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Broccoli Sprout Extract Found By USA Study To Control Blood Sugar Levels

Broccoli Sprout Extract Found By USA Study To Control Blood Sugar Levels
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Facts About Diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by persistently high post-prandial blood glucose (post-prandial means after eating). For people who are not affected by diabetes, their metabolism typically works like this:

1. Food enters the gastrointestinal tract, where glucose from food enters the bloodstream;
2. Glucose in the blood then stimulates the production of insulin;
3. Glucose is then taken in by cells, lowering blood glucose levels;
4. The cells use the glucose to produce energy which is needed by the body to function.

Diabetes has two types: Type 1 (previously known as juvenile diabetes because it typically appears among children and adolescents) and Type 2 (which is lifestyle-induced).

In Type 1 diabetes, the body has a physiologic problem: it doesn’t produce enough insulin to meet the needs of the body. Without insulin to stimulate glucose-uptake by the cells, blood glucose levels remain high despite a healthy diet. People affected by type 1 diabetes would need regular insulin injection to manage their blood glucose levels. [1]

Type 2 diabetes is much more common, because it is caused entirely by bad diets and lifestyle choices. People who eat too much sweets and carbohydrates, basically a diet that constantly keeps their blood sugar levels high, can be diagnosed with this type of diabetes. Your unhealthy diet causes persistently high blood sugar levels which can cause the body’s cells to become resistant to insulin (or to stop producing it altogether). [2]

The global burden of diabetes affects millions of people, from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, according to the World Health Organization. The prevalence of the disease among adults aged 18 years and older has almost doubled since 1980, from 4.7% to 8.5% in 2014. The WHO also notes that prevalence is higher in middle and low-income countries.However, the numbers don’t stop there. In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million mortalities all over the world were directly attributed to diabetes, with 2.2 million mortalities directly attributed to high blood glucose (not necessarily diabetes) in 2012. [3]

Typically, diabetes is managed with two ways: lifestyle adjustments which involve diet and exercise and medication. Doctors will typically prescribe either oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs) like metformin and/or insulin injections. But like every other medication on the market, these medications have side effects to watch out for. So what choice do we have?

Broccoli Sprouts And Diabetes

In 2017, a study was published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science that focused on diabetes and what could be used to manage it aside from conventional medications. The researchers delved into the genetic expression of diabetes, using 50 genes against 3800 drug signatures. They zoned in on a substance called sulforaphane (taken from broccoli), which was able to suppress glucose products from liver cells, reversing the disease in diabetic animals who suffered from increased glucose production and glucose intolerance. [4]

Out of the thousands of drugs included in the study, sulforaphane ranked first. However, the researchers emphasized that sulforaphane was unable to improve insulin signaling in the subjects, but instead was able to target glucose production specifically in affected cells. It was able to reduce the expression of genes involved in glucose production, not only reducing the risk for diabetes, but also reversing it.

The researchers who published the study found positive results in a trial they conducted on people who were affected by type 2 diabetes. A total of 97 subjects were able to complete the study; out of the 97, 60 had well-managed diabetes and 94 subjects were taking metformin. After baseline tests for fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and OGTT were taken from the subjects, they were given oral broccoli extract once a day for 12 weeks, against a control group that was given a placebo. The results were conclusive; the extract was able to significantly improve fasting blood glucose in the experimental group. In fact, the subjects who benefited the most from the treatment were obese patients with poorly managed diabetes.

Other related studies: An earlier study was published by Gu, et. al. in 2016, which also focused on sulforaphane and diabetes, specifically diabetic cardiomyopathy. One of the major complications that could arise from diabetes is the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy, wherein the persistently high glucose levels damage the muscles of the heart, causing cardiac dysfunction and even failure. The study found that sulforaphane was able to protect the heart from diabetic cardiomyopathy through the upregulation of antioxidants like metallothionein which in turn protected cardiac tissue. [5]

A recent publication by Mazarakis, et. al. in 2019 focused on the significant anti-inflammatory abilities of l-sulforaphane, which could treat various chronic inflammatory disease affecting the world’s population. After reviewing clinical studies and trials on l-sulforaphane, the researchers found that the substance was able to significantly improve conditions like breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, and diabetes. [6]


[1] Mayo Clinic. Type 2 diabetes.

[2] World Health Organization. Diabetes.

[3] American Diabetes Association. Type 1 Diabetes.

[4] Axelsson, A., et. al. (2017). Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

[5] Gu, J. et. al. (2017). Metallothionein Is Downstream of Nrf2 and Partially Mediates Sulforaphane Prevention of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy.

[6] Mazarakis, N. et. al. (2019). The potential use of l-sulforaphane for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases: A review of the clinical evidence.