Fisetin aids in weight loss and decreases diabetes and obesity risk

Aside from reversing aging and improving longevity, fisetin can also help in losing weight and lowering your risk of diabetes and obesity. Several studies suggest that fisetin is a powerful and effective substance in helping to regulate the body’s weight and prevent diabetes. 

Fisetin is basically a plant polyphenol and a bioactive flavonoid, which is a wide category of compounds that mainly helps plants by providing vibrant hues and supporting health with antioxidant activity. It can be found in fruits and vegetables, primarily in apples, grapes, persimmon, strawberries, onions and cucumber [1]. So, how can this flavonoid help with weight loss, diabetes and obesity?

Fisetin in aiding weight loss 

Gaining weight is not something new to all of us. There are times our body’s weight may increase and sometimes decrease based on our consumed meals, activities or medical conditions. Your metabolism also plays a vital role in gaining or losing weight. Metabolism refers to how your body converts food into usable energy. It is a process by which calories from the foods and drinks you consume mix with oxygen to make the energy that your body needs to function. If your metabolism is slow, your body will burn fewer calories even during activity; hence, you may become overweight. 

Fisetin in aiding weight loss
Photograph: Microgen/Shutterstock

Surprisingly, fisetin is found to be helpful in weight loss by enhancing your body’s metabolism. In a clinical study, it was found that fisetin can act as a kind of metabolism control switch. Fisetin can aid in decreasing fat cell accumulation and preventing the activation of the protein mTOR that is linked to weight gain [2].

The study was conducted in mice that were fed a high-fat diet for a specific timeline. In the end, the results showed that fisetin prevented the increase in body weight and the build-up of harmful white fat tissue on them. Moreover, fisetin can also aid in fighting fat accumulation in their livers. This is a promising result because, normally, your liver may accumulate fats from consistent high-fat diets. It is a common occurrence with a metabolic disease that can affect your liver function and leave you with fatty liver disease.

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Fisetin in decreasing obesity risk

Of course, when you neglect your gained weight and consistently consume a high-fat diet with little to no physical activities, you are risking yourself to obesity. As we all know, obesity is an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that puts you at high risk of major health problems, such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is calculated based on body mass index (BMI). 

The good news is fisetin is shown to have anti-obesity properties, which can help you further regulate your weight. Generally, bioactives that can be found in natural food sources can be used as potent therapeutics for decreasing obesity. Scientists have used C elegans [3], which refers to a small but powerful model for obesity research, to identify the effects of fisetin on lipid metabolism. 

It was found that fisetin helps in preventing diet-induced obesity by regulating the signals of the mammalian targets of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a central mediator of cellular growth, cellular proliferation and lipid biosynthesis. Fisetin simply contains a useful phytochemical agent for attenuating diet-induced obesity [4].

Fisetin in decreasing the risk of diabetes 

Furthermore, obesity can lead to diabetes. Scientifically, diabetes is characterised by a proinflammatory state and several inflammatory processes that can be linked to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the resulting complications. 

Moreover, diabetes can start from a casual spike in your blood sugar, whether from consuming food, lifestyle choices or a genetic cause. When you have frequent high blood sugar, this blood sugar instability can negatively affect your pancreas. Your pancreas may become unable to produce insulin to dispose of blood sugar, and when this happens, you become insulin resistant. Becoming insulin resistant can lead to fatal health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and, most significantly, type 2 diabetes [5].

Fisetin in decreasing the risk of diabetes 

As mentioned, fisetin is a flavonoid that is under its flavonol subclass. Normally, flavonoids–including flavones, flavonols, flavanones, isoflavones and anthocyanidins–have been the forefront ingredients in supplements related to the management and prevention of diabetes and its long-term complications. And here’s a list of why. 

  • Stabilise blood sugar – At the top of the list is fisetin’s ability to effectively help in stabilising blood sugar. In a study made on rodents, fisetin showed a promising function in regulating blood sugar and aiding in preventing insulin resistance. Three relevant studies have also backed this up in three different ways.

    In a study made in 2011, scientists found that fisetin’s antioxidant properties can enhance enzymes that help in digesting carbohydrates. With this enhancement function, it can reduce blood sugar and demand for insulin. 

