Diabetes: Tales of bitter truth

Last Updated : 16 Nov 2011 11:38:49 AM IST

 

Over 50 million, India has the highest number of diabetics in the world.

According to a latest report by World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 80 per cent of deaths from diabetes-related complication occur in low and middle-income countries.Dr Rangesh Paramesh, Head Drug Discovery, The Himalaya Drug Company shares with us the benefits of karela (bitter gourd).There are currently two types of diabetes-Type I and Type II. Type I (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile diabetes) is an auto-immune disorder, in which the body is unable to produce insulin.In Type II (non-insulin dependent adult-onset Diabetes or NIDDM), the pancreas produces insulin but is insufficient for reducing the blood glucose levels to normal.Type I diabetes is not preventable and it is in no way the result of a person’s lifestyle. The onset of Type II diabetes in pre-diabetics, on the other hand, can be prevented with regular exercise, weight loss and a healthy diet.For diabetics, it is extremely important to keep better control of their blood sugar levels.Certain natural foods and herbs are helpful in this condition. Amongst them, bitter gourd is reported to be extremely beneficial. Also known as Bitter Melon, Karela is a tropical vegetable, widely available in the Indian subcontinent. It is cultivated and sold while the vegetable is still green or in the early yellowing stages.Bitter gourd is a popular vegetable in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka where it is eaten as a stir-fry with potatoes to offset the bitter flavor. As per doctrine of signature Bitter gourd is linked with the activity of pancreas (that secretes insulin) since it resembles in shape and contour of this organ of importance in diabetes.Lately, bitter gourd has come into the spotlight for its natural blood sugar-lowering properties.The vegetable has a host of chemical constituents that denote its hypoglycemic properties. The seeds contain ‘plantinsulin’ or peptides resembling insulin that also works like natural insulin secreted from the human pancreatic glands.Charantin and momordicin, two key compounds in bitter gourd, are also credited with anti-diabetic properties.The vegetable’s antioxidant agents help in reducing diabetic related complications by scavenging free radicals.

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