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Individuals who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes may be able to improve their HbA1c test scores and avoid the condition by adding more leucine to their diets. A new study from researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center has found that the amino acid helps control blood sugar levels in individuals with impaired metabolic function.
Leucine is found predominantly in proteins. In testing on mice fed higher than normal levels of the amino acid, the researchers showed that the compound helps improve glucose tolerance and how tissue responds to insulin, which are among the most important markers of diabetes risk.
"We found that adding just this one amino acid to the diet changed the metabolism in a lot of different pathways," said Ronald Kahn, who led the investigation. "It had effects that improved insulin sensitivity, improved their ability to metabolize sugar and fats and their overall metabolism improved."
He added that the findings could have important implications because leucine is a common building block of all proteins and is found in any food source that has protein. The amino acid could provide a simple and accessible way for individuals to control their diabetes risk.
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