Sea cucumbers: Meet the surprising superfood that fights diabetes

ADELAIDE, Australia — The humble sea cucumber, a popular marine delicacy in Asia, is not only delicious but also holds the key to preventing diabetes, according to researchers from the University of South Australia. Scientists delved into the medicinal properties of sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra) and discovered that processed dried sea cucumber with salt extracts can effectively inhibit the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) – compounds associated with an increased risk of diabetes.

AGEs are formed when proteins and fats combine with sugars in the bloodstream. High levels of AGEs can lead to severe diabetic complications, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, and even cancer.

Dr. Permal Deo, the lead researcher from UniSA, says that understanding how the bioactive compounds in sea cucumbers can prevent AGEs is crucial in protecting against these diseases.

The bioactive compounds in sea cucumbers could protect against Type 2 Diabetes.
(Credit: “Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra)” by wildsingapore is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

“We know that an accumulation of AGEs is associated with complications of Type 2 diabetes, so strategies to prevent this may reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications,” Dr. Deo explains in a university release. “Biologically active novel compounds in medicinal plants and foods are potential therapeutic agents to prevent diabetic complications. 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.”

The research team discovered that processed dried sea cucumber with salt extracts, combined with collagen, significantly inhibits the formation of AGEs by reducing a range of sugar-related metabolites in the body. This breakthrough provides promising evidence for the potential of sea cucumbers in lowering the risk of developing diabetes.

The findings pave the way for the development of new therapeutic agents to combat diabetic complications, as no commercially available treatment currently targets AGE formation.

“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,” Dr. Deo says.

The research on sea cucumbers highlights the immense potential of nature’s wonders in providing innovative solutions to combat diseases like diabetes. By unlocking the secrets hidden in these marine creatures, scientists are paving the way for groundbreaking advancements in diabetes prevention and treatment.

The next steps for the research team involve further investigations into the bioactive compounds present in sea cucumbers and their potential to combat AGEs. These studies hold promise for new therapies and interventions to promote healthier lives and reduce the impact of diabetic complications.

The study by the University of South Australia team sheds light on the remarkable benefits of sea cucumbers, showcasing their potential as a natural remedy for diabetes prevention. By harnessing the power of these ocean dwellers, scientists are opening doors to a healthier future for individuals at risk of developing diabetes and its associated complications.

The study is published in the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

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