potential health benefits of using alpha-lipoic acid supplements.
ALA, the Antioxidant
ALA is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against damage to the body's cells.
There are food sources of ALA such as yeast, organ meats like liver and heart, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. However, ALA from food does not appear to produce a noticeable increase in the level of free ALA in the body.
Some people take ALA supplements with the intent to improve a variety of health conditions. Scientific evidence for the health benefit of supplemental ALA has been inconclusive.
Studies show that about 30% to 40% of the oral dose of an ALA supplement is absorbed. ALA may be better absorbed if it is taken on an empty stomach.
ALA and Diabetes
While studies are still sparse, there is some evidence that ALA may have at least two positive benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes. A few studies have suggested that alpha-lipoic acid supplements may enhance the body's ability to use its own insulin to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. ALA may help reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy -- nerve damage that can be caused by diabetes.
In Europe, ALA has been used for years to provide relief from the pain, burning, tingling, and numbing caused by diabetic neuropathy. In particular, one large study strongly suggested that large intravenous doses of ALA were effective at relieving symptoms. But the evidence for oral doses is not as strong. More research is needed to establish the effectiveness of oral ALA supplements for diabetic neuropathy.
ALA has been suggested as a potential aid in stopping or slowing the damage done by a variety of other health conditions from HIV to liver disease. However, much of the research is still early and evidence isn't conclusive.
There has also been recent interest in supplemental ALA for weight loss. But again, there is no evidence that ALA has any effect on weight loss in humans, and more research needs to be done.
Side Effects and Precautions of ALA Supplement
Side effects from using ALA supplements appear to be rare and mild, such as skin rash. However, little is known about the possible effect of long-term use of ALA supplements. And there are no dosage recommendations and little data on the potential effect of large doses taken over time.
ALA should not be used without a recommendation from your doctor if you take insulin or other medications to lower blood sugar. It's possible that it can enhance the effect of these drugs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Discuss the use of supplemental ALA with your doctor first. Your doctor may recommend that you increase monitoring of blood sugar levels. The doctor may also want to make an adjustment in your medication.
Because no studies have been done on the effect of using ALA during pregnancy, you should not use it if pregnant. Also, there are no data about its use by children, so children should not take ALA supplements.
u don’t have to be a diabetic to suffer post-meal blood sugar spikes. It happens to everyone from time to time. And although it may be common, it certainly isn’t good.
Each spike can cause undetectable damage inside your body. Diabetes or no diabetes…over time it can add up in all sorts of ways. Spikes can cause damage to nerves, vision, and organs including your kidneys and liver.1 They cause inflammation and cell damage that can lead to advanced aging, heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.2
But there is good news. It is preventable. Even if you have diabetes.
Researchers have found a potent nutrient that may halt those post-meal spikes.3
In a recent study, 57 diabetics took either 300mg of the nutrient or a placebo daily, for eight weeks. Researchers took blood samples from the subjects after an overnight fast and two hours after breakfast. And the results… The group that took the nutrient had significant decreases in fasting and post-meal sugar levels.
So what helped these patients turn their sugar into energy?
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA).
ALA is called the “Universal Antioxidant.” And it is just that. It is both fat- and water-soluble. That means it can work throughout the entire body.4 It prevents cell damage caused by free radicals—the same sort of damage caused by sugar spikes. It can even help recycle other antioxidants, so your body can continue using them for protection.
And its anti-diabetes properties don’t end there…
3 Foods to Eat to Convert Blood Sugar to Energy
Pumpkin Seeds – They are loaded with magnesium. And recent studies show diets that had the highest amounts of magnesium lowered metabolic syndrome by 31 percent.11 The mineral improves the body’s ability to use insulin. And helps regulate blood sugar. The more magnesium people had, the lower the insulin levels.
Berries – They are a superfood when turning sugar into energy. They are an easy addition to any diet. And sometimes satisfies those sweet tooth cravings. The ones that usually set us over the edge. But with a low glycemic index you can’t go wrong with berries. Plus, they are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. All great for controlling sugar spikes.
Lean Meat and Fish – Packed with healthy fats such as omega-3 it helps fight inflammation. Meat also helps enable insulin to function properly. With meat you don’t have to worry about raising blood glucose levels. And that helps carbohydrates metabolize burning blood sugar into energy. Just remember to buy organic or grass fed.
It helps prevent diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage).5 And it relieves the uncomfortable numbing, tingling, and burning throughout the body.6
ALA is a fatty acid found in every cell in your body.7 It helps blood sugar levels stay normal by increasing insulin sensitivity.8 How? By burning sugar into energy.
What’s more, studies have shown that ALA can help treat all components of metabolic syndrome.9 ALA not only lowers insulin resistance, but aids weight loss, balances cholesterol and helps lower blood pressure.10
So regardless of whether you’ve ever had an issue with blood sugar before, you should always be focused on keeping it balanced. Avoid spikes by staying away from high carbohydrate foods with little nutritional value. And for ultimate protection—take an ALA supplement.
ALA can help stop damage in its tracks before you ever have to see it or feel it. The universal antioxidant is also proving to be the universal healer.