The drug Ozempic has been in the news a lot lately.
At first it grabbed attention for its clever television commercials which left viewers wondering “What’s Ozempic?”
Ozempic is a drug intended to treat type 2 diabetes, but once word got out that it could be used to lose weight, it began flying off the shelves. Ozempic, and the lower dose version, Wegovy, requires a prescription, but since 40% of Americans are medically obese, doctors found themselves writing a lot of prescriptions.
Everything was going fine until reality took a bite out of this miracle drug. First, there was a supply shortage. That started when the Belgium company that actually fills the syringes was cited by the FDA for quality concerns.
The supply issues forced a number of people to stop taking the drug, which led to the second reality punch: People who had lost weight while taking the weekly injections quickly regained everything they lost.
The reason behind that is quite simple.
Semaglutide, the medical ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, tricks your body into thinking that you just ate. This stimulates the pancreas which then makes more insulin. This increased level of insulin pulls more sugar out of the blood. Semaglutide also has the knock-on effect of curbing your hunger, because your brain thinks you just ate. The problem is neither of those changes are long lasting.
This approach to controlling your blood sugar levels also ignores the missing link in how obesity and type 2 diabetes develop.
According to research conducted by Dr Wayne Lautt at the University of Manitoba, insulin doesn’t work alone. Lautt and his team have discovered a second hormone, hepatalin, which is produced by the liver and also works to control blood sugar levels. The key difference is that while insulin stores this excess sugar as fat, hepatalin feeds the glucose to the muscles. This process is called ‘nutrient partitioning.’
One outstanding question that still needs to be researched, is whether or not regular doses of Semaglutide or another drug could stimulate greater hepatalin production in the liver. Lautt’s company Scimar hopes to begin clinical trials for NuPa Renew, a drug they hope does just that, in the next year.
In the meantime, people wanting to lower their blood sugar and lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way, will have to resort to real lifestyle changes: eating more vegetables and less processed foods, and going for a daily walk. Those interventions won’t make headlines, but they will contribute to a sustainable improvement in your overall health.