Life Extension Magazine®

Wooden spoon digging through starch that may increase after-meal glucose and insulin spikes

Stop Starch-Induced Glucose Surges

All starches, even “healthy” grains, create after-meal glucose and insulin spikes. Researchers have discovered an enzyme known as transglucosidase that reduces the rapid conversion of starch to sugar—and transforms some of it into beneficial fiber—right in your digestive tract. Laboratory studies have shown that with transglucosidase, as much as 40% of the starch ingested is less likely to be rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. April Parks, MD, MS, in August 2023. Written by: Scott Rackinow.

Stop Starch-Induced Glucose Surges  

About 35 years ago, the federal government revised their dietary guidelines to advise Americans to increase the amount of carbohydrates they consume to around 60% of their daily food intake. The objective was to achieve a healthier lifestyle.1

The latest guidelines from the Institute of Medicine recommend a daily carbohydrate intake of up to 65% of daily food intake.2

The catastrophic result has been an epidemic of life-threatening obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other diseases.2

The reason is simple. Starch is one of the largest dietary sources of blood sugar and dangerous after-meal blood glucose spikes.3,4 Even if you eat so-called “healthy grains” such as whole wheat and brown rice, these all convert into sugar during digestion.5

Fortunately, researchers have uncovered a dual-action enzyme known as transglucosidase (pronounced trans-gluco-side-ace) that blocks the conversion of starch into sugar and tranforms it into beneficial fiber.6

While you can’t eliminate all starch from your diet, you can neutralize its negative impact on your body. Transglucosidase represents a novel mechanism for protecting against the harmful effects of dietary starch.

Impressive laboratory studies have shown that when transglucosidase comes in contact with starchy foods and natural enzymes in the digestive tract, there’s a 31% reduction in rapidly digested starch (the kind that causes blood sugar to spike right after a meal) and an 11% increase in slowly digested starch (which gets converted to sugar more slowly, if at all).7

Together, that means approximately 40% of the starch you ingest is less likely to be rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream.

Human clinical studies have confirmed the ability of transglucosidase to reduce blood glucose and insulin levels.

For the typical aging adult, this offers a powerful way to help prevent crossing the line into prediabetes or overt diabetes, preserving pancreatic function, protecting against deadly glucose/insulin surges—and ultimately leading to a longer, healthier life.

Hidden Dangers of a High-Starch Diet

If you’re a diabetic—or experiencing even slightly elevated blood sugar—you probably know that sugar is one of the worst things you can put into your body. What you might not know is that one of the biggest sources of sugar in your diet is starch.7 Because even whole grains are converted to sugar during digestion, every gram of starch you eat could represent one gram of free glucose in your blood.5,8

That means that even seemingly healthy food choices (whole grain bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta, for example) can lead to increases in blood sugar and insulin—and ultimately an increased threat to your health—especially if you already suffer from insulin resistance (prediabetes) or diabetes.

Starchy foods are rich in glucose precursors such as amylopectin, which is the main form of rapidly digestible starch in the human body.9 Because the starch in various foods is converted into sugar at different rates, it results in variable rates of blood sugar elevation, insulin response, and satiety (the sense of fullness you get after eating a portion of each food).5,10

Regardless of the form of starch you eat however, be it whole grain bread and brown rice or cookies and cake, the fact remains that all digestible starch gets turned into sugar as it passes through the digestive tract.5,7,8 And that results in elevations in blood sugar and dangerously higher insulin levels—whether you suffer from diabetes or not.

When sugar (glucose) binds to your body’s proteins, it produces advanced glycation end products, which are “sugar-coated” proteins that have become stiff, inflexible, and dysfunctional.11-13 Advanced glycation end products trigger inflammation and oxidization, leading to massive amounts of the tissue damage that underlies chronic disease—and aging itself.12,13

Impact of Insulin Excess

In response to surplus blood sugar, your body has to pump out far too much insulin.6,14,15 Insulin is a hormone that’s essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism. But when it’s secreted in excess, insulin becomes a “death hormone.” Chronically elevated insulin levels put you at increased risk of dying from diseases as diverse as cancer, obesity, heart attacks, and strokes, and can ultimately lead to a “burnt-out” pancreas incapable of any glucose control at all.14,16-18

Even people with “normal” fasting blood sugar levels are at an increased risk if their after-meal glucose levels rise too high, too fast.19,20 That’s why, even if you’re not diabetic, you need to be doing all you can to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels under control.

