Buckwheat sugar shows anti-diabetic and potential prebiotic activity

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Blood glucose, Carbohydrate, Blood sugar

A sugar extracted from buckwheat called D-fagomine may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and displays potential prebiotic activity at small doses, according to new research.

The sugar was associated with a blunting of the blood sugar spike when ingested with sucrose or starch, without stimulating the secretion of insulin, report Spanish scientists in the British Journal of Nutrition​.

In addition, data from animal studies revealed a reduction in levels of potentially pathogenic bacteria in the gut, as well as a promotion of potentially beneficial Lactobacilli.

“Based on all this evidence,” ​wrote the scientists, “d-fagomine may be used as a dietary ingredient or functional food component to reduce the health risks associated with an excessive intake of fast-digestible carbohydrates, or an excess of potentially pathogenic bacteria”​.

Commercial development

The ingredient is being developed by Barcelona-based Bioglane, a spin-off from the Spanish Research Council (CSIC). Bioglane funded the new study.

The company has reportedly developed enzymatic, large scale processes to competitively produce natural iminosugars and other unusual sugars.

To date, the company has focused on D-fagomine and has scaled up the industrial production of this active under FDA-GMP.

According to Bioglane, D-fagomine is a natural iminosugar present in buckwheat grain and buckwheat based traditional foods. It was first isolated in 1974 and may be considered as a simple glucose analog.

Study details

For the new study, the researchers fed lab rats a combination of D-fagomine with either sucrose or starch. Results showed that the iminosugar was associated with a reduction in blood glucose in a dose-dependent manner. At a dose of 1 to 2 milligrams per kg of body weight in combination with 1 gram of sucrose, the researchers measured a 20% reduction in blood glucose levels.

In addition, the maximum blood glucose level took longer to appear.

The insulin levels decreased in accordance with the decrease in blood glucose, added the researchers.

Prebiotic potential?

“We also disclose here an activity of D-fagomine that had never been suggested before: the modulation of bacterial adhesion. We observed that D-fagomine selectively agglutinated potentially deleterious ​Enterobacteriaceae and prevented their adhesion to pig intestinal mucosa,”​ wrote the researchers.

“The adhesion of ​Lactobacillus spp. was promoted by D-fagomine while that of ​Bifidobacterium spp. was not affected.”

“As the intestinal microbiota clearly influences the physiological status of the gut and even the health of the whole organism, further studies will determine whether this activity of D-fagomine results in long-term effects related to the reduction of health risk factors,”​ they added.

Who’s who

The researchers were affiliated with Bioglane, Institut de Quimica Avancada de Catalunya, CSIC, the Universitat de Barcelona, the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and the Barcelona Science Park.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, FirstView Articles​, doi: 10.1017/S0007114511005009
“d-Fagomine lowers postprandial blood glucose and modulates bacterial adhesion”
Authors: L. Gomez, E. Molinar-Toribio, M. Angeles Calvo-Torras, C. Adelantado, M.E. Juan, J.M. Planas, X. Canas, C. Lozano, S. Pumarola, P. Clapés, J.L. Torres

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