Nutritional supplements may help individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes improve their health

Millions of people across the country take nutritional supplements to support various areas of their health. Now, new research suggests that these products may help improve the metabolic health of individuals at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and enable them to avoid the condition entirely.

The findings could have important implications, as nutritional supplements could represent a simple and inexpensive therapy that has an extremely low risk of side effects. Most current therapies for type 2 diabetes and its risk factors carry a significant risk of side effects.

For the study, a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles administered nutritional supplements containing an amino acid-like molecule known as GABA to laboratory mice that were overweight, had high levels of insulin resistance and were at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

The results, which were published in the journal PLoS ONE, showed that the metabolic health of these mice significantly improved following treatment with the nutritional supplement. Measures of systemic inflammation, which is a major risk factor for several chronic conditions commonly seen in obese individuals, were reduced.

Furthermore, the researchers noted a major improvement in the mice's insulin sensitivity. Many of the animals that were at risk for developing type 2 diabetes were able to avoid the condition.

Nutritional supplements containing GABA could come to play an important role in the treatment of individuals who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers said. While it may be able to replace most pharmaceuticals currently used to treat the condition, it could represent one more method that individuals with prediabetes can use to improve their health.