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Bitter supplement may combat sweet tooth

Thursday August 26th, 2010

The chemical that gives grapefruit its bitter taste might provide a powerful treatment for diabetes and high cholesterol, researchers revealed today.

The chemical, naringenin, is said to be as effective as diabetes and cholesterol drugs combined.

Researchers said the impact of the chemical in cleansing the liver of fat and glucose is similar to a period of long fasting.

One researcher described the effect as "similar to the Atkins' diet - without many of its side-effects."

The laboratory study of naringenin is reported in the journal PLoS ONE and was conducted in Jerusalem and at Massachusetts General Hospital, USA.

Researcher Dr Martin Yarmush, director of a centre for engineering in medicine in Massachusetts, said: "The liver behaves as if fasting, breaking down fatty acids instead of carbohydrates."

Fellow researcher Dr Yaakov Nahmias, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said: "Remarkably, naringenin is a dietary supplement with a clear safety record. Evidence suggests it might actually protect the liver from damage".

* A second study today links the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers in Japan studied some 135 elderly volunteers, conducting autopsies of their brains following death.

These found that 72 per cent of those with known insulin resistance had damage to the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease. This compared with 62 per cent of those without insulin problems.

The findings were reported in the journal Neurology last night.

Goldwasser J, Cohen PY, Yang E, Balaguer P, Yarmush ML, et al. (2010) Transcriptional Regulation of Human and Rat Hepatic Lipid Metabolism by the Grapefruit Flavonoid Naringenin: Role of PPARa, PPARc and LXRa. PLoS ONE 5(8): e12399. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012399

Tags: Diabetes | Diet & Food | Geriatric Health

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