Type 2 diabetes: Include this exotic fruit in your diet to lower blood sugar levels
Type 2 diabetes means a person’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate rising blood sugar levels, and, if left untreated, rising blood sugar levels can cause deadly health complications, such as heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, people can make changes to their diet to compensate for the lack of insulin and keep blood sugar levels in check. According to the NHS, there’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
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As a general rule, to keep blood sugar levels in check, people should eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta, says the health site.
One fruit that has been linked to lower blood sugar levels is bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or Momordica charantia.
It is a tropical vine cultivated around the world for its edible fruit, which is considered a staple in many types of Asian cuisine.
In addition to being a food ingredient, bitter melon has also long been used as a herbal remedy for a range of conditions, including type 2 diabetes.
According to Diabetes.co.uk: The fruit contains at least three active substances with anti-diabetic properties, including charanti, which has been confirmed to have a blood glucose-lowering effect, vicine and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p.”
As the health body explains, these substances either work individually or together to help reduce blood sugar levels.
The health site added: “It is also known that bitter melon contains a lectin that reduces blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing appetite – similar to the effects of insulin in the brain.”
Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to sugar, and, by suppressing appetite, can stop people with type 2 diabetes eating more, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise.
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A number of clinical studies point to the blood-sugar lowering effect of bitter melon, including a four-week clinical trial published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which showed that a 2,000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced blood glucose levels among patients with type 2 diabetes.
Other studies echo this finding, suggesting an association between bitter melon intake and improved glycemic control, a medical term for blood sugar management.
In addition, a report published in an issue of Chemistry and Biology found that bitter melon increased cellular uptake of glucose and improved glucose tolerance.
As Diabetes.co.uk explains, bitter melon can be taken in several forms; it can be eaten as a fruit, made into juice, the seeds can be added to food in a powdered form, or it can be used in the form of a decoction by boiling pieces of the melon in water.
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Bitter melons are also low in carbohydrates and a low-carb diet has gained popularity over the years for its ability to manage blood sugar levels and helping people with type 2 diabetes keep health risks at bay.
As Diabetes.co.uk explains, while carbohydrates can help to fuel the body, they are broken down into glucose, so when carbohydrates are consumed, an increase in blood sugar levels occurs to a greater or lesser extent according to the amount of carbohydrate.
In addition, the lower your carbohydrate intake, the more likely you are to lose weight – a key aspect of blood sugar management.
According to the health site, a healthy low carb diet should have the following features:
- Strong vegetable intake
- Modest increase in fat intake from natural sources
- Moderate protein intake
- Low reliance upon processed food, sugar and grains
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
As the NHS explains, many people have type 2 diabetes without realising because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
You should consult your GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting it, advises the health body.
It added: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems.”
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