A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and collaborators reveal that vegetables, especially broccoli is capable of decreasing the harmful effects of Type II diabetes in adults who are overweight.
A compound sulforaphane found in broccoli and other cruciferous, plants of the cabbage family, vegetables could boost the body’s ability to fight off cancer.
In the early 1990s, pharmacology professor Paul Talalay, also a notable experimental generalist, deemed sulforaphane a phytochemical, a natural chemical made by plants.
Talalay proved to the world that sulforaphane found in broccoli was effective in helping the body ward off cancer this is turn boosted broccoli sales worldwide.
A professor at Johns Hopkins and nutritional biochemist, Jed Fahey, partnered with Talalay in a study that would reveal that broccoli sprouts, plants that are only three to four days old, have 50 to 100 times more cancer-fighting capability than mature stalks.
Previous studies have shown that sulforaphane is capable of helping the body ward off pathologies from osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and autism.
The new study was determined to be the first to test the effectiveness of sulforaphane against Type II diabetes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 420 million people worldwide and 29 million Americans is affected by Type II diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder that continues to increase in prevalence.
Type II diabetes occurs when the body can no longer utilize insulin properly. Insulin is a very important hormone that aids in regulating blood glucose. When insulin is improperly utilized it causes the blood glucose levels to increase significantly.
Complications of uncontrolled Type II diabetes include heart disease, kidney failure, vision problems and stroke.
While the new study was short-term and small, the results may aid in treatment of diabetes.
“This shows that sulforaphane is useful not only for cancer prevention, but it also demonstrates anti-diabetes and many other activities, Fahey said.
Sulforaphane is also found in kale, broccoli, cabbage and bok choy.
Sulforaphane’s unique molecular makeup boosts the body’s natural production of Nrf2, a very important protein that regulates the production of antioxidants, which are known for repaired damaged, decaying and stressed cells.
“This molecule [Nrf2] is responsible for shouting out to cells, ‘You’re in trouble, you’re being attacked by sunlight, by ultraviolet light, by toxins. You’ve got to up your game, you’ve got to enhance your protective strategy,’” Fahey said. “Nrf2 is a crucial regulator and sulforaphone is one of the most potent inducers of that regulator.”
The researchers conducted the study over a 12-week period, with 97 adults with Type II diabetes. Nearly a third of the participants relied on metformin and a healthy lifestyle to control their blood glucose levels.
Nearly half of the group received the extract daily, while the others received a placebo.
The participants who received the extract saw their glucose levels decrease by an average of 10 percent, which in turn could reduce the complications linked to Type II diabetes.
Participants with the least controlled diabetes and participants who were obese experienced the greatest drops. The participants who were not classified as obese saw no noticeable change.
The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in June 2017.