Antioxidants could help protect against damaging effects of hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar results in increased oxidative stress in the brain due to free radicals
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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

November 22, 2018.Episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) are a common occurrence among diabetics treated with insulin. Repeated episodes are associated with cognitive impairment which can worsen over time. Research presented at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual conference held during November 2018 in Glasgow suggests a protective effect for antioxidants against damage to the brain caused by low glucose.

“Low blood sugar is an almost unavoidable consequence of insulin therapy,” observed Dr. Alison McNeilly of the University of Dundee. “This work demonstrates that by improving the body’s own antioxidant defense system we can reverse some of the side effects associated with diabetes, such as poor cognitive function.”

Previous research conducted by Dr. McNeilly and colleagues found that low blood sugar results in increased oxidative stress in the brain due to free radicals. In the current study, insulin was used to induce low glucose levels three times weekly for four weeks in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. One group of mice received sulforaphane, an antioxidant found in broccoli and other vegetables, 24 hours before each low blood glucose episode.

Treatment with sulforaphane resulted in significantly lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term glucose control. Animals that received the compound experienced an increase in antioxidant markers, less free radical damage, and better memory compared to those that were not treated with sulforaphane. “The concentration of sulforaphane used in this study would not be attainable in a normal diet rich in vegetables,” Dr. McNeilly noted. “However, there are numerous highly potent compounds in clinical trials which may prevent cognitive impairments caused by free radicals to help diabetes patients.”

“Activation of antioxidant pathways offer a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of cognitive impairments associated with reactive hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes,” the authors conclude.

—D Dye

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