6. Fruit compounds to treat obesity, type 2 diabetes, and CVD

In the journal ‘Diabetes’, researchers under Prof. Thornalley at the University of Warwick, U.K revealed that a combination of compounds derived from red grapes and oranges could offer a promising treatment for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The compounds used by the team are trans-resveratrol (tRES) – found in red grapes, and hesperetin (HESP) – found in oranges. On testing a combination of the compounds in cell culture, the researchers found that it increased expression of glyoxalase 1 (Glo1) - an enzyme that neutralizes a compound called methylglyoxal (MG).

The team explains that MG is a key driver of sugar's harmful effects on the body; a combination of high MG levels and a high-calorie diet is a cause of insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. It also damages blood vessels and can drive highcholesterol levels - a risk factor for CVD.As such, the team hypothesizes that blocking MG by increasing Glo1 expression could reverse these effects. Next, the team tested the tRES-HESP combination on 32 adults aged 18-80 who had a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 40, falling into the overweight or obese categories.

Participants were given the fruit compound combination in the form of a supplement, which they were asked to take once a day for 8 weeks.During the study period, subjects were asked to continue with their usual diets and not to increase physical activity, enabling the researchers to gain a more accurate picture of the supplements' effects.

The researchers found that participants who had a BMI of more than 27.5 demonstrated increased Glo1 activity with the daily supplement, as well as reduced insulin levels, improved insulin activity, better artery function, and reduced blood vessel inflammation. Subjects who were given a placebo showed no such effects. Prof. Thornalley and his team point out that the doses of tRES and HESP used in this study are too high to get from fruit consumption. Professor Thornalley added: “This is an incredibly exciting development and could have a massive impact on our ability to treat these diseases. As well as helping to treat diabetes and heart disease it could defuse the obesity time bomb.”

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