GLP-1: A Way to Improve Blood Sugar and Weight Loss
What is GLP-1 and how does it impact weight loss and blood sugar?
Chances are you have heard about something called GLP-1 and how it can help you control blood sugar and possibly lose weight. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone that the body makes that is secreted in the intestines when you eat to stimulate insulin release from the pancreas. It ultimately has the ability to decrease your blood sugar by enhancing the secretion of insulin. In addition, GLP-1 will slow how quickly food moves from your stomach into your intestines, thus making you feel full for a longer period of time. GLP-1 will also act in the brainstem and hypothalamus, promoting the feeling of satiety (fullness), which also reduces the amount of food being consumed.1 A reduction of the effects of GLP-1 is seen in conditions with impaired glucose tolerance and chronic inflammation like type 2 diabetes.2
If GLP-1 can help with controlling blood sugar and promoting weight loss, then what can you do to optimize GLP-1 levels?
How can I increase GLP-1 naturally?
There are multiple ways that are shown to increase GLP-1 naturally. These methods include probiotics, prebiotics, supplements, and diet.
Probiotics & Prebiotics
There is evidence to show that probiotics, particularly Bifidobacteria, may increase GLP-1 levels and help regulate insulin sensitivity. This is through the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), from the Bifidobacteria which allows the cells in your colon to function optimally. The production of these short-chain fatty acids leads to downstream effects that include secretion of GLP-1.3,4 There are other types and strains of probiotics that have been studied, but a considerable amount of the current evidence lies with the Bifidobacteria species.
In a variety of studies with probiotics, the subjects receive around 10-20 billion CFUs a day. A lot of the commercially available probiotics contain approximately 50-100 billion CFUs, which will most definitely cover the amount that has been seen to be beneficial. The labeled recommendation on many of these available products is to take 1 to 2 capsules per day; however, it is important to discuss these decisions with your provider.
In order to help the Bifidobacteria and other probiotics do their job in the gut, it is important to feed them with prebiotics. Prebiotics, which you can get through diet or supplementation, are the food for the probiotics. Prebiotics are fibers that are able to get to your gut because they are not digestible. In response to prebiotics, probiotics do what they are intended to do and can proliferate. These fiber sources include flax, whole grains, soy, cabbage, raw garlic, onion, peas, asparagus, beans, and more. There are prebiotics that are believed to specifically promote Bifidobacteria, especially strains including B. adolescentis, B. angulatum, and B. longum.5 These include indigestible carbohydrates like inulin-like fructans (ITF) that are known to occur in plants like wheat, onion, banana, leek, and garlic.6,7
The Mediterranean diet is known to be a heart-healthy diet that can improve health outcomes. This diet consists of vegetables (raw and cooked), fresh fruits, legumes, fish, nuts or seeds, certain white meats, and healthy fats including olive oil. A study demonstrated that this diet can counteract the effects of hyperglycemia and improve the actions of GLP-1 in the gut. The Mediterranean diet will help reduce inflammation of the gut, which ultimately improves the action of GLP-1.8 If GLP-1 is able to act, it can adequately stimulate insulin secretion, delay gastric emptying, and promote satiety.
Additionally, there are other natural products that have evidence of increasing GLP-1 secretion or function. Products including berberine, resveratrol, cinnamon, and green tea have been studied and shown to stimulate GLP-1 secretion.9,10 There are products that are currently available that include other ingredients such as hibiscus, lemon verbena extract, and green coffee bean extract that have been shown to aid in glycemic control, insulin resistance, increase GLP-1, aid in weight loss, or promote heart health. For example, two studies demonstrated a clear increase in GLP-1 levels and a normalization in hormones associated with increased hunger. These findings correlated with the subjective participant reports of satiety; thus, consuming these ingredients can help restore a balance between hunger and energy expenditure.11,12 Studies evaluating green coffee bean extract have shown weight loss, improvements in blood sugar and blood pressure control, and increases in GLP-1.13,14 One study demonstrated reductions in other metrics including fasting blood sugars, blood pressure, and patient-reported appetite scores.15 Supplementing dietary changes or probiotic intake with hibiscus, lemon verbena extract, and green coffee extract could make a sizeable difference in GLP-1, blood sugar, weight loss, and heart health.
