Are you suffering from arthritis? Worried about diabetes? In or around menopause? The June issue of Menopause had new information about glucosamine, a common over-the-counter supplement.
First of all, arthritis and arthritic pain is extremely common. It affects over 40 million people in the United States and over 350 million people worldwide. Most people over 60 have some degree of arthritis in their hands, neck, knees, back, etc.
A lot of those people use glucosamine for their arthritis. I’ll simplify the biochemistry and just say that glucosamine originates from glucose as the name implies. And there are a number of studies that show taking oral glucosamine can increase glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, ie it can make people more likely to become prediabetic. That’s particularly true for women in menopause.
Glucosamine can also make it more difficult for your muscles to scoop up insulin from the bloodstream and use it for energy. As if that weren’t enough, glucosamine metabolism in the body has a direct negative effect on the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas.
Postmenopausal women are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Some of that is due to weight gain in midlife and also the increased belly fat that so many women complain about. If you already have elevated blood glucose or an elevated blood insulin level, glucosamine can really make it worse. When the study subjects were co-treated with estradiol and glucosamine, much of the negative findings were blocked. I talk about the benefits of estrogen on risk of diabetes in my book The Estrogen Window.
The study in the June issue of Menopause is in a rat model that works very well to illustrate the effects of glucose and insulin in menopause. An 8-week exercise program decreased plasma glucose and insulin resistance. It also helped skeletal muscles better use insulin to transport glucose into the muscles to burn for fuel.
And both estrogen and exercise help to reduce insulin resistance, slow cognitive decline, and reduce both hot flashes and osteoporosis.
Why are you still sitting there after reading this article? Get up and go exercise!
To find out how much your symptoms of menopause are impacting the quality of your life, take this free 2-minute quiz at MenopauseQuiz.com and get instant feedback along with some helpful tips.