The world continues to reel from the growing epidemic that is diabetes. Although the disease is being controlled with the aid of chemical medications, these drugs are not without side effects, prompting researchers to look into natural yet effective alternatives. A study investigated the efficacy of Helicteres angustifolia, a plant popularly used in Chinese medicine, in treating insulin resistance, one of the causes of Type 2 diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 29 million people have diabetes in the U.S. alone. About one in four of these individuals don't even know they have the disease. Close to 90 million have prediabetes, a stage marked by elevated blood sugar levels and a significant risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which is characterized by the inability to produce sufficient insulin, if at all, Type 2 diabetes happens because the body does not respond to insulin well. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that causes the cells of the body to absorb glucose from food and lower the concentration of sugar in the blood.
People with Type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance. This happens when the body's cells do not respond as well as they normally do to insulin, impairing their ability to absorb glucose. As a result, the pancreas has to produce more and more insulin just to normalize blood sugar levels. Reversing insulin resistance and enhancing the cells' glucose uptake are among the ways by which experts believe Type 2 diabetes can best be addressed.
The study was published in Pharmaceutical Biology.
They treated three types of cells with different concentrations of H. angustifolia ethanol extract. A diabetic mouse model was used to determine the extract's effects in vivo. According to the researchers' analysis, the treatment successfully enhanced the glucose uptake of all the cells tested. In mice, the treatment lowered the animals' blood glucose levels, among other biomarkers, while increasing the levels of proteins and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Because of these findings, the researchers concluded that H. angustifolia root ethanol extract has powerful antidiabetic activity.
Changing your diet – The best diet for people with Type 2 diabetes is one that does not have a lot of simple and refined sugars. These foods cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels and are dangerous in the long run. Whole grains and fiber-rich foods, as well as those that contain complex carbs, are either low in sugar or are not digested fast, so they do not have much impact on blood sugar. An effective way to determine the effect a specific food has on blood glucose levels is to find its glycemic score. The glycemic index ranks food based on how they affect glucose levels, with lower ranked foods having less of an impact than higher ranked ones. As a rule, people with diabetes are recommended to eat foods with a glycemic score of 55 and below.
Exercise – Regular physical activity has multiple benefits for people with diabetes. It reduces insulin resistance and enables the body to use up the glucose it takes in. Exercise also trains and strengthens the heart, one of the vital organs that are most at risk from the complications of diabetes. Together with proper diet, exercise helps treat obesity, which hastens the progress of diabetes and increases the risk of developing the disease in those who don't have it.
De-stress – Stress is a risk factor in many diseases, including diabetes. Unfortunately, stress is an inevitable part of life. What people with diabetes can do besides proactively taking steps to avoid stress is to engage in relaxing activities, such as exercising and performing yoga and tai chi.
Drink water – Dehydration is terrible for the body. Studies have linked regular hydration with more efficient blood sugar control, so do drink water when needed.