When flipping through a celebrity magazine (waiting in line at grocery store) I stumbled upon an interesting advertisement that got my attention. The ad was for a popular supplement called Mulberry Zuccarin. Want to decrease your sugar cravings? Inhibit your bodies response to carbohydrates? Stabalize blood sugar levels, and lose fat? Take Mulberry Zucarrin and you can do all of this!
I was intrigued, so I decided to look for reviews or medical journals with published studies about the product but research was difficult to find. The supplement was created by a company named New Nordic and is called Mulberry Zuccarin, and it became available on the US market in February of 2010. Here are a few of the claims straight from the company website….
Claim #1 – Japense Mulberry Leaves are Natural, and Have Many Curative Properties
“Mulberry Zuccarin is a natural product, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It is based on the leaves of Japanese Mulberry trees, which have been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries. The Japanese have been drinking Mulberry Tea for its curative properties for over 700 years”
- This is true. Mulberry Zuccarin is a natural product and in root form has been used for hundreds of years in Japan
Claim #2 – Mulberry Zuccarin Acts as a Carbohydrate Blocker and Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
“The Mulberry leaf contains a natural substance called DNJ (1-deoxynojirimycin), which significantly reduces the breakdown of sugars (polysaccharides) to glucose, and thereby slows the entry of sugar into the blood. Several clinical studies have shown that Mulberry extracts effectively stabilizes blood sugar levels.”
- DNJ is indeed found in Mulberry leaves, and is a known inhibitor of glycoprotein processing (spiking blood sugar). The extent to which this specific mulberry extract stabilizes blood sugar is not fully known however. Though several clinical tests have been completed, not all have indicated a strong causation between supplementation and subsequent blood sugar stabilization. Other factors such as diet play a vital role in influencing blood sugar and insulin levels. I believe modifying diet to be the best solution for most problems.
- Keep in mind that many people have experienced success using this supplement, and it’s implications for diabetic patients are being explored further.
Why Should We Care About Blood Sugar, and Insulin Secretion? Look at the graph below.
Our body is primed to burn fat when insulin levels are low (morning, after sleep). Exercising in a fasted state enables us to use this fat burning advantage. Intermittent fasting is a great way to access our fat deposits, or getting a workout in before breakfast.
I am admittedly a disciple of Barry Sears and his ”Zone” methodology and still believe like many others in the health community that stabilizing blood sugar and controlling insulin secretion is extremely effective for fat loss. To keep insulin at bay, we must be able to control blood sugar levels. The higher our blood sugar level the greater the secretion of insulin.
Why is insulin secretion bad?
When insulin is secreted it sends a signal to our body to stop burning fat, and store excess calories as fat.
In theory the best way to keep our fat burning furnace in order is to maintain a narrow range of blood sugar levels and avoid insulin spikes.
It is important to note that we can simultaneously consume meals with high caloric value and still maintain low blood sugar levels. We can’t lose site of the fact that overall calories consumed also play a role in weight gain or weight loss, but if we have the opportunity to influence how our calories get stored (fat or muscle), or when fat is more accessible to burn (long after food consumption), then I think we should use that to our advantage!
Confining our insulin levels withing a narrow range is a great way to insure we are burning fat, and not storing excess calories as fat.
3 Ways to Keep Insulin in Check
1. Eat slow carbohydrates (low on the glycemic index)
Carbohydrates – vegetables (spinach is my favourite!) is a great way to regulate blood sugar levels. The rate at which carbohydrates makes their way into the blood stream is not equal for all carbs. The longer a food takes to process the slower the release of glucose into the blood stream, which has implications for insulin secretion. Most green veggies are a safe bet when it comes to carbs.
I like to add spinach to my omelets to get the day started off right, and incorporate vegetables into my day nice and early!
2. Avoid simple sugars and wheat
Ditch candies, white bread (I would ditch all bread), and pasta
I consider myself a bit of a sweet tooth, so keeping sour keys out of reach is my best solution. As for the bread and pasta, I wrote a post about how I was able to transition to life without the “big 3″
3. Take supplements to regulate sensitivity to insulin
- Some people would include low sugar, low carb protein powder in this group because of its negative effect on blood sugar
- Mulberry Zucarrin and other supposed carbohydrate blockers
Other supplements or foods speculated to regulate blood sugar levels and therefore moderate insulin spikes
Green Tea- I drink green tea daily, but not intentionally with my meals. I am going to start to include green tea as insulin insurance and monitor further fat loss attempts.
Lemon Juice- I have heard many great things about lemon juice, and Tim Ferris included a few pages about it in his book the 4 hour body.
Almond Butter or plain old nuts! – When I began my body transformation almond butter was my crutch. If I was hunger I would inhale a table spoon of the stuff. It is high calorie, but it is incredibly satiating, and has marginal impact on blood sugar levels.
Avocados – Loaded with good fats (high calorie), consuming avocados will keep you satiated, regulate blood sugar and stifle cravings
Should we try Mulberry Zuccarin?
I firmly believe that people need to find out what works for them. While I wouldn’t try this I believe many people have benefited from taking it. My real belief is that Mulberry Zuccarin and other so called “carb blockers” can be used mostly a psychological tool that forces people to stick to their diet. If taking a supplement, saying a prayer, or repeating superstitious behaviour makes you feel more confident about stifling your sugar cravings and you believe that, then it will probably work.
I would take it for the same reason that Sidney Crosby still wears the same jock strap that he did when he was 14 years old. For a psychological advantage, not physiological. So try out a few of the suggestions and see how they work for you.
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