Antioxidants May Be Best Medicine for Diabetes

In Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article

The Commission on Human Medicines has declared that the most popular diabetic drug be taken off the UK market. The Commission says its “risks outweigh its benefits.”

Recent research shows that the drug increases heart attack risk by 43 percent.  And in the US, the drug maker is facing up to six billion dollars in legal suits. Yet an FDA panel has voted to keep it on the US market.

But brand new research shows there’s a much safer option out there. This option may actually prevent the onset of diabetes. It’s cheap and easy to find. It’s easy to factor into your diet each day. And best of all, it’s totally safe with no side effects.

That’s because scientists now believe that antioxidants may be the best medicine for preventing diabetes.

Diabetic Drug in Doubt

The drug in doubt is called Avandia. It was once the best-selling diabetes drug on the market. In 2006, annual sales in the U.S. alone totaled over two billion dollars.

But the drug has been linked to serious health risks. In 2007 a study showed it increased stroke risk by 43 percent. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Since then, sales have fallen, hitting the $520 million mark last year. And all the time law suits are piling up against the drug maker linking Avandia to heart risk.

The FDA responded this summer by setting up a panel to review the drug. There was plenty of evidence saying the drug posed serious risks. The panel was split on its recommendation. Twelve voted to remove the drug. Another 10 wanted increased supervision. And seven voted for stronger warning labels.

But the final recommendation was that the drugs remain on the US market. The FDA is now reviewing that recommendation.

It’s a different story in Europe though. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has gone another route. The UK agency – similar to the FDA – has said that Avandia "no longer has a place on the U.K. market."

The agency has issued a “Dear doctor” letter advising doctors to seek other options to the drug. And the BBC is reporting that a formal decision to remove the drug is imminent.

Research Offers New Hope

UK doctors are being urged to consider other options. And a brand new study shows that there is a very real option out there. It offers hope for preventing diabetes without dangerous drugs.

The study comes from Rome, Italy. And it shows that antioxidants may prevent the onset of diabetes. That’s because they may combat metabolic syndrome.

And that’s good news for diabetics. Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to diabetes. The syndrome causes high blood pressure… elevated insulin… and excess abdominal fat. All of these issues are big factors in developing diabetes.

The new study was led by Dr. Antonio Mancini. He headed it up for the University of the Sacred Heart, Rome. He’s sure that antioxidants can fight metabolic syndrome. And that’s the key to preventing diabetes

"The [positive] effects of antioxidants are known,” says Dr. Mancini. “But we have revealed for the first time they improve hormonal action in [people] with metabolic syndrome."

He set out to see how antioxidants affected insulin resistance. So he gathered 29 people together for his study. Sixteen were men; the other 13 were women. They were all between the ages of 18 and 66. All were obese and insulin-resistant. But none of them had full-blown diabetes.

He split them into four groups. Everyone ate a 1,500-calorie diet rich in protein and low-glycemic carbs.

The first group stuck to this diet. The second group also used this diet, but took a diabetic drug called metformin, which lowers blood glucose, as well. The third group ate the same staple diet, but enriched with antioxidants. And the final group ate the enriched diet and also took metformin.

All four groups lost weight equally. But only the groups eating the high antioxidant diet enjoyed drastic decreases in insulin resistance.

The results were clear: a high antioxidant diet improves insulin resistance with or without drugs.  

Antioxidants May Lower Diabetes Risk

The study offers hope that antioxidants may combat metabolic syndrome. And that’s without metformin. Metformin poses fewer risks than Avandia, but it still has plenty of negative side effects. One third of people taking metformin experience:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Dr. Mancini said the results weren’t surprising. Oxidative stress damages blood cells. That contributes to metabolic syndrome. And antioxidants prevent oxidative damage to cells, often repairing damage. That means antioxidants are a powerful tool in fighting metabolic syndrome and helping to prevent the onset of diabetes.

Antioxidants can be found in many foods that are naturally rich in fruits and vegetables. But they can also be found in some surprisingly sinful foods too!

The best sources for them include:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries
  • Dark chocolate (over 70 percent cocoa)
  • Pecans
  • Raspberries
  • Red wine
  • Strawberries
  • Walnuts