Issue 33 July 2011
5. A Strawberry a day keeps the Diabetologist away.

      A new study suggests that a strawberry a day (or precisely, 37 of them) could keep not just one doctor away, a group of them, including the neurologist, the endocrinologist, and maybe even the oncologist.

      Fisetin, a naturally-occurring flavonoid found in plenty in strawberries reduces complications of diabetes. Earlier, the lab showed that fisetin promoted survival of neurons grown in culture and enhanced memory in healthy mice.

      Pam Maher, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist in the Salk Institute's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory (CNL) and colleagues reasoned that, like other flavonoids, fisetin might ameliorate a spectrum of disorders seen in diabetic patients. To test this, they evaluated effects of fisetin supplementation in Akita mice, a very robust model of type 1 diabetes, also called childhood onset diabetes.

      Mice fed a fisetin-enriched diet remained diabetic, but acute kidney enlargement-or hypertrophy-seen in untreated mice was reversed, and high urine protein levels, a sure sign of kidney disease, fell. Moreover, fisetin ingestion lessened anxiety-related behaviors seen in diabetic mice. "Most mice put in a large area become exploratory," says Maher. "But anxious mice tend not to move around. Akita mice showed enhanced anxiety behavior, but fisetin feeding restored their locomotion to more normal levels."

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