Sports supplement findings positive news for diabetics

NEW RESEARCH: Rhenan Nealon, from Southern Cross University’s School of Health and Sciences, is excited by his test results.
NEW RESEARCH: Rhenan Nealon, from Southern Cross University’s School of Health and Sciences, is excited by his test results. Hamish Broome

DIABETES sufferers could help their condition by taking a commonly available sports supplement, a Southern Cross University pilot study has found.

Honours student Rhenan Nealon tested the supplement, Beta-Alanine, on 12 people with type 2 diabetes.

Beta-Alanine is traditionally used by athletes, who take it in training as an endurance-booster.

The month-long study showed the participants taking Beta-Alanine could exercise for 20% longer before feeling tired.

"Almost all the people taking Beta-Alanine in the trial felt it was easier to do their daily chores. I had one lady who was saying just hanging out the washing was easier," Mr Nealon said.

"It shouldn't replace exercise; just make it easier to get out of your chair."

Most sports-supplement stores sell Beta-Alanine, with a month's supply retailing for about $40.

Mr Nealon is now hoping to conduct larger trials with 100 or more participants over a longer period.

He predicted, if future trials were successful, the supplement might become as commonly used as fish oil.

But he did caution anyone with diabetes to seek proper medical advice before taking the supplement.

"There's other trials and literature that say it can lower blood pressure, and is a strong anti-oxidant, so it goes beyond just exercise capacity - it can have other health benefits as well."

"I'd like to see doctors say to people with diabetes or pre-diabetes to start exercising and try out some Beta-Alanine."

One million people in Australia and 347 million people worldwide have diabetes. A Diabetes Australia report estimated the disease cost Australia $10.3 billion in 2008, with 280 Australians developing the disease every day.

Another report has shown that in the UK, the rise of diabetes could bankrupt the country's National Health Service within a generation.


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