The diabetes in adulthood, also known as type 2 diabetes mellitus or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is a widespread disease in modern society, the result of an incorrect lifestyle both in terms of excessive sedentary lifestyle and for the wrong diets that lead more and more people to eat foods rich in sugar that the body cannot dispose of. For some years now, the World Health Organization has raised the alarm by emphasizing the growing number of people potentially predisposed to getting sick from diabetes and trying to raise public awareness to introduce healthier and more balanced lifestyles, focusing above all on the new generations.
What the Diabetes is?
From a medical point of view, diabetes is a chronic condition that causes an excessive accumulation of sugar in the blood. This happens because some glands in the pancreas produce an incorrect amount of a hormone, insulin, which is responsible for the glucose metabolism in the body. The sugars that are taken through food, whether complex (amides) or simple, are used by the cells as an energy source for normal activities, but to do so they need insulin which has the function of regulating glucose levels in the blood and reduce blood sugar by activating different metabolic processes. If an error occurs in the production of this hormone or the cells are unable to recognize it, the concentration of glucose in the blood increases dangerously.
What are the different forms of diabetes?
There are various forms of diabetes: the type 1, also called juvenile, which is manifested in children and depends on a lack of insulin production due to the destruction of the cells responsible for its production by the immune system. Naturally it follows that the subject must take insulin from the outside and the subjects who are suffering from it have particular symptoms, such as a rapid weight loss, tendency to urinate very frequently and constant stimulus to drink and to eat. Type 2 diabetes, called mellitus, is the most widespread among the world population and occurs in adulthood (generally after 40 years) in predisposed subjects who show an evident overweight. In this case, insulin is produced but the cells are unable to use it and sugar accumulates in the blood. Unfortunately this form of diabetes is often not accompanied by obvious symptoms and, therefore, it is identified in a late way. The effects of a high concentration of glucose in the blood are devastating on the whole organism, starting from the sight up to even reaching a high difficulty in healing wounds. There is also a third type of diabetes, the gestational type, which affects pregnant women but is generally transitory and tends to disappear after childbirth. Currently, more and more awareness campaigns are being organized to stimulate the population to periodically check their blood sugar level. It is important to know that the fasting concentration should never exceed 100 mg/dl nor fall below 60 mg/dl. Values between 140 and 200 mg/dl indicate, from a clinical point of view, the possibility of developing diabetes in the future.
Lower diabetes with diet
Like most diseases, diabetes can be prevented and combated thanks to proper nutrition as well as the intake of specific foods that have the function of lowering blood glucose levels. There are clearly foods whose consumption should be very limited, such as sweets, pasta, candies, potatoes, elaborate dishes, fruit juices, highly sweetened carbonated beverages and any food containing an excessive amount of fat. Some foods, on the other hand, should never be lacking in the diet and are those with a low GI (glycemic index). We must, for example, use extra virgin olive oil as a condiment, favor spices to flavor dishes while reducing fat, never lacking legumes that give a sense of satiety and slow down the absorption of sugar, prefer flour and whole grains and, of course, eating vegetables. Instead, be careful not to overdo the fruit, although it should never be missing.
Which dietary supplements are useful against diabetes?
In type 2 diabetes mellitus natural supplements based on plants, herbs or spices can also be a useful aid. This is the case, for example, of cinnamon, which is able to regulate the concentration of cholesterol and glucose. Or of the curcuma, the avocado or the Moringa Oleifera, a superfood used for a long time in the tropical and subtropical areas but which is spreading also in the West for its exceptional therapeutic properties.
Moringa Oleifera and its role against diabetes
Since ancient times many populations have used Moringa to fight most of the diseases that affected the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the liver, the skin and the stomach and to prevent many others. The use of leaves, roots, fruits and pods also in the preparation of various local dishes, has always helped these populations in combating various disorders. Today, the different uses of Moringa extracts in the medical field are increasingly deepening. We have already mentioned some studies that show the correlation between the death of tumor cellsand the regular intake of Moringa, without considering that among its benefits are also included particular anti-inflammatory effects, inflammations that lead, then, to more serious pathologies such as, for example, diabetes. In fact, various studies have shown that it has an active function in the regulation of cholesterol and glucose, favoring cellular protection in diabetic subjects. In particular, Moringa contains chlorogenic acid, a substance that is used by the body to control its blood sugar levels, with positive effects also on liver and kidney function, often compromised by diabetes.
Studies on the correlation between Moringa and blood glucose levels
There are many studies conducted in various universities and international research centers that have as their object the study of the function of Moringa Oleifera on the regulation of blood glucose and, therefore, on the reduction of the devastