July 1, 2011

Strawberries Fight Diabetes

(Ivanhoe Newswire)"”We have all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away but what about a strawberry? A recent study from scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggests that consuming strawberries could keep a herd of doctors away including the neurologist, the endocrinologist, and even the oncologist.

This recent study shows that fisetin, a naturally-occurring flavonoid found most abundantly in strawberries lessens complications caused by diabetes.  Flavonoids are significant to the body because they help protect blood vessels from rupturing or leaking, enhance the power of vitamin C, protect cells from oxygen damage, and prevent excessive inflammation throughout the body.
Pam Maher, Ph.D., senior staff scientist at the Salk Institute's Cellular Neurobiology Lab, initially identified fisetin as a neuro-protective flavonoid ten years ago.

Maher was quoted as saying, "In plants, flavonoids act as sunscreens and protective leaves and fruits from insects. As foods they are implemented in the protective effect of the Mediterranean Diet."

To test the benefits of fisetin, Maher and her colleagues evaluated the effects of this flavonoid supplementation in Akita mice, a robust model of type I diabetes also known as child onset diabetes. The mice exhibited increased blood sugar typical of type I diabetes and displayed pathologies seen in human complications of both types I and II of diabetes such as kidney disease.

Mice fed a fisetin-enriched diet remained diabetic however, acute kidney enlargement seen in the untreated mice was reversed and high urine protein levels, a sign of kidney disease, fell. The study also suggested that there is a likely molecular mechanism underlying these effects.

Researchers observed that blood and brain levels of sugar affixed to proteins, known as advanced glycation end-products or AGEs, were reduced in fisetin-treated mice compared to those that were untreated. This finding is substantial because research implicates that high blood AGE levels accompany many, if not most, diabetic complications. Excessively high AGE levels also correlate with inflammatory activity thought to promote some cancers.

In order to ingest fisetin levels equivalent to those fed to the Akita mice, Maher estimates that humans would have to consume up to 37 strawberries each day. For this reason, rather than through diet, Maher envisions fisetin-like drugs could be taken as a supplement.

David Schubert, Ph.D., professor and head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory concurs that the findings of this study only reinforce the common knowledge taught to us by our mothers such as eating a balanced diet with as many freshly prepared organic foods as possible. He worries about the hoops that need to be jumped through to bring a natural product like fisetin to clinical trials.

Schubert was quoted saying, "We will never know if a compound like fisetin works in humans until someone is willing to support a clinical trial."

SOURCE: PLoS ONE, June 27, 2011