Natural foods in our daily diet exhibiting amylase inhibitory activity

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The degradation of complex carbohydrates (i.e., starches, etc.) inside the human gut occurs in two stages, firstly into oligosaccharides or disaccharides (via the action of amylase enzyme) and secondly into monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose and galactose. (via the action of glucosidase enzymes). Glucose is called ‘blood sugar’ after having been absorbed into the circulation.

It is important to note that several plant-derived food materials that we consume regularly actually contain amylase inhibitory activity. One of these is cinnamon which has been shown to reduce carbohydrate breakdown in vitro (1, 2), in animal models (3,), and in human clinical trials (4,5,6,). Because cinnamon in raw form is an unproven treatment and with no established or preferred dose (7), the high degree of heterogeneity in clinical outcome may limit its application to patient care. Moreover, cinnamon particularly the cassia variety contains coumarin which may be toxic to the liver when taken in very high quantities which detracts from its potential clinical value. Another downside of cinnamon is its potential to interact with antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, and heart medicines (7).

In the same way, the polyphenols in tea extracts are inhibitors of amylase and glucosidases (8, 9), The green and black teas (10, 11), exhibit anti-glucosidase activity (both contain caffeine or caffeine-like activities) and are very common daily drinks across Asian countries from Sri Lanka to Japan in unsweetened form. Green tea extract has roughly 5-fold lower level of activity than Acarbose on a weight per weight basis (12). However, some tea drinkers traditionally add sugar (which is glucose + fructose) to green or black tea (in either home-made or commercial forms) which defeats the purpose of reducing blood sugar level. While the polyphenols in green tea are credited with some health benefits, they can cause liver and kidney damage if consumed in very large quantities (13). Green tea extract (now found in some health supplements) and, more rarely, ingestion of large amounts of green tea have been implicated in cases of clinically apparent acute liver injury, including instances of acute liver failure and death (14).

Another natural product with amylase and glucosidase inhibitory activities is banaba leaf extract commonly prepared as tea and as such is believed to have anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects (15, 16). It is now a common health supplement with no reports of adverse effects per reports on human clinical studies (15). Momordica charantia or bitter gourd (locally called ‘ampalaya’) is a vegetable that inhibits amylase with an inhibitory activity roughly equivalent to that of Acarbose on a weight-per-weight basis based on in vitro percentage of amylase inhibition (66% vs 69% respectively) (17). Regular consumption of bitter gourd as part of the regular diet has never been associated with adverse events in humans. As a matter of fact, bitter gourd (locally called ampalaya) is now a registered food supplement and is being sold commercially in the form of tablet, capsule or tea in the Philippines with no report whatsoever of any adverse effect with regular use.

Given that banaba tea, green tea, black tea and bitter gourd or ampalaya (all are known to exert anti-diabetes/anti-obesity effects by amylase inhibition mechanism) are being consumed regularly as part of the daily diet or as a matter of tradition among many Asians, foodstuffs with similar amylase inhibitory activity can, for that matter, be safely included as part and parcel of our regular diet for purposes of prevention of obesity or control of body weight, or for prevention of high blood sugar level which if left uncontrolled may predispose to type 2 diabetes.

Essentially, CarbX egg mimics the actions of these natural food materials in terms of activity against the amylase enzyme. Compared to common herbal supplements, CarbX Egg has several advantages: 1) free from potentially toxic polyphenols, 2) free from caffeine, 3) free from table sugar or sugar substitutes, 4) does not induce liver damage, 5) provides certain essential nutrients at the same time – vitamins, amino acids, anti-oxidants, minerals, choline, lutein, zeaxanthine, etc., and, 6) palatability being universally acceptable.

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(1) Beejmohun, V., Peytavy-Izard, M., Mignon, C., Muscente-Paque, D., Deplanque, X., Ripoll, C., Chapal. N. 2014. Acute effect of Ceylon cinnamon extract on postprandial glycemia: amylase inhibition, starch tolerance test in rats, and randomized crossover clinical trial in healthy volunteers. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 14:351;

(2) Adisakwattana, S., Lerdsuwankij, O., Poputtachai, U., Minipun, A., Suparpprom. C. 2011. Inhibitory Activity of Cinnamon Bark Species and their Combination Effect with Acarbose against Intestinal α-glucosidase and Pancreatic α-amylase. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 66( 2):143–148.

