Do you need to control glucose? There’s a drink for that, says a professor at the University of British Columbia.
As more people with diabetes and pre-diabetes seek novel strategies to control blood sugar, new research from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus suggests that ketone monoester drinks – a popular new dietary supplement – may do just that.
“There has been a lot of excitement and interest in ketone drinks and supplements that have only really been available in the market and to consumers for the past few years,” said Jonathan Little, associate professor at UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise and study director. “Because they are so new, there is very little research on how they can affect metabolism and we are among the first to study their use in non-athletes.”
Little says that type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot control the level of sugar in the blood because a hormone called insulin is not working properly.
“It is a disease that is becoming alarmingly common in Canada and is approaching what many would consider epidemic,” he says. “While type 2 diabetes can be controlled with drugs or injectable insulin, many people are looking for options that don’t require taking pills every day or that are less invasive.”
Ketone supplements are proving fertile ground for research into type 2 diabetes, as Little says ketones are the body’s natural fuel source in ketosis – the metabolic by-product of consuming a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet.
“There’s growing evidence that a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is very effective in controlling blood sugar and even reversing type 2 diabetes,” says Little. “We wanted to know what would happen if artificial ketones were given to people who were obese and at risk of type 2 diabetes but who weren’t on a diet.”
To test the idea, Little and his team asked 15 people to have a ketone drink after they fasted overnight. After 30 minutes, they were asked to drink a liquid containing 75 grams of sugar while taking blood samples.
“It found that the ketone drink seemed to put the participants in a kind of pseudoketogenic state where they could better control their blood sugar levels without changing their insulin,” explains Little. “It shows that these dietary supplements can have real potential as a valuable tool for people with type 2 diabetes.”
Little is quick to point out that ketone supplements aren’t a magic bullet in treating the disease.
“There are a number of problems that we have yet to solve, including the fact that we still don’t know what the long-term effects of using ketones will be,” he says. “And not to mention, the drink itself tastes absolutely terrible.”
“But for those unable to follow a strict and challenging ketogenic diet, or for those looking for a new way to control blood sugar, this may be another strategy for treating type 2 diabetes. “
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition with funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Reference: “A ketone monoester drink reduces the glycemic response to oral glucose load in obese subjects: a randomized trial” by Étienne Myette-Côté, Hannah G. Caldwell, Philip N. Ainslie, Kieran Clarke, and Jonathan P. Little on October 10, 2019 , American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
DOI: 10.1093 / ajcn / nqz232