Sea cucumber—an exotic marine delicacy popular in Asian countries—can prevent diabetes, according to a study by the University of South Australia (UniSA) in collaboration with Fiji National University and the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Examining the medicinal properties of sea cucumbers, the researchers discovered that a dried version of the delicacy combined with salt extracts can suppress a compound associated with an increased risk of diabetes, thus lowering the risk of the disease.
To date, there has been no commercially available therapy to stop this compound, called Advanced Glycation End product (AGE).
AGEs are created when you combine high levels of sugar with a protein or fat in the bloodstream. It is a very sticky compound that clogs up the small blood vessels of the eyes, heart, brain and kidney.
When accumulated in high levels, they contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation, leading to diabetic complications such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, and cancer.
Novel compounds in medicinal plants and foods are potential therapies to prevent diabetic complications, lead researcher UniSA’s Permal Deo said, and sea cucumbers have bioactive compounds that can inhibit AGEs, protecting people against these diseases.
“Sea cucumbers are known to have a range of therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so we wanted to explore their bioactive compounds as AGE inhibitors,” Deo said.
“We found that processed dried sea cucumber with salt extracts and collagen can significantly inhibit AGEs by lowering a range of sugar-related metabolites in the body and reducing the risk of diabetes.
“These results provide sound evidence that sea cucumbers could be developed as a functional food product to help battle the onset of diabetes and diabetic complications,” Deo said.
Growing up to 40 centimetres (16 inches) and weighing up to 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds), tests have indicated sea cucumbers contain toxins and must be properly prepared before they are safe to eat.
Foods to Prevent Diabetes
Internationally, around 422 million people have diabetes, with 1.5 million deaths directly attributed to the disease per year.
However, lifestyle changes can delay or prevent almost 60 percent of all cases of type 2 diabetes, Diabetes Australia says.
Other foods that protect your cells from the damage of AGEs include those with vitamin C, such as citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables and vitamin B6, such as beef, turkey, tuna, salmon, tofu, and chickpeas.
Alpha lipoic acid (meat, carrots, spinach, broccoli) and phytonutrients (blueberries, whole grain products, legumes) are also helpful in preventing diabetes.
Can Diabetics Eat Honey?
Surprisingly, while being high in glucose and fructose, honey has some helpful effects for diabetics.
There is a long-standing misconception that diabetics can’t use honey in their diets because of the high amount of carbohydrates in their chemical makeup.
However, researchers from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Romania discovered that when compared to the consumption of dextrose and sucrose, honey caused people with diabetes to have lower levels of elevated blood sugar.
If diabetics want to eat honey, it is best to consume raw and unpasteurised honey. Pasteurised honey is akin to pure sugar, with potential health-boosting properties cooked away.