Broccoli Compound May Help Diabetes Patients, Study Finds

A new study in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggests that those who suffer from type 2 diabetes might be able to manage their blood sugar levels with the aid of concentrated broccoli sprout extract.

The majority of diabetics suffer from type 2 diabetes. While the five to 10 percent of diabetics with type 1 cannot produce insulin - because their immune system destroys the cells that produce it - the remainder of diabetics with type 2 lack sufficient insulin or cannot use the insulin in their bodies effectively.

More than 300 million people in the world suffer from type 2, and they require medication to help them manage the levels of sugar and insulin in their blood. Yet a full 15% of these diabetics cannot take metformin, the primary drug used for this purpose, because they have reduced kidney function and the medication could damage their organs and lead to lactic acidosis, an uncomfortable build-up of lactic acid. Among the patients who do take metformin, around 30% develop other unpleasant symptoms.

A team of researchers led by doctoral student Annika Axelsson - from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden - has located an alternative by using an innovative approach to locate compounds that seem to check the gene expression changes caused by type 2 diabetes.

Researchers began by creating a signature for the disease, a group of genes that are commonly characteristic of a certain medical condition. They identified 1,720 genes that are associated with hyperglycemia, an excess of glucose in the blood typically experienced by diabetics. They narrowed these genes to 50 key genes that would serve as the signature. Using a database of drug compounds, they used a modeling program to determine which compounds were best at counteracting the signature they had developed.

Natural Compound

Researchers quickly zeroed in on sulforaphane, a natural compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. This compound seemed so useful because it diminished glucose production in liver cells; when administered to diabetic rats, the compound altered their gene expression.

Based on these results, the researchers studied 97 diabetic humans in a 12-week double-blind study with placebos for the control group. Test subjects were given broccoli sprout extracts with approximately 100 times the sulforaphane typically found in broccoli. Non-obese patients showed no effects, but obese patients saw a reduction in levels of blood sugar.

Normally, diabetics retain high blood sugar even when fasting, but sulforaphane cut fasting blood glucose levels by 10%, a significant enough amount that it may reduce further health complications. The compound lacks any of the side effects of metformin and could make a suitable replacement.

Future studies will see if sulforaphane can help those with prediabetes avoid developing type 2 diabetes. As a very debilitating condition, diabetes has plagued a substantial amount of individuals in recent years because of dietary missteps and lack of information. Our consumption culture has ravaged the health of so many and most doesn't know where to look when it comes to taking preventative measures to protect their sanctity of health.

Adding something like broccoli into an eating plan with regularity can help more than some people think. Making better food decisions and staying away from things like sugar and processed carbs is a good way to manage this disease. Mismanagement or failure to properly deal with diabetes can be disastrous.

 

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