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New research: resveratrol improves diabetes by affecting the brain

Saturday, November 07, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: resveratrol, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Think of a treatment for diabetes, and you probably think of a drug or natural therapy that targets the pancreas to help normalize blood sugar levels. Resveratrol, a phytochemical found in red grapes, has been shown to have a host of health benefits -- including improving diabetes in animal studies. But, it turns out, that's not necessarily because it benefits the pancreas. Instead, scientists have made an unexpected discovery: resveratrol's anti-diabetic properties appear to be mediated through the brain.

That's the conclusion of a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, that was just published in Endocrinology, a journal of The Endocrine Society. The researchers focused on sirtuins, a class of proteins activated by resveratrol that are thought to underlie many of the potential beneficial effects of calorie restriction, including promoting longevity and slowing down the aging process.

Early studies in mice have produced important evidence showing that when resveratrol activates sirtuins, diabetes is improved. While sirtuins are expressed virtually all over the body, until now researchers have remained in the dark about what tissues could be mediating resveratrol's beneficial effects on the disease.

"We know that sirtuins are expressed in parts of the brain known to govern glucose metabolism, so we hypothesized that the brain could be mediating resveratrol's anti-diabetic actions," said Roberto Coppari, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and co-author of the study, in a statement to the media. "To test the hypothesis, we assessed the metabolic consequences of delivering resveratrol directly into the brain of diabetic mice. We found that resveratrol did activate sirtuins in the brain of these mice which resulted in improving their high levels of blood sugar and insulin. These findings may lead to new strategies in the fight against type 2 diabetes."

Dr. Coppari and his research team found that long-term infusion of resveratrol into the brains of diet-induced obese and diabetic mice normalized the animals' hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and greatly improved the rodents' hyperinsulinemia (excess levels of circulating insulin in the blood). The scientists noted in their research paper that these beneficial effects were independent of changes in the lab animals' body weight, food intake, and circulating levels of leptin (a hormone that helps regulate appetite and metabolism).

As NaturalNews reporters have covered extensively, resveratrol -- which is found in red wine, red grapes and grape juice -- has been found to promote health in a remarkable number of ways. In addition to preventing heart disease, it can help maintain a healthy weight, keep cholesterol in balance and even support increased longevity (http://www.naturalnews.com/026830_resveratro...). It may also prevent and reverse fatty liver disease (http://www.naturalnews.com/026274_resveratro...).

Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present the Endocrinology study findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.

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