Supplementing the diet with fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may be beneficial to diabetics.
After an eight-week study, diabetics who had added CLA to their diets not only had lower body mass and blood sugar levels, but also lower levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates fat levels. High levels of leptin may play a role in obesity, which is one of the biggest risk factors for adult-onset diabetes.
Previous studies in rats have found that CLA delayed the onset of diabetes. The current human study found the fatty acid improved the management of adult-onset diabetes.
CLA is composed of various fatty acid isomers, each of which can have different effects. One CLA isomer, t10c12-CLA (which is sometimes called the 10-12 isomer), played a role in controlling both body weight and leptin levels.
The study involved 21 people with adult-onset diabetes, who took either a supplement with a mix of rumenic acid, a primary isomer in CLA-containing foods, and 10-12 isomer or a safflower oil supplement.
After taking the supplements daily for eight weeks, fasting blood glucose levels decreased nearly five-fold in patients taking CLA, compared to patients taking the safflower oil.
Nine of the 11 people in the CLA supplement group had decreased blood glucose levels, compared with two of the 10 in the safflower group. This led researchers to suspect that the CLA was helping to manage certain diabetes symptoms.
Researchers say that the ideal way to get CLA is from food sources such as beef, lamb and dairy products. Although CLA is available in supplements, the long-term effects of taking CLA in this form are unknown.
Science Daily January 29, 2003