Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) boosts insulin and lowers blood sugar. Discover the benefits, side effects, and how to increase it naturally.

What is GLP-1?

Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) is both a neuropeptide and an incretin.

A neuropeptide is an agent that has an effect on the nervous system. An incretin is a hormone that reduces glucose levels in the blood.

Benefits of GLP-1

1) GLP-1 Benefits Type 2 Diabetic Patients and Balance Blood Glucose

GLP-1 increases insulin and decreases glucagon levels, which will result in decreased blood glucose [12].

GLP-1 is found to delay the speed of digesting food, or stomach emptying. In this way, GLP-1 reduces the speed of glucose intake, making it easy for the body to maintain blood sugar level right after a meal until the next meal [3].

GLP-1 receptor activators injected to different animals with diabetes improves the function of insulin-producing beta cells and is capable of regenerating these pancreatic cells [4, 5].

Fat muscle cells also increase glucose uptake when GLP-1 is increased [6].

Patients with type 2 diabetes produce low levels of GLP-1 and increasing GLP-1 levels can be a good way to treat type 2 diabetic patients [7].

A 6 weeks long administration of GLP-1 to type 2 diabetic patients resulted in weight loss, reduction in appetite, slowed stomach emptying, high sensitivity to insulin, and improved beta cells function with no other major side effects (8).

However, GLP-1 has a very short half-life of about 1.5 minutes and is rapidly suppressed by an enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) [9].

2) GLP-1 Decreases Appetite

GLP-1 influences nervous system to decrease the appetite.

A study on fasted rats has shown that GLP-1 produces a feeling of satiety, so GLP-1 in hypothalamus reduces the food intake [10].

In particular, a study using chocolate milk has shown that GLP-1 reduces the excitement of eating food, anticipatory food reward, which may result in a decrease in appetite and motivation toward food [11].

I’ve mentioned GLP-1 in the hormones that cause weight loss.

3) GLP-1 May Help Brain Function

A study on rats has shown that GLP-1R in hippocampus enhanced learning and memory, and also involved in protecting the brain from seizures and neuronal damage [12].

Administration of a GLP-1 activator in patients with Parkinson’s disease showed improvement compared to control patients. Side effects were weight loss and nausea [13].

It has been proposed that the protective property of GLP-1 receptor activator may be used to improve patients with brain damage such as Alzheimer disease [14].

One immediate advantage of GLP-1 is the ability to reduce glucose levels in the blood.

In animal models, GLP-1 has anti-depressant effects [15].

GLP-1 activates orexin, which increases wakefulness.

Other Effects of GLP-1

GLP-1 causes:

  • Heart protection [6]
  • Vasodilation [6]
  • Excretion of sodium [6]

Negatives of GLP-1 Activation

Side effects of GLP-1 activators are weight loss and nausea [13].

GLP-1 can increase the stress response [16].

A study has shown that GLP-1 and GLP-1R may be responsible for stress responses such as increased blood pressure and increased heart rate. This function of GLP-1 may be connected to maintaining the balance of energy usage [17].

In animal models, GLP-1 has anxiety-inducing effects [15].

How to Increase GLP-1

Sugar (both glucose and fructose) increases GLP-1 as a satiety signal.

The following are my preferred GLP-1 increasers:

I get the most benefits from the first 5 from this list.

  1. Resistant starch/prebiotics [18, 19] – Hi-maize Resistant Starch
  2. Butyrate [20]
  3. Modified Citrus Pectin
  4. Arabinogalactan
  5. Bile/TGR5 Agonists [21] – also Oleanolic acid/olive leaf, Betulinic acid/chaga.
  6. Olive oil/Oleic acid/MUFAs [22, 23]
  7. Cinnamon [24]
  8. Raw honey – Contains Fructose/Fructans [25, 26]+Glucose [27] – instead of other carbs
  9. Palatinose [28] – instead of other carbs
  10. Berry and Citrus
  11. Chlorogenic acid – very potent [29]
  12. Olive leaf extract [29]
  13. Grape Seed Extract [30]
  14. Berberine [31]
  15. Resveratrol [32]

Other natural GLP-1 increasers:

GLP-1 Activators (Drugs):

  • Exenatide (Byetta) [38]
  • Liraglutide (Victoza) [39]

DPP-4 Inhibitors (Drugs):

Another way to increase the effectiveness of GLP-1 is by reducing the function of DPP-4.

  • Sitagliptin (Januvia) [40]
  • Saxagliptin (Onglyza) [41]
  • Linagliptin (Tradjenta) [42]

Drugs may cause asymptomatic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer [43].

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