New study demonstrates sulforaphane helps to improve glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes

Posted on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 10:08 AM

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According to a study published two days ago, researchers demonstrated that sulforaphane improves fasting glucose levels and decreases HbA1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are significant health care problems in the United States. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 300 million people, and up to 15% of patients cannot take the medication metformin because of kidney damage risks. As a result, researchers sought out to identify compounds that may inhibit disease-associated gene expression changes seen with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers constructed a signature for type 2 diabetes based on 50 genes, then used publically available expression datasets to screen 3,852 compounds for drugs that potentially reverse the disease. They demonstrated that sulforaphane reduced glucose production by liver cells growing in culture and altered liver gene expression away from a diseased state in diabetic rats.

Researchers then gave 97 patients with type 2 diabetes a concentrated broccoli sprout extract (BSE) for 12 weeks. As result, BSE reduced fasting glucose in patients with dysregulated type 2 diabetes but not in patients with well-regulated type 2 diabetes. They also observed an association between body mass index and BSE-induced change in HbA1c. There were significantly reduced levels of HbA1c after BSE treatment in obese patients with dysregulated type 2 diabetes. BSE was also more effective in lowering fasting blood glucose in patients with elevated triglyceride levels and in patients with high HOMA-IR. The BSE-induced reduction of HbA1c correlated with high fatty liver index.

These results demonstrate that sulforaphane reduces glucose production by NRF2 translocation and decreased expression of key gluconeogenetic enzymes and improves fasting glucose and HbA1c in obese patients with dysregulated type 2 diabetes. Sulforaphane reduces glucose production by mechanisms different than metformin and also protects against diabetic neuropathy, renal failure, and atherosclerosis due to its antioxidative effects.

There are several additional nutrients that can play a role in improving insulin signaling such as chromium, zinc, carnosine, benfotiamine, alpha lipoic acid, and inositol. Also, essential fatty acids should be consumed for overall health, but most individuals with insulin resistance are deficient. Fish oils improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.

While insulin resistance continues to be a major health issue in the US, it is preventable and reversible through lifestyle changes, exercise, stress management, and proper nutrition and supplements. Weight loss and exercise are considered among the best treatments for restoring the body’s ability to respond to insulin.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

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