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Flavonoids in strawberries may have the power to fight diabetes and its associated complications

Flavonoids in strawberries may have the power to fight diabetes and its associated complications

Strawberries contain the flavonoid, fisetin, which recently was found to reduce the complications of diabetes and its associated complications in the Salk Institute Cellular Neurobiology lab. Through various studies, the lab showed a correlation with fisetin and improved memory in mice, and a correlation with protection of kidney and brain function.

The scientists at the Salk Institute used Akita mice that have a blood sugar level comparable to individuals with type 1 diabetes. These mice also have symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes that include kidney disease, and other diseases associated with loss of touch sensation. When the mice were feed a diet infused with fisetin, their disease states (kidney enlargement and high urine protein levels) decreased to the point of reversal. The flavonoid also changed the behavior of the mice, making them less anxious and restoring their movements to a more normal state.

Fisetin may also have a role in cancer and Alzheimer’s disease as it can target multiple organs. In other studies, fisetin was shown to decrease the production of tumors in prostate cancer cells. And in diabetes research, studies have shown a correlation between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Hence, taking your daily dose of fisetin may reduce your risk of diabetes, prostate cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
But how much fisetin should a person consume? Scientists at the Salk Institute recommend eating 37 strawberries a day to equal levels consumed by the mice in their study. But, it may be more feasible to take fisetin as a supplemental drug.

If taken as a supplemental drug, fisetin may also reduce complications of other diseases besides diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, since fisetins may reduce inflammatory agents in the body. Fisetin was shown to upregulate an enzyme that may affect proteins with inflammatory influences. This enzyme is known as glyoxalase 1, and it reduces advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). High levels of AGEs have been correlated with diabetes and its complications, and cancers. So, fisetin may be able to activate a cascade of events that reduces our risk to many diseases just by the fact that it activates a beneficial enzyme. The Salk Institute was the first to describe a study documenting the ability of a compound to enhance glyoxalase 1.
Of course the Salk Institute also recommends eating a healthy diet of different fruits and vegetables as well as exercise, social and mental activity, avoiding refined sugars like those found in processed foods and soda drinks will also help in the avoidance of AGEs as most are found in processed foods.

Many other flavonoids exist such as polyphenolic compounds in blueberries and wine. Polyphenolic compounds are related to fisetin chemically and both may be incorporated into a drug supplement to help in the combat against a multitude of diseases. Clinical trials of such a drug may be difficult to complete as many people have unknown reactions to natural products and protecting the people in these clinic trails may prove to be a daunting task. But, if the trails are successful, fisetin may have great potential in the war against diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.


--Reproduced by Vicky Swier from an article in Science Daily (June 28, 2011).

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