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Fluid thickener linked to lower blood sugar after eating, study says

A new study shows fluid thickeners lower blood sugar after eating, which could help patients with heart disease or Type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University. File photo by Shutterstock/UPI/Image Point Fr

Dec. 27 (UPI) — Researchers in Japan have linked xanthan gum-based fluid thickener to lower blood sugar after eating, which could help patients with heart disease or Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University, found xanthan gum — which is used in several foods including fluid thickeners to prevent choking in patients — helped to increase insulin response, improve fat metabolism and have positive effects on the gut microbiome.

While previous studies have shown that heart diseases and metabolic disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes, are associated with blood glucose levels after eating, certain foods like vinegar have been reported to help decrease glucose levels if eaten with a meal. Dietary fibers, like xanthan gum, also produce a similar effect.

“Xanthan gum is a viscous soluble fiber that forms a non-diffusible aqueous layer, which affects the rate of diffusion of nutrients into the intestinal lumen… and inhibits nutrient absorption by prolonging absorption time,” the study says.

“However, the biological effects of fluid thickener on postprandial blood glucose levels, gene expression in the gastrointestinal tract and gut microbiome have not been fully clarified,” the study added.

In the study, researchers used two groups of rats, with one group receiving xanthan gum-based fluid thickener and the other group receiving saline, for five weeks.

The results showed blood glucose levels at 60 to 90 minutes after eating were significantly lower in rats that received the thickened liquid.

“The mechanism by which this happened is very interesting. Giving thickened liquid decreased blood glucose levels associated with Glp1 and Glp1r expression in the ileum,” said senior author Haruka Tohara.

The study also found gut microbial composition was also altered after drinking thickened liquid, causing an increase in the numbers of two “good” intestinal bacteria which produce short-chain fatty acids that protect intestinal and pancreatic cell responsible for insulin secretion.

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