GLP-1 is a hormone naturally produced in the human body to help regulate metabolic processes like insulin secretion. It has an important role in glycemic control and weight loss, which is why optimizing GLP-1 levels is something worth considering. GLP-1 is primarily secreted from cells found in the lining of the small intestine. Regulating gut inflammation through diet, probiotic, and prebiotic intake can help promote the proper processes of the gut and allow for increased GLP-1 secretion from the gut. In addition to these interventions, natural supplements like hibiscus, lemon verbena extract, and green coffee bean extract have been shown to improve glycemic control and GLP-1 secretion. Looking at the overall picture of holistic health, working on implementing these methods can help you take control of your gut and metabolic health.
As always if you want to take the next step towards thriving, book a 15 min call to learn more about creating an individualized plan for you!
Written By: Katelynn Webster, PharmD candidate
Edited by Lindsey Dalton, PharmD
- Müller TD, Finan B, Bloom SR, et al. Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Mol Metab. 2019;30:72-130. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2019.09.010
- Li Y, Wu Y, Wu L, Qin L, Liu T. The effects of probiotic administration on patients with prediabetes: a meta-analysis and systematic review. J Transl Med. 2022;20(1):498. Published 2022 Nov 2. doi:10.1186/s12967-022-03695-y
- He M, Shi B. Gut microbiota as a potential target of metabolic syndrome: the role of probiotics and prebiotics. Cell Biosci. 2017;7:54. Published 2017 Oct 25. doi:10.1186/s13578-017-0183-1
- Yadav H, Lee JH, Lloyd J, Walter P, Rane SG. Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate-induced GLP-1 hormone secretion. J Biol Chem. 2013;288(35):25088-25097. doi:10.1074/jbc.M113.452516
- Falony G, Lazidou K, Verschaeren A, Weckx S, Maes D, De Vuyst L. In vitro kinetic analysis of fermentation of prebiotic inulin-type fructans by Bifidobacterium species reveals four different phenotypes. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009;75(2):454-461. doi:10.1128/AEM.01488-08
- De Vuyst L, Leroy F. Cross-feeding between bifidobacteria and butyrate-producing colon bacteria explains bifdobacterial competitiveness, butyrate production, and gas production. Int J Food Microbiol. 2011;149(1):73-80. doi:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.03.003
- Roberfroid MB. Inulin-type fructans: functional food ingredients. J Nutr. 2007;137(11 Suppl):2493S-2502S. doi:10.1093/jn/137.11.2493S
- Di Mauro A, Tuccinardi D, Watanabe M, et al. The Mediterranean diet increases glucagon-like peptide 1 and oxyntomodulin compared with a vegetarian diet in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled cross-over trial. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2021;37(6):e3406. doi:10.1002/dmrr.3406
- Yaribeygi H, Jamialahmadi T, Moallem SA, Sahebkar A. Boosting GLP-1 by Natural Products. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1328:513-522. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-73234-9_36
- Zhang Q, Xiao X, Li M, et al. Berberine moderates glucose metabolism through the GnRH-GLP-1 and MAPK pathways in the intestine. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:188. Published 2014 Jun 9. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-188
- Boix-Castejón M , Herranz-López M , Pérez Gago A , et al. Hibiscus and lemon verbena polyphenols modulate appetite-related biomarkers in overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial [published correction appears in Food Funct. 2018 Jul 17;9(7):4037]. Food Funct. 2018;9(6):3173-3184. doi:10.1039/c8fo00367j
- Herranz-López M, Olivares-Vicente M, Boix-Castejón M, Caturla N, Roche E, Micol V. Differential effects of a combination of Hibiscus sabdariffa and Lippia citriodora polyphenols in overweight/obese subjects: A randomized controlled trial. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):2999. Published 2019 Feb 28. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-39159-5
- Pourmasoumi M, Hadi A, Marx W, Najafgholizadeh A, Kaur S, Sahebkar A. The Effect of Green Coffee Bean Extract on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1328:323-345. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-73234-9_21
- Sarriá B, Martínez-López S, Mateos R, Bravo-Clemente L. Long-term consumption of a green/roasted coffee blend positively affects glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in humans. Food Research International. 2016;89:1023-1028. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2015.12.032
- Roshan H, Nikpayam O, Sedaghat M, Sohrab G. Effects of green coffee extract supplementation on anthropometric indices, glycaemic control, blood pressure, lipid profile, insulin resistance and appetite in patients with the metabolic syndrome: a randomised clinical trial. Br J Nutr. 2018;119(3):250-258. doi:10.1017/S0007114517003439