Chemical Found In Broccoli May Help Battle Blood Sugar Levels In Diabetics

Diabetes patients may have a possible solution that helps control blood sugar levels. Health experts often advise people to eat their greens and eating broccoli could potentially hold the key to countering type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden conducted a new study, which reveals that the chemical sulforaphane – which is found naturally in broccoli and some other veggies – may help type 2 diabetes patients control their blood sugar levels effectively.

Sulforaphane Works Effectively As Blood Sugar Monitor

To ascertain if sulforaphane was indeed effective in monitoring the blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetics, the researchers developed a genetic model for type 2 diabetes patients. This profile was centered on 50 key genes, whose alterations are linked with type 2 diabetes.

The team examined nearly 3,852 signatures to ascertain if any compound was effective in reversing diabetes’ signature.

“By interrogating a library of 3800 drug signatures, we identified sulforaphane as a compound that may reverse the disease signature. Sulforaphane suppressed glucose production from hepatic cells by nuclear translocation of nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (NRF2) and decreased expression of key enzymes in gluconeogenesis,” the researchers noted.

Prior to the human study, the researchers administered the broccoli compound on rats. They found that using sulforaphane, the genetic signature of the disease was effectively reversed. Moreover, the compound also monitored the rats’ blood sugar levels, similar to what metformin does in humans. For the unfamiliar, metformin is a common treatment for controlling blood sugar levels.

Can The Broccoli Compound Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes?

For the study, the researchers – led by Annika Axelsson – observed 97 individuals who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The subjects were given a broccoli sprout extract in powdered form, which was concentrated and contained sulforaphane. This sulforaphane dosage was 100 times more powerful than what is usually found in broccoli naturally.

The participants were either given the broccoli for 12 weeks, once a day, or the placebo each day for the same period. Out of all the subjects, only three were on metformin.

The researchers discovered that obese subjects who took the broccoli, which was concentrated with sulforaphane showed decreased glucose production. They found that the broccoli compound enhanced the subject’s HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin, which basically helps gauge the blood sugar levels of obese people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Those who were administered the broccoli chemical also showed a 10 percent better fasting glucose level vis-à-vis subjects who were given the placebo.

The scientists also found that the chemical compound in broccoli can safeguard the human body against problems such as kidney failure and neuropathy, which are frequently associated with diabetes. However, the sulforaphane did not impact participants who were not obese.

Is The Use Of Sulforaphane For Treatment A Viable Option?

Nearly 30 percent people all over the world who suffer from type 2 diabetes are unable to take metformin. This is because they are often vulnerable to kidney damage. Therefore, there is a need for new and effective alternatives, which will help type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar.

The latest research suggests that sulforaphane may be a viable alternative for treating the disease. However, as the repurposed drug was tried on a small section of people, the team asserts that more in-depth research needs to be conducted before sulforaphane doses can become an established treatment method.

[Featured Image by Dennis Doyle/Getty Images]