Too many Americans are living in a dangerous “gray zone” with their health. Even though they think they’re safe from harm, their glucose and insulin levels are precariously approaching abnormal. You could be living on the brink of a major health disaster—and not even know it.20

Conventional Doctors Missed the Boat

Modern-day physicians aren’t helping the situation because they typically wait far too long before they respond to a patient’s “pre-diabetic” state (technically called impaired glucose tolerance, or insulin resistance). And when they do respond, it’s often with costly prescription drugs that don’t fully address the underlying problems. In the end, prevention makes the most sense.

Fortunately, researchers have discovered a unique enzyme that can help prevent you from crossing the line into prediabetes or overt diabetes by mitigating the harmful effects of dietary starch.6 This transformative enzyme is called transglucosidase.

Aided by your body’s own starch-digesting enzymes, transglucosidase literally rearranges the molecular structure of starch. Instead of allowing starch to be converted into free sugars that spike your blood glucose and trigger deadly insulin release, transglucosidase converts starch into beneficial, indigestible, prebiotic fiber—right in your own digestive tract.6,7,21-23

With the help of transglucosidase, you can achieve multiple life-saving goals with a single supplement:

  1. You’ll convert less starch to sugar, ensuring a smaller glucose load, especially in the critical after-meal period.6,21,22
  2. You’ll release less insulin, thus reducing your risk of excess insulin’s deadly health effects.6,21,22
  3. You’ll be providing yourself with additional prebiotic fiber, further reducing your risk of diabetes and enhancing intestinal health.7,23-29
What You Need to Know
Transglucosidase: Reducing Sugar Surges

Transglucosidase: Reducing Sugar Surges

  • High blood sugar and the resulting high insulin levels pose a grave threat to Americans’ health, even for non-diabetic people.
  • The biggest source of glucose in the diet is not sugar or sweeteners, but rather starch, which is made up of hundreds of individual glucose molecules that break off and are absorbed during digestion.
  • Slowing starch digestion is one important way of reducing dangerous spikes in blood sugar following a meal, as is increasing one’s intake of prebiotic dietary fiber.
  • Transglucosidase offers a revolutionary approach to managing high blood sugar and insulin surges by converting starch into prebiotic fiber directly in the intestinal tract.
  • Studies show that transglucosidase can stop the progression of prediabetes to diabetes, while limiting tissue damage and lowering cardiovascular and cancer risk factors among diabetics.
  • If you are concerned about the risks of high blood sugar, you should take a transglucosidase supplement before every starch-containing meal.

Neutralize Dietary Starch

As stated earlier, regardless of the form of starch you eat, all digestible starch gets turned into sugar as it passes through the digestive tract.7,8 And that results in elevations in blood sugar and a rise in insulin levels into the danger zone. The riskiest period is the two hours immediately following a meal; studies show that this after-meal blood glucose and insulin surge is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.12 Fortunately, transglucosidase can help eliminate the dangers of this after-meal period.

So what does happen to the starch you just ate? That’s the second part of the transglucosidase story.

In addition to blocking the conversion of starch into sugar, transglucosidase converts that harmful sugar into beneficial prebiotic dietary fiber.6,23,30

We know that the more fiber you consume, the better your health. High-fiber diets may help you live longer for several reasons.31 Prebiotic fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria living in your colon; those bacteria in turn convert other types of fiber into healthy molecules that lower levels of inflammation in your body, slow excessive weight gain, reduce your blood cholesterol, shrink your risk of cancer, and—importantly—help normalize blood glucose and insulin levels.32-36

But despite the American Dietetic Association’s recommendation that healthy adults should consume 20 to 35 grams/day of dietary fiber, most people don’t come anywhere close to this level of intake, partly because it’s hard to find good, palatable sources of fiber.32

When you supplement with transglucosidase, however, you are capable of converting unhealthy starches with high sugar release and low fiber content into healthy prebiotic fiber—directly in your own digestive tract.6,21,22

Human data confirms the benefit of transglucosidase for improving the health of the beneficial bacteria that reside in the digestive tract. In a group of forty type II diabetics receiving transglucosidase for 12 weeks, 67% had considerable improvement in the health and balance of bacterial colonies in their digestive tract.37 Researchers believe that the modulation of gut bacteria by transglucosidase may be one of the main mechanisms by which transglucosidase supports control of glucose levels and promotes weight loss in type II diabetics.

