Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is characterised by hyperglycaemia resulting from defective insulin secretion, insulin resistance, or both. The impact of over-nutrition and reduced physical activity, evidenced by the exponential rise in obesity and the prevalence of T2D, strongly supports the implementation of lifestyle modification programs. Accordingly, an increased consumption of fruits and plant-derived foods has been advocated, as their intake is inversely correlated with T2D prevalence; this has been attributed, in part, to their contained polyphenolic compounds. Over the last decade, a body of work has focussed on establishing the mechanisms by which polyphenolic compounds exert beneficial effects to limit carbohydrate digestion, enhance insulin-mediated glucose uptake, down-regulate hepatic gluconeogenesis and decrease oxidative stress; the latter anti-oxidative property being the most documented. Novel effects on the inhibition of glucocorticoid action and the suppression of amylin misfolding and aggregation have been identified more recently. Amyloid fibrils form from spontaneously misfolded amylin, depositing in islet cells to elicit apoptosis, beta cell degeneration and decrease insulin secretion, with amyloidosis affecting up to 80% of pancreatic islet cells in T2D. Therefore, intervening with polyphenolic compounds offers a novel approach to suppressing risk or progression to T2D. This review gives an update on the emerging mechanisms related to dietary polyphenol intake for the maintenance of glycaemic control and the prevention of T2D.
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