1. Georgetown University Medical Center, Department of Physiology, Washington, D.C. 20057, USA
2. Department of Pharmacy Sciences, Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68178, USA
3. Advocare International, Carrollton, TX 75006, USA
Rapid gastrointestinal absorption of refined carbohydrates (CHO) is linked to perturbed glucose-insulin metabolism that is, in turn, associated with many chronic health disorders. We assessed the ability of various natural substances, commonly referred to as “CHO blockers,” to influence starch and sucrose absorption in vivo in ninety-six rats and two pigs. These natural enzyme inhibitors of amylase/sucrase reportedly lessen breakdown of starches and sucrose in the gastrointestinal tract, limiting their absorption. To estimate absorption, groups of nine SD rats were gavaged with water or water plus rice starch and/or sucrose; and circulating glucose was measured at timed intervals thereafter. For each variation in the protocol a total of at least nine different rats were studied with an equal number of internal controls on three different occasions. The pigs rapidly drank CHO and inhibitors in their drinking water. In rats, glucose elevations above baseline over four hours following rice starch challenge as estimated by area-under-curve (AUC) were 40%, 27%, and 85% of their internal control after ingesting bean extract, hibiscus extract, and l-arabinose respectively in addition to the rice starch. The former two were significantly different from control. L-Arabinose virtually eliminated the rising circulating glucose levels after sucrose challenge, whereas hibiscus and bean extracts were associated with lesser decreases than l-arabinose that were still significantly lower than control. The glucose elevations above baseline over four hours in rats receiving sucrose (AUC) were 51%, 43% and 2% of control for bean extract, hibiscus extract, and L-arabinose, respectively. Evidence for dose-response of bean and hibiscus extracts is reported. Giving the natural substances minus CHO challenge caused no significant changes in circulating glucose concentrations, indicating no major effects on overall metabolism. A formula combining these natural products significantly decreased both starch and sucrose absorption, even when the CHO were given simultaneously. These results support the hypothesis that the enzyme inhibitors examined here at reasonable doses can safely lower the glycemic loads starch and sucrose.
Keywords: starch blockers, bean and hibiscus extracts, sucrose blockers, L-arabinose, hibiscus extract