That means transglucosidase has the potential to radically change the equation when it comes to the dangers of starch in your diet. Given its dual mechanism of action—blocking the release of harmful sugar from starch and converting it instead into beneficial fiber—transglucosidase has the power to help prevent you from crossing the line into prediabetes (insulin resistance) or overt diabetes, preserving your pancreatic function and protecting you from dangerous insulin surges—and ultimately prolonging your life.

Table 1: The Impact of Common Starchy Foods on Glucose, Insulin, and Satiety Scores 45,46
Table 1: The Impact of Common Starchy Foods on Glucose, Insulin, and Satiety Scores

Because one gram of starch could be converted by digestive enzymes into one gram of sugar, foods that are high in starch are also high in sugar.5,8 Sugar is released more easily from some foods than from others, resulting in very different blood sugar and insulin profiles. In this table, various foods are compared with white bread, a starchy food that is rapidly converted to sugar. The “glucose score” indicates how much glucose a food contains compared to white bread; the “insulin score” indicates how much a given food raises blood insulin compared to white bread; and the “satiety score” indicates how full you feel after eating identical portions of each food, compared to white bread.45,46


Glucose score

Insulin score

Satiety score

White bread (baseline)




Whole-grain bread




White rice




Brown rice




White pasta




Brown pasta








Baked beans








Mars bars




















Reduce Your Risk of Developing Diabetes

Transglucosidase has been studied around the world, and it’s one of the only known natural enzymes that can prevent the progression of prediabetes to full-blown diabetes.6

People with prediabetes often have fasting glucose levels near the upper limits of “normal” (near or above 100 mg/dL) and have already lost the ability to control after-meal glucose and insulin surges. Prediabetics have a high risk of progressing to full-blown diabetes—but even if they don’t, these “mild” elevations in blood sugar still correlate strongly with diseases such as heart attack, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer.6,38

In a study including prediabetics, one group received a “low dose” of 450,000* units of transglucosidase, one group received a “high dose” of 900,000 units of transglucosidase, and a third group received a placebo.6 The subjects took the supplements along with a test meal of white rice (high in starch) that is readily converted to glucose.

Over the course of three hours following the control meal, the subjects’ total blood sugar rose into dangerous territory, as would be expected for people with prediabetes.6 But the people who supplemented with transglucosidase at either dose had significantly lower total blood sugar concentrations over the three-hour period, along with a trend towards lower insulin levels. There were no significant side effects.

What this means for you is that, if you are a prediabetic, you can safely limit the negative impact of a starchy meal—and can slow your rate of progression towards diabetes.6

Shield Your Body from Chronically Elevated Insulin
Shield Your Body from Chronically Elevated Insulin

Anyone whose blood sugar is not under optimum control is exposed to the dangers of chronically elevated insulin levels. That’s because your body will pump out insulin so long as blood sugar levels are above normal—and can result in an insulin level that may be dangerously elevated in its effort to keep blood sugar at a normal level, making it a truly hidden danger.

Insulin, of course, is a useful and necessary hormone. It is responsible for driving blood sugar into cells, where it’s burned for energy. Without properly regulated amounts of insulin we couldn’t survive.

But insulin, like many hormones, has multiple functions. The little-known “dark side” of insulin is that it is a powerful growth factor.41 And in the healthy adult body, there’s limited usefulness in growth factors. Excessive growth factor production triggers cell replication in places we don’t want it. Insulin and other growth factors are implicated, for example, in cancer, where unregulated cellular reproduction produces deadly malignancies.42And imbalanced growth factors, including insulin, are also implicated in the thickening and poor responsiveness of smooth muscle cells lining arterial walls, contributing to cardiovascular disease.41

Excessive insulin production is the result of insulin resistance, which is another way to say “prediabetes.” High insulin levels are associated with a 37% increase in the risk of dying from cancer—whether or not you have diabetes.40,43 Doctors are finally learning to pay attention to insulin levels as well as to blood sugar levels when evaluating new treatments and when advising their patients. And they are starting to seek therapies that increase insulin sensitivity and lower overall insulin levels.44

Most antidiabetic drugs aim only to drive down blood sugar levels and have no effect on insulin; others are actually intended to increase your insulin levels in the attempt to reduce blood sugar. But transglucosidase works in part by lowering insulin levels as blood sugar normalizes.

In human studies in which healthy subjects with evidence of insulin resistance ate a test meal of white rice (high in starch), placebo recipients saw their insulin levels rise along with their after-meal blood sugars (the expected response), while those receiving transglucosidase had small decreases in insulin over the same time period.6 And in patients with diabetes, who already had elevated insulin levels, 12 weeks of transglucosidase supplementation led to significant drops in insulin concentration overall. These are remarkable findings, given that these subjects made no other changes in their diets or lifestyles.

