Pills, pills, pills. It seems every ailment — from headaches to high blood pressure — needs them. But, what if you could swap the medication for vegetables?
An international group of researchers envision such a future for type-2 diabetics based on new results published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Their findings show how a compound found in broccoli improves diabetic outcomes to an extent that rivals the go-to drug treatment, with fewer severe side effects.
“To many patients, it might be more attractive to take a broccoli shot or drink than having to take another pill,” said Anders Rosengren, at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the study’s senior author.
Diabetes afflicts more than 400 million people worldwide, four times as many people as in 1980. Part of the problem is the disease can progress unnoticed for years, even decades, until severe complications like compromised kidney function arise.
“It’s why we need to be so active with this disease so we have the proper treatment at early stages,” Rosengren said.
Their project wants to find an alternative for metformin, a gold-standard drug that tackles a hallmark of diabetes: runaway production of glucose in the liver. Insulin normally keeps glucose on a tight leash, but becomes dysregulated in diabetes. Although metformin works well, it has a few problems.