(3) Mohamed, S.S.H., Hansi, P.D., Thirumurugan, K. 2011. Cinnamon extract inhibits α-glucosidase activity and dampens postprandial glucose excursion in diabetic rats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011; 8: 46; doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-46.

(4) Medagama, A.B., 2015 . The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials. 16;14:108. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0098-9.
Hasanzade, F., Toliat, M., Emami, S.A., Emamimoghaadam, Z. 2013. The Effect of Cinnamon on Glucose of Type II Diabetes Patients. J Tradit Complement Med. 3(3): 171–174.

(5) Hasanzade, F., Toliat, M., Emami, S.A., Emamimoghaadam, Z. 2013. The Effect of Cinnamon on Glucose of Type II Diabetes Patients. J Tradit Complement Med. 3(3): 171–174.

(6) Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D and Robinson, N. 2010. Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Diabet. Med. 27, 1159–1167.

(7) Kiefer, D. (Ed.- Reviewer) 2017. Diet Supplement Guide – Cinnamon. In WebMD. Retrieved: September 10, 2017; URL:

(8) Yilmazer-Musa, M., Griffith, A.M., Michels, A.J., Schneider, E., Frei, B. Grape Seed and Tea Extracts and Catechin 3-Gallates are Potent Inhibitors of α-Amylase and α-Glucosidase Activity. J. Agric. Food Chem. 60 (36), pp 8924–8929.

(9) Yilmazer-Musa,M., Griffith, A.M., Michels, A.J., Schneider, E., Frei, B. 2012. Inhibition of α-Amylase and α-Glucosidase Activity by Tea and Grape Seed Extracts and their Constituent Catechins. J Agric Food Chem. 60(36): 8924–8929.

(10) Lochocka,K., Bajerska, J., Glapa, A., Fidler-Witon, E., Nowak, J.K., Szczapa, T., Grebowiec, P., Lisowska, A., Walkowiaka, J. 2015. Green tea extract decreases starch digestion and absorption from a test meal in humans: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study. Scientific Reports. 2015; 5: 12015. doi: 10.1038/srep12015.

(11) Striegel, L., Kang, B., Pilkenton, S.J., Rychlik, M., Apostolidis, E. 2015. Effect of Black Tea and Black Tea Pomace Polyphenols on α-Glucosidase and α-Amylase Inhibition, Relevant to Type 2 Diabetes Prevention. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2(3):1-3. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2015.00003.

(12) Yilmazer-Musa, M., Griffith, A. M., Michels, A. J., Schneider, E., & Frei, B. 2012. Grape seed and tea extracts and catechin 3-gallates are potent inhibitors of α-amylase and α-glucosidase activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food chemistry, 60(36), 8924-9.

(13) Lambert, J.D., Sang, S., and Yang, C.S. 2007. Possible Controversy over Dietary Polyphenols: Benefits vs Risks. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 20: 583-585.

(14) National Institute of Health. 2018. Drug Record. Green Tea (Camellia Sinesis) In Livertox (Clinical and Research Information of Drug-induced Liver Injury). Retrieved: January 5, 2019. URL:

(15) Miura T, Takagi S, Ishida T. Management of Diabetes and Its Complications with Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and Corosolic Acid. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:871495. doi:10.1155/2012/871495

(16) Hosoyama H, Sugimoto A, Suzuki Y, Sakane I, Kakuda T. 2003. [Isolation and quantitative analysis of the alpha-amylase inhibitor in Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. (Banaba)]. [Article in Japanese]. Yakugaku Zasshi. 23(7): 599-605.

(17) Poovitha, S., & Parani, M. 2016. In vitro and in vivo α-amylase and α-glucosidase inhibiting activities of the protein extracts from two varieties of bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.). BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 16 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 185. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1085-1

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