Reduce the Impact of Diabetes

Another clinical study looked at patients who already had type II diabetes, and the researchers found that the benefits of transglucosidase are just as exciting for those with full-blown diabetes as they are for prediabetics.22

Diabetics not only have elevated blood sugar and often high insulin levels, but also have detectable evidence of advanced glycation end products in the form of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). This blood test is an indication of total blood sugar levels over an approximate two to three-month period.

Patients in the study received total daily doses of 900,000 units of transglucosidase, 2.7 million units of transglucosidase, or a placebo.22 Both doses produced respectable reductions in hemoglobin A1c, lowering it by an average 0.18 and 0.21%, respectively (normal measurements for this test should not exceed 5.5%).

Patients’ insulin concentrations fell significantly as well, by 2.79 and 3.59 mIU/mL, respectively.22 And while transglucosidase does not replace metformin if internal overproduction of glucose by the liver is the culprit behind elevated fasting glucose (>85 mg/dL) or elevated HbA1C (>5.5%), its dramatic insulin reductions are similar to those seen with the drug metformin, which can reduce fasting insulin by about 38% in obese, insulin-resistant people.39,40

But the benefits of transglucosidase for diabetics don’t end there. The patients taking transglucosidase also had significant increases in a beneficial cytokine called adiponectin and significant reductions in triglycerides and diastolic blood pressure.22

On the other hand, the placebo patients experienced significant increases in their body mass index (a measure of total weight for height) and also had increases in markers of fat-induced liver damage. Neither group of patients taking transglucosidase had such changes.22

If you already have type II diabetes, the availability of this novel enzyme is excellent news. It means that supplementing with transglucosidase not only helps protect against dangerous glycation reactions taking place in your tissues (which will cause heart, kidney, nerve and eye disease, given time), but also blunts excessive insulin levels (which raise your risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases). In addition, it can also help protect you from further weight gain and other measures of poor health. And it’s all done without taking a single drug.

Dosing Enzymes
Dosing Enzymes

*Unlike many other nutrients, enzymes are dosed according to their unit of activity. One enzymatic unit is the amount of enzyme needed to convert one micromole (µmol) of a substance per minute. This is not to be confused with the International Unit (IU), which is an unrelated measure of other biologically active substances such as vitamin D.

Because transglucosidase is an enzyme, the dosages are measured in “units of enzyme activity” not milligrams or International Units (IU). A 450,000 unit dose is typically the amount found in one capsule.


Chronically elevated glucose and insulin levels, especially those immediately following a meal, should be a major concern of any adult—even if you have no known history of high blood sugar. High insulin and glucose blood levels are at least as dangerous as high cholesterol when it comes to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

In addition, chronically elevated glucose and insulin sharply elevate cancer rates. That’s why it’s important to take all possible steps to prevent dietary starch from converting into deadly sugar calories.

Transglucosidase is a groundbreaking supplement that is the first of its kind. Its dual mechanism of action helps manage high blood sugar and excess insulin by blocking the release of harmful sugar from starch…converting it instead into beneficial fiber.

This is a medical breakthrough capable of mitigating the growing diabetes epidemic—and is a critical new tool in our kit for managing dangerous metabolic conditions.

If your fasting glucose is over 85 mg/dL (which most adults are), or you have other indicators of glucose impairment such as elevated hemoglobin A1c or elevated fasting insulin, take transglucosidase before your two heaviest starch-containing meals of the day.

Human clinical trials have established its value in healthy as well as diabetic individuals. And that translates to lower risks for cancer, vision problems, and heart disease.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

Doggie Diabetes
Doggie Diabetes

Diabetes is common in dogs as well as people. Fortunately, transglucosidase can help manage glucose levels in dogs as well as in humans. When researchers in Japan studied transglucosidase in animals, they found that the results were virtually identical with what we’ve seen in human studies.21

Healthy non-diabetic control dogs receiving transglucosidase experienced lower total after-meal glucose and insulin levels compared with those receiving the control diet alone. And the usual “spike” in after-meal glucose levels was virtually eliminated, allowing the dogs to maintain normal glucose concentrations of 85 to 95 mg/dL.21

Editor's Note

Science continues to evolve, and new research is published daily. As such, we have a more recent article on this topic: Clove Extract Lowers Blood Sugar


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