Curcumin, Krill Oil and the risk of diabetes

Metabolic Syndrome is a recently identified and increasingly common health condition. It is characterized by an increase in abdominal fat. Blood tests show elevated triglycerides as well as cholesterol and often borderline high blood sugar.

Metabolic Syndrome is associated with an increased risk of developing Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease and other diseases of aging.

It has been my standard practice over the past several years to recommend a moderately low-carbohydrate diet for people with this condition. Certain supplements, to help normalize blood sugar, increase detoxification, and other products based on individual circumstances can also be of use.

Following these simple steps, my patients often notice rapid and significant improvements and blood tests quickly normalize. Recent studies show that two simple and readily available supplements can further enhance the process of reversing Metabolic Syndrome.

The first study looked at curcumin, an extract of the Indian spice turmeric. Curcumin had already been studied in a number of settings, including at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, where it was found to have powerful anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer effects.

The study on diabetes prevention can be found at

In this study, people with high risk factors for developing diabetes were assigned either to a placebo or to the supplement curcumin. Over a period of three months, those taking the placebo went on to develop diabetes at the anticipated rate, whereas no one taking curcumin did so.

The authors of this study clarify that his was a small study and more research is warranted. The results are nevertheless impressive and, given the other known benefits of this spice, I would have no trouble recommending it as part of an overall program for someone facing the risk of developing diabetes.

Another study evaluated the beneficial effects of krill oil on a variety of abnormal blood findings associated with increased risk of developing diabetes, including elevated triglycerides and glucose. While glucose is blood sugar and is clearly associated with diabetes, high triglycerides are also an established risk factor for diabetes.

The study assigned people at random to take low-dose krill oil (1-1.5 g/day), high-dose krill oil (2-3 g/day), fish oil (3 g/day) or a placebo. There were no benefits of course from the placebo, and beneficial effects from fish oil were minimal. However, both low and high-dose krill oil produced significant changes. Benefits were greater in the high-dose group and included a 30% drop in triglycerides (Altern Med Rev 2004;9(4):420-428).

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