Doctors always tell us to eat more greens, but it turns out they could soon start prescribing broccoli. It was discovered that a powder which contains concentrated extract from broccoli could be extremely beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
Research showed that the extract lowered blood glucose levels by up to ten percent in those with type 2 diabetes.
The disease usually develops in overweight people around middle age. Insulin is a hormone which controls the level of glucose in the blood, but when the body stops responding to it, the person is said to have type 2 diabetes.
When insulin regulation is abnormal it leads to high blood glucose levels, which, in turn, raise the risk of kidney problems, blindness, and heart attacks.
Patients with type 2 diabetes usually take metformin to help control their blood sugar levels. But, around 15% of them can’t take this diabetes drug because of kidney damage risk.
Dr. Elizabeth Robertson says the drug was only tested in a small number of patients and helped only a part of them. That’s why she believes more research is needed to prove that metformin can be used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Still, she recommends that people with the disease should continue with the prescribed treatment.
Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, a chemical known to reduce blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. A team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden wondered if that could be true for people.
So, they gave a concentrated dose of the chemical to 97 patients with type 2 diabetes once a day for 3 months, or placebo. Everyone, except for three people, continued taking the diabetes drug. People who didn’t take metformin could control their diabetes pretty well without it.
As researchers say, the concentration of the chemical given was around a hundred times that found naturally in the green vegetable. In other words, it was the same as consuming 5kg of broccoli a day.
The results showed that the participants who took the extract had their blood sugar levels lowered by ten percent more than those on the placebo. Also, the broccoli extract proved to be more effective in obese people with poor diabetes management.
Overall, researchers are very excited about the broccoli extract and its effects on people with type 2 diabetes.
They can’t wait to bring it to patients after seeing that it’s able to lower blood glucose up to 10% – a reduction which is enough to cut the risk of diabetes complications like kidney disease, vision problems.
Further studies discovered that sulforaphane and metformin reduce blood glucose in different ways. Metformin increases insulin sensitivity, so cells take more excess glucose out of the bloodstream.
On the other hand, the chemical suppresses liver enzymes which trigger secretion of glucose, thus reducing blood glucose levels.
This is why researchers believe the broccoli extract is not competitive to metformin, but complementary. However, since many people with diabetes can’t take the drug because of kidney complications, the extract could be a perfect substitute.
Researchers now seek approval for the powder, but it’ll probably take at least two years. In the meantime, they plan to investigate the effects of broccoli extract on pre-diabetes patients who aren’t taking Metformin.