Citrus Flavonoids Vs. Diabetes
Researchers in China, Brazil and Nepal teamed up to put together a review of studies that looked at the relationship between phytochemicals in citrus flavonoids and diabetes. Their paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients in September 2020.
Modern medicine already acknowledges the important role that plant-based nutrition has on managing and, most of all, preventing chronic diseases like heart conditions and diabetes. Most research accepts the premise that flavonoids, which are the primary bioactive compounds in citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit, are responsible for that effect.
The Flavonoid Connection
Flavonoids, as the name implies, are the compounds responsible for the distinctive flavors of fruits and vegetables, as well as their colors. It’s what makes lemons yellow and tart, and oranges sweet and bright orange in color.
The review looked at both in vitro (test tube) and in vivo (living subject) studies, including 38 studies completed since 2010. They identified a total of 19 citrus flavonoids that have potential in anti-diabetic treatment:
• tangeretin, and
Preventing And Treating Diabetes
Beyond identifying which phytochemicals were at work, the researchers looked at the mechanisms involved – specifically, how did the flavonoids act to prevent and mitigate diabetes? The research pointed at several routes:
• helping to regulate blood sugar levels,
• helping to balance lipid (fat) profiles in the blood,
• supporting renal (kidney) function,
• aiding the function of enzymes in the liver,
• antioxidant enzymes that protect against cellular damage, and
• helping to modulate the processes that regulate glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity.
Researchers believe that citrus flavonoids can be useful in treating diabetes mellitus through various actions that inhibit specific destructive processes, including:
• cellular oxidative stress,
• inflammatory markers (interleukin (IL) -1beta, IL-6,
• tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha).
“Citrus flavonoids target several molecular markers that are involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels.”
In the end, the paper’s authors indicate that more research is needed in order to act on the information via developing drug deliveries for therapy.
“In the future, more detailed research is still required into these compounds, along with the development of various drug delivery vehicles that facilitate their controlled release and increase their
absorption, bioavailability, and potency.”
But, in the meantime, it’s clearer than ever that a healthy diet includes lemons, oranges, and other nutrition-packed citrus fruits.