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Research Highlights

NIH researchers find resveratrol helps protect against diabetes in animal study

Resveratrol, a compound in nuts, grapes, and wine, has been previously found to slow age-related health decline in mice on a standard diet and improve health and longevity of overweight, aged mice on a high fat diet. In a new study of non-human primates, researchers have found that resveratrol counters some of the negative effects of a high fat/high sugar diet on the pancreas, protecting these primates from developing diabetes.

A healthy pancreas responds to an increase in blood sugar (after a meal, for instance) by activating β-cells in the part of pancreas called the islets.  These β-cells produce, store and release insulin helping to break down the sugar and restore the blood to normal levels. A long-term high fat/high sugar diet can cause diabetes, a condition in which the body cannot regulate its blood sugar.

Rhesus monkeys were fed either a standard diet, a high fat diet/high sugar diet with a placebo, or a high fat/high sugar diet with resveratrol for 24 months. Researchers found that the islets of monkeys on a high fat/high sugar diet supplemented with resveratrol were similar to those of monkeys on a standard diet. The compound also helped to maintain the β-cell numbers and function in these monkeys, compared to those on a high fat/high sugar diet without resveratrol. Researchers suggest that their findings may have future implications for treatments for people with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and diabetes.

Reference: Fiori JL, et al. Resveratrol Prevents β–cell Dedifferentiation in Non-Human Primates Given a High Fat/High Sugar Diet. Diabetes. Published online July 24, 2013; doi: 10.2337/db13-0266

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