Carbohydrates raise blood sugar more than any other macronutrient so diabetics often reduce them to help manage blood sugar levels. Fats, such as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, have been getting attention for possibly having beneficial effects for diabetics. However, research is mixed in CLA's ability to help diabetics.
Researchers from Penn State College investigated the impact of CLA consumption in mice prone to type 2 diabetes. They discovered that mice taking CLA triggered PPAR receptors, which in turn activated proteins that improve insulin action and enhance glucose metabolism. This works in a similar way as diabetic medications, according to the Science Daily website.
Body Weight and Leptin
In research reported in the January 2003 issue of the “Journal of Nutrition,” scientists from Ohio State University and Purdue University explored the effects of CLA on body weight and leptin, a hormone associated with reducing hunger. Type 2 diabetic participants consumed 8 g of mixed CLA isomers or 8 g of safflower for eight weeks. Scientists found that the trans10cis12-CLA isomer, not the cis9trans11-CLA isomer, was effective in lowering body weight and improving leptin levels in the body. Most CLA products on the market contain a mixture of both CLA isomers.
Scientists from Trinity Centre for Health Sciences and St. James Hospital examined the effects of CLA on insulin sensitivity, which improves cellular glucose uptake. Diabetic subjects consumed 3 g of CLA or a placebo for eight weeks and then underwent a glucose tolerance test, ingesting 75 g of glucose. Researchers discovered that the CLA group experienced increases in glucose levels and reduced insulin sensitivity compared to the placebo group, according to research published in the October 2004 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”
In findings reported in the September 2002 issue of the journal “Diabetes Care,” researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden explored the impact of trans10cis12-CLA isomer on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in obese men with mild diabetes. Participants were assigned to one of the following groups: 3.4 g of mixed CLA isomers; 3.4 g of trans10cis12-CLA isomer; or a placebo. Researchers discovered that the 3.4 g of trans10cis12-CLA isomer group experienced an increase in insulin resistance, a condition in which cells do not use insulin efficiently compared to the other groups.