Let’s face the facts: treating type 2 diabetes is no walk in the park. Those suffering from the condition spend many years taking meds, as otherwise, the disease will kill them. Death from type 2 diabetes can occur over time when you level the disease uncontrolled because your blood vessels and the nerves necessary for the heart will get damaged.
It’s time to talk about GLP-1 receptors, which represent the type of medication that those suffering from type 2 diabetes can use in order to get those blood sugar levels lower.
GLP-1 receptor agonists operate by leveraging the hormone known as GLP-1, which is naturally produced in any person’s small intestine, to regulate blood sugar levels. The hormone is able to stimulate insulin secretion, facilitating glucose uptake by cells while at the same time inhibiting glucagon secretion to prevent excessive glucose release into the bloodstream.
GLP-1 helps to minimize the amount of glucose released from food into the bloodstream by slowing down stomach emptying. Additionally, GLP-1 receptor agonists are able to increase the feeling of satiety after meals, contributing to their weight loss benefits. Shorter-acting GLP-1s excel in reducing peak glucose levels, while longer-acting ones offer a more balanced approach, effectively lowering both post-meal and fasting glucose levels.
The benefits of using GLP-1 receptors
Here are the benefits of using GLP-1 receptors by those who suffer from type 2 diabetes:
- Significant weight loss: GLP-1 receptor agonists have shown the potential for significant weight loss. Some specific drugs that target GLP-1 receptors, such as Ozempic (which is a drug used for diabetes) and Wegovy (which is used by those who try to lose weight), utilize a GLP-1 called semaglutide and have been developed specifically to address both conditions. The dosage may vary, but the underlying mechanism will remain the same.
- Reduced risk of kidney and heart disease: Certain GLP-1 receptor agonists have been proven to lower the risk of heart disease and kidney disease in patients. These medications provide additional benefits beyond blood sugar control, making them valuable for those who are at risk or already diagnosed with these conditions.
- Effective blood glucose control: GLP-1 receptor agonists have demonstrated high efficacy when it comes to lowering blood glucose levels and reducing A1C levels. They are often prescribed in combination with other drugs as part of a comprehensive treatment approach for those who want to manage their diabetes.
- Low risk of hypoglycemia: GLP-1 receptor agonists, when used alone, pose a low risk of hypoglycemia. However, caution should be exercised when combining GLP-1s with other drugs that are capable of lowering blood glucose, such as sulfonylureas or insulin, as the risk of hypoglycemia could increase in such cases.
What are the side effects of GLP-1 receptors?
Taking GLP-1 receptors could result in some pretty nasty side effects for some people, such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. However, these side effects won’t last long. Most of the GLP-1 receptors are administered through injections, which means that you’ll have to deal with a little pain, unfortunately.
What are the most common GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs?
The list of the most common GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs is pretty short, so feel free to check it out below:
- Bydureon (exenatide) – it can be taken as an injection once per week
- Rybelsus (oral semaglutide) – it can be taken once per day
- Victoza (liraglutide) – it can be taken once per day as an injection
- Byetta (exenatide) – it can be taken as an injection two times a day
- Ozempic (semaglutide) – it can be taken once a week as an injection
- Adlyxin (US) / Lyxumia (EU) (lixisenatide) – it can be taken as an injection once a day
- Trulicity (dulaglutide) – it can be taken once per week as an injection
Alternatives to GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs
There are some powerful alternatives to GLP-1 receptor agonists for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Here are some of the drugs that are most commonly used:
- Sulfonylureas: Sulfonylureas is able to stimulate the patient’s pancreas in order to release more insulin. These drugs can be effective when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels, although it needs to be said that they carry a higher risk of hypoglycemia compared to GLP-1 receptor agonists.
- Thiazolidinediones (TZDs): TZDs are able to improve insulin sensitivity in a person’s body and help reduce glucose production in the liver. These drugs are usually used in combination with other medications for diabetes.
- Insulin: Those individuals who deal with more advanced or uncontrolled diabetes can take advantage of insulin therapy. Insulin is able to effectively lower blood sugar levels, although it careful monitoring and dosage adjustment are needed.
- DPP-4 Inhibitors: DPP-4 inhibitors can effectively help regulate blood sugar by blocking the enzyme DPP-4, which breaks down the hormone GLP-1. By inhibiting DPP-4, GLP-1 levels will increase, leading to improved blood sugar control.
- Metformin: Metformin is often considered the first-line medication that can be used for type 2 diabetes. This medication works by reducing the production of glucose in the patient’s liver and improving insulin sensitivity in the body.
- SGLT2 Inhibitors: SGLT2 inhibitors work by reducing the reabsorption of glucose by the kidneys, causing excess glucose to be eliminated through urine. These drugs can lower blood sugar levels and may provide additional benefits such as weight loss and cardiovascular protection.
Those suffering from type 2 diabetes are those individuals who need to take GLP-1 receptors, but only after their doctor tells them to. In other words, don’t take any medication before you are absolutely sure that it’s ok to take them, which means that a healthcare professional needs to give his “ok.” People can take GLP-1 alone or in combination with other diabetes drugs, such as metformin.