Tropical fruit holds key to helping sweet-toothed diabetics

By Chris Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Food, Carbohydrate

A compound that occurs naturally in fruit could hold the key to
allowing diabetics to share the same sugary treats as the rest of
the nation.

Researchers Daryl Thompson and Joseph Aherns of ATM Metabolics, a Florida-based research firm specializing in treatments for metabolic and neurological disorder, have discovered a "sugar defense mechanism" that already exists in tropical fruits and vegetables that they believe will make sugary foods safe for humans. Not only that, they believe they have discovered a way to utilize that compound in foods such as cola, candies and cookies - products that are usually off limits to most diabetics. The compound, which they named Simulin, is naturally derived from tropical plants and vegetables and they claim it can be used to protect the body from the negative impact of sugar in the blood stream, ultimately helping to reduce the onset of diabetes and insulin resistance. Thompson told​ that Simulin has several different properties. "It reduces the glycemic impact of foods by reducing the amount of carbohydrates absorbed after meals and the amount of glucose manufactured by the liver. It also accelerates the removal of excess sugar from the bloodstream, mobilizes carbohydrates from the fat cells and increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors in the signaling pathways making insulin more efficient."​ But the scientist is quick to point out that the compound is not a sweetener or a sugar alternative but "a sugar defense mechanism that can be added to any sugar-laden manufactured food and which will then work to protect the body from the glycemic impact of that food without altering the taste".​ According to Thompson, the thinking is that certain plants, especially those that grow in the sunnier climes near the equator - although he did not specify which fruit in particular - produced this compound to ensure that people or animals eating the fruit did not become diabetic. "Fruit plants depend on their fruits being eaten to spread, so it makes sense that they would do everything they could to keep their fruit on the menu,"​ he said. "This could be why humans didn't become diabetic despite eating so much sugar in fruit and vegetables." "But over the last 100 years we have started to eat more refined sugar and we've seen a resultant increase in diabetes, suggesting that we still need this defense mechanism." ​ Thompson said that an independent study of the effects of Simulin - on both rats and humans - carried out by Eurofins Product Safety Laboratories, would be completed Friday, and that a second set of tests, by French lab Optimed, would also be concluded soon. But he stressed that product, which he believes could be marketed as "natural", would not need approval from the Food and Drug Administration. "I don't believe this product would need approval, and it could easily be called GRAS [Generally Recognized as Safe],"​ Thompson told this website. "I think of it like the addition of folate to flour to tackle neural tube defects. Folate was there right in front of us, and we just needed to make the connection that it could help tackle these problems. It's the same with these fruit compounds - they occur naturally already, its just a question of finding a way to add them to sugar." ​ Thompson said that the scientists had looked at a variety of these compounds and discovered the ones that were the most resistant to heat - and thus suitable for use in food products that need to be cooked. "Several of the compounds broke down under ultra-violet light, but we've found some that are very heat resistant, up to 350 degrees Centigrade." ​ He said that Simulin was also capable of being added to simple table sugar, effectively "turning diabetics' worst enemy into their best friend".​ Although Simulin is not yet on the market, the scientists are convinced it will be popular with food companies. "We've had a good response from the food industry, and we think consumers will accept it because it is natural. They are scared of things that are engineered, but in this case Mother Nature has already done the work."

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