Some dietary recommendations have always remained constant. “Eat more fruits and vegetables” is probably the first one that comes to mind. And if you aren’t doing it already, it may be time to start adding more produce to your grocery list, especially if you have diabetes. A component in broccoli may be gaining reputation as a natural compound to help reverse the condition!
In recent research published online in June in Science Translational Medicine, researchers found that a concentrated extract of the phytochemical sulforaphane helped obese type 2 diabetes patients control their high blood sugar levels. Sulforaphane is a chemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, with the last being a particularly good source.
Sulforaphane was tested because other research has suggested that it may help reduce inflammation in the body, and possibly fight cancer and fatty liver disease. In early lab tests, sulforaphane partly blocked liver cells from producing glucose (blood sugar). In trials with diabetic rats, they also found favorable results. But would it have the same effect in humans?
The research team recruited 97 people with type 2 diabetes, most of whom were on the diabetes drug metformin. 37 patients still had poorly controlled blood sugar even with the medication, but the majority of them were keeping their levels “controlled”. Half of the patients were given a concentrated sulforaphane powder once a day for 12 weeks, in addition to their usual medication. Bear in mind that this was a special formulation produced specifically for this study, not a commercial product like the ones you may find at health food stores (you would have to eat more than a plateful of broccoli each day to get the amount of sulforaphane used in this study).
What they found in the supplement group was that those who were obese and had poorly controlled sugar levels, their hemoglobin A1c drop from around 7.4% to right around 7%! No other lifestyle variables were noted as having changed. A1c gives an aggregate view of what a person’s blood sugars have averaged over the past 3 months. When it goes above 5.6, the body is starting to become resistant to insulin, the process that leads to elevated blood sugars and eventually diabetes.
Sounds pretty impressive for just “popping a pill” when no other changes were made. Unfortunately, it was only in the unhealthiest group that this was seen. But it does underscore the powerful effects that nutrients from food can provide. As we work with our patients, it is a combination of improved diet and consistent exercise that helps them lower their A1c values and gets them out of the diabetic range (and for most, off their medications if they keep their blood sugars under control!). So, there’s no need to wait for a “miracle supplement” to be created if you’re struggling with diabetes or are in the pre-diabetic category.
We have great programs to tackle blood sugar issues, and in the process, you should also experience better energy, improved mental clarity, better digestion and see many blood lab values come back into normal range. For many people, all they need is the proper guidance, a little monitoring, and a proven plan to help get their health back on track. That is what we provide, so if you can be dedicated in making a better life for yourself, all you have to do is call because we are here and ready to help!
Oh, and you may want to start adding some more broccoli to your diet as well!