The next study was conducted in 2013 through rodents. It concluded that the oral administration of fisetin could significantly protect liver cells from the damage caused by diabetes. Additionally, the findings suggest that the plant compound has the potential to mitigate the downstream effects of insulin resistance and other related diseases [6]. 

A year after, a new study was conducted in 2014 where the researchers claimed that fisetin has the potential to address high blood sugar for those suffering from diabetes. In this clinical study in mice, fisetin appears to block the inflammatory response, preventing damage to blood vessels and tissues. 

  • Prevent diabetes – Fisetin is a flavonoid dietary ingredient that can be found in the smoke tree called Cotinus coggygria. It is also known to exert anti-inflammatory effects via inhibition of the NF-B signalling pathway. 

With this distinct function, scientists concluded that fisetin could inhibit HG-induced cytokine production in monocytes through epigenetic changes involving NF-B. In layman’s terms, it proposes that fisetin supplementation can be a good factor in diabetes prevention.

  • Reduced diabetic complications – The key to living with diabetes is to properly control its complications. Poorly controlled diabetes may cause life-threatening consequences. Fisetin can also aid in regulating diabetic complications. 

An animal study suggests that fisetin can reduce the severity of diabetic complications. Some of these complications are the progression of cataracts, kidney damage and poor kidney function, and fisetin is said to help improve them.

Furthermore, diabetic nephropathy (DN) is another complication of diabetes that fisetin can aid with. The study on mice revealed that fisetin alleviated high glucose-induced podocyte injury and STZ-induced DN by restoring the autophagy-mediated pathway and inhibiting inflammasome. 

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Moreover, a study was conducted where the scientists gave fisetin to diabetic rats for 30 days. The findings show that there is a significant decline in blood glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin levels and a significant increase in plasma insulin levels. In short, fisetin can improve glucose homeostasis by direct inhibition of gluconeogenesis in the liver [7].

Fisetin may also restore the blood sugar levels of diabetics. In a study made on diabetic rats and mice, the researchers concluded that fisetin improved the ability to control blood sugar by increasing insulin levels and enzymes that turn sugar into energy; removing sugar from the blood; and decreasing the liver’s ability to make unnecessary sugar from lactate and amino acids. 

Surprisingly, all clinical studies about fisetin conducted in animals have not yet determined the recommended dosage of taking fisetin, as clinical trials in humans are not yet fully established. However, generally, the average daily intake of fisetin from food sources can be estimated to be only 0.4 mg, but most supplements contain much more than this [8]. 

Additionally, you can safely take smaller doses of around 100 to 500 mg of fisetin per day, while higher doses of fisetin, typically about 1000 mg or more, are recommended to be taken at least a couple of days in a month. Just take note that more clinical data and studies in humans still need to be established before we can settle with a much more comprehensive recommended dose and timing of taking fisetin. 

Fisetin’s recommended dosage and food sources

For the food sources rich in fisetin, you can opt for strawberries, as they have over 160 grams of fisetin. Next are apples with 27 grams and persimmons with 11 grams. Fisetin can also be found in onions with 5 grams, while grapes have 4 grams and kiwi with 2 grams. 

Some other sources of this dietary flavonoid are mangoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, nuts and wine that has shown strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumorigenic, anti-invasive, anti-angiogenic, anti-diabetic, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective effects in cell culture and in animal models relevant to human diseases.

Generally, fisetin is poorly absorbed by the body. Studies have shown that taking fisetin with fats may increase its bioavailability. This is why many supplement manufacturers need to add certain oils to their supplement formulations. Hence, many people still choose to take fisetin supplements rather than naturally consuming fisetin through foods. 

The bottom line

Fisetin can help in aiding weight loss and obesity before it becomes fatal, leading to type II diabetes. Moreover, fisetin can also provide benefits for those already suffering from type II diabetes. Although fisetin can aid in these three crucial aspects of your overall health, having a nutritious diet, regular physical exercise and wise lifestyle choices are much more impactful for your wellness. 

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Photograph: TanyaKim/Shutterstock
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