Sept 1, 2012 by MARCO TORRES
How Turmeric Has An Anti-Diabetic Effect On The Body
Extracts from turmeric may help manage blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes, suggest data from a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial from China.
Daily supplements of curcuminoids for three months was associated with improved glycemic control in 50 type-2 diabetics, compared to placebo, according to findings published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research .
The potential benefits of the curcuminoids is linked to a reduction in levels of free fatty acids (FFAs), said researchers Harbin Medical University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
FFAs are reported to play a key role in the development of insulin resistance, and therefore decreasing levels of FFAs could help reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
"This is the first study to show that curcuminoids may have an anti-diabetic effect by decreasing serum fatty acid possibly through the promotion of fatty acid oxidation and utilization," wrote researchers from Harbin Medical University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Curcumin, the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow color, has increasingly come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with studies investigating its potential health benefits.
As a result, curcumin has been linked to a range of health benefits, including potential protection against prostate cancer, Alzheimerâ€™s, protection against heart failure, diabetes, and arthritis.
Adding curcumin to human cells with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and his colleagues found, stopped the cells from replicating. And the cells that were left died.
One of the most comprehensive summaries of a review of 700 turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd. He showed that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects.
For the new study, the Chinese researchers used curcuminoids from of turmeric (Curcuma Longa L., Zingiberaceae, from Hebei Food Additive Co., Hebei, China) with a purity of 97.5%. The composition was 36% curcumin, 19% demethoxycurcumin, and 43% bisdemethoxycurcumin.
One hundred overweight/ obese type-2 diabetics were randomly assigned to receive either 300 mg per day of curcuminoids or placebo for three months.
Results showed that the curcuminoid group displayed a significant decrease in blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1C (a marker of the long-term presence of excess glucose in the blood), and insulin resistance, compared to placebo.
There was also a significant reduction in free fatty acids in the curcuminoid group, said the researchers.
"The dose of curcuminoids administered in our study cannot easily be achieved by simply incorporating more spice into meals. In addition, incorporating more curcuminoids will change the appearance and taste of food, and some people may not like the color or taste of curcuminoids.
"Therefore, we suggest that it is better to take curcuminoids as a supplement," wrote the researchers.
The study adds to a growing number of studies looking for natural products to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
With the number of people are affected by diabetes in the EU 25 projected to increase to 26 million by 2030, up from about 19 million currently -- or 4 per cent of the total population --approaches to reduce the risk of diabetes are becoming increasing attractive.
The statistics are even more startling in the US, where almost 24 million people live with diabetes, equal to 8 per cent of the population. The total costs are thought to be as much as $174 billion, with $116 billion being direct costs from medication, according to 2005-2007 American Diabetes Association figures.
Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.