Frustrated that you can’t shift excess weight?
Do you feel no matter what you do, the excess weight remains or even increases? You’ve tried all the diets under the sun, but still not satisfied? After a while, it can get you down, leaving you despondent and resigned to fate. A lot of it has to do with learning about our bodies and what is happening inside them, what is working, or not working and what we can do about it. At Enzymedica UK, our resident Naturopath Leyla El Moudden has worked with many clients with the exact same problems. Over the years she has built up her knowledge on this topic and here are some of her findings and observations.
Needing a sugar fix – the spike and crash
We’ve all experienced the mid-afternoon slump - we crave another cup of coffee and it just has to be accompanied by something sweet like a doughnut, or biscuits. We need this boost to get us to the end of the day. But what is happening in our bodies here? The snack causes our blood sugar to spike but then crash an hour later. If snacking like this becomes a habit, we may think that this rollercoaster is a normal part of life. What we may not realise, is these peaks and troughs of blood sugar levels may be inhibiting our ability to lose weight.
Do not starve yourself
It’s important not to starve yourself since starvation lowers blood sugar levels, causing your body to burn muscle instead of fat. Less muscle mass leads to a lowered metabolism. Conversely, we can speed up our metabolism by building muscle mass with weightlifting or other weight-bearing exercises. Starvation also produces our stress hormone, cortisol which further inhibits weight loss.
Over time, if our bodies are repeatedly responding to high-and-low cycles of blood sugar levels, our tissues can become less sensitive to the effects of insulin and the transportation of glucose into our cells becomes less efficient. Our metabolism slows down naturally as we age and can also lead to weight gain.
Insulin is an important regulator
To keep our blood sugar levels within normal range, insulin is released by our pancreas to regulate the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. Insulin works like a ferryboat picking up glucose from our digestive system and transporting it via our bloodstream to fuel cells throughout our body.
When our blood sugar levels go above 140 mg/dl, such as after eating that afternoon doughnut, we produce more insulin to bring our blood sugar level back to normal. This influx of insulin sends a message to our body, telling it that there is plenty of energy available and for it to stop burning fat and start storing it. It is this that can lead to weight gain.
We can naturally balance our blood sugar by reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates that we eat. These are things like sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (dairy sugar) and glucose (blood sugar). Eating fewer of these simple carbohydrates will cause less sugar to circulate in our blood. To stabilise our blood sugar levels, we can lower our intake of simple carbohydrates and increase the amount of protein, fat, fibre and greens in our diet. Sometimes it is difficult to make all these dietary and lifestyle changes all at once and many people use supplements as part of their weight loss regime.
Berberine has long been used in Chinese medicine to support overall health. Current research backs up this ancient wisdom, showing that Berberine supports healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss, as well as improving our gut microbiome and immune and cardiovascular systems
Berberine is found in many plants, such as goldenseal, barberry and Oregon grape.
In clinical trials, Berberine has been shown to reduce blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol and activates the AMPK pathway which converts glucose to energy.
So, how exactly does Berberine support weight control?
Berberine supports healthy blood sugar
Berberine supports healthy blood sugar levels, making it easier to kick the sugar habit. In several clinical trials with Type 2 Diabetes patients, it was found that Berberine improved the lowering of blood glucose when compared to people who only modified their lifestyle or who took a placebo.
Berberine activates AMPK – the metabolic ‘master switch’ enzyme
The speed of our metabolism is determined by how efficiently our body converts glucose to energy in our cells – this chemical reaction is driven by enzymes.
One of these enzymes is activated protein kinase (AMPK), known as the “metabolic master switch”. After insulin delivers glucose to a cell, AMPK activation converts it into energy. Working like a carburettor in a car, AMPK knows how much glucose the cell needs and converts it accordingly. AMPK balances the supply of glucose with the energy demands of the cell, which brings stability to this energy pathway and speeds up the metabolism.
The problem with enzymes is that they are not always active. Enzymes are like light switches, constantly flipping on and off. If insulin delivers glucose but AMPK is inactive, the conversion of glucose to energy will be less efficient, leading to fatigue and a slower metabolism.
It’s a two-step process. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose in our blood, while AMPK converts glucose into energy in our cells. If we are able to streamline these two processes, we have a better chance of maintaining consistent energy and a healthy weight.
Through our food choices, we can support healthy insulin and blood sugar levels and could activate AMPK with Berberine.
AMPK is found in the cells of various organs throughout our body, including in the brain, kidney, heart and liver, as well as in muscle tissue. By supplying these cells with glucose at a consistent and rapid rate, these organs perform at their best, which makes us feel healthier and more energised.
Extensive research shows that Berberine increases AMPK activation, which in turn speeds up our metabolism.
Our body needs carbohydrates to provide the energy to metabolise what we eat. However, if our AMPK pathway does not activate, the energy is not utilised but stored as extra fat. Dieting often fails because our body does not switch to fat burning once the glucose runs out. This failure results in hunger pangs, jitters and even anxiety, only relieved by eating carbohydrates.
When AMPK is activated, the body converts glucose to energy, then moves to burning fat. This means we need less food to feel energised, as the body naturally moves towards burning excess fat once the glucose is used. Fat is our body’s energy reserve fuel.
Berberine enhances weight friendly gut bacteria
Berberine enhances the gut bacteria Akkermansia which is known to support glucose metabolism and healthy levels of body fat.
Gut bacteria play a tremendous role in how healthy we are – influencing hunger and other hormonal signals. Berberine has been shown to specifically increase and feed the bacteria that dictates how well we process glucose, making our bodies more energy efficient and therefore less likely to over-eat and enter into fat storing mode.
Blood sugar, aka glucose, is our main source of energy. It is produced when we break down any carbohydrate—from doughnuts to broccoli. Our energy fluctuates throughout the day depending on our blood sugar levels. We go between hyperactivity, sluggishness and hunger depending on the concentration of sugar in our blood.
The key is to keep blood sugar balanced—not too high, not too low. When our blood sugar is balanced, we feel our best and we burn more fat, our energy levels are consistent throughout the day – that is, we are being fuelled efficiently. Keeping our blood sugar balanced is a great way to facilitate long-term healthy weight loss.
Berberine kills Archaea (a major cause of belly bloat and constipation)
A healthy gut is like a rainforest; home to many species of bacteria, viruses, worms, fungi and archaea, all living in harmony, causing no problems and delivering multiple health benefits.
Let’s say, if in a rainforest, one type of living creature begins to reproduce at a very high rate. That creature will begin to affect the health and wellbeing of the others – throwing everything out of equilibrium.
Archaea is one such organism in the human gut. Once they have multiplied and moved up your digestive tract, they begin to generate lots of methane and hydrogen gases. Those gases then swell your stomach and generate constipation. Getting rid of archaea is tremendously difficult and excessive numbers can lead to a condition of semi-permanent constipation called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (or SIBO for short).
Whilst many natural substances can reduce archaea in the gut – they also kill the good bacteria too. Not Berberine – it can reduce the population of archaea in the gut, relieving the gas, bloating and constipation associated with SIBO, but not affect the good bacteria.
Why Enzymedica brand?
Enzymedica’s Berberine product is comprised of 95% of the active ingredient, whereas many other products that are available contain as little as 50%.
Secondly, Enzymedica’s Berberine is sustainably made from barberry seeds rather than goldenseal, which is an endangered species. Sourcing Berberine from barberry seeds does not damage any plants in the extraction process.
Lastly, Enzymedica’s Berberine is offered in targeted-release capsules to ensure that it is absorbed properly throughout the GI tract. This special capsule is resistant to stomach acid that would otherwise break down the capsule and cause the Berberine to bond with itself, forming complexes that cannot be absorbed.
Other Enzymedica products that promote healthy weight are Apple Cider Vinegar and ProBio. Apple Cider Vinegar also activates AMPK and keeps us feeling fuller for longer; while ProBio supports the gut bacteria that are linked to weight loss.
A combination of a healthy diet, lifestyle and supplements can create a healthy system for weight management.