Diabetes is a complex disease. It affects the whole body. And if you get it, chances are multiple doctors will want to treat you. They’ll try to fix everything from your vision to your brain to your heart.
But new research shows there is hope from a natural source. And it could put an end to all those doctor visits.
It has the potential to fight complications from diabetes. And that could cut down on out-of-control national health care costs.
What’s really exciting about this solution? It’s found in a fruit that you can pick up at the grocery store tomorrow. The fruit contains a special flavonoid that protects your body in unique ways.
Dr. David Schubert is a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He heads the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory there. He studies the way hormones affect brain cells. And he does it well. He was twice a recipient of the Jacob Javits Award in Neurosciences.
Dr. Schubert co-authored a study about the fruit flavonoid. The results appeared in the journal PLoS One.
Working In More Ways Than One
Shubert and his colleagues had already discovered that the flavonoid could protect nerve cells and aid the body’s metabolic and anti-inflammation activities. In this new study, they tested its ability to target multiple problems at once.
The researchers worked with Akita mice. These mice have a mutation of the insulin gene and some of the characteristics of type 1 diabetes. Their symptoms include kidney problems and anxiety behaviors.
The mice were given a daily dose of the fruit flavonoid – 25-40 mg/kg. And while blood sugars remained high in the Akita mice, kidney enlargement due to diabetes was significantly reduced. High protein urine levels dropped. And the mice displayed less anxiety.
How does it happen? The fruit flavonoid targets AGEs (advanced glycation end-products). These are proteins that have been linked to many diabetic complications. The flavonoid increases the activity of an enzyme (glyoxalase 1) that helps remove AGE precursors.
“The manuscript describes for the first time a drug that prevents both kidney and brain complications in a type I diabetes mouse model,” Schubert said. “Moreover, it demonstrates the probable molecular basis of how the therapeutic is working.”
The Garden Fruit
Wondering which fruit delivers this powerful ingredient? The answer is simple: It’s the strawberry. The flavonoid is fisetin. It’s found in other fruits and vegetables, but it’s most abundant in strawberries. In the plant, it helps protect the leaves and fruit from insects. In the human body, it has been shown to protect neurons and combat Alzheimer’s. It is also considered to be a weapon against prostate cancer. And now researchers have discovered it can fight diabetes, too.
Dr. Pam Maher co-authored the Shubert study. She said you would have to eat 37 strawberries daily to get enough fisetin to mimic the results produced in the Akita mice. There’s no way you can do that.
Scientists hope to develop a fisetin supplement in the near future. Meanwhile, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. It starts with diet. Lower your grain intake. Grains spike glucose levels. Get the majority of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids – like fisetin – instead of bread or pasta. Eat healthy natural fats (e.g., from almonds, walnuts, and avocados). And get lean protein from fish like mackerel, salmon, and tuna. (These fish also deliver heart-healthy omega-3s.)
If you already suffer from diabetic complications, try evening primrose oil (EPO). Studies have shown it can reduce diabetic neuropathy symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 2-8 grams of EPO daily. It’s available as an oil or in capsules. Be sure it’s standardized to contain 8% gamma-linolenic acid.
Always be sure to consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or adding any supplements. We will, of course, continue to update you on the new research.
To your best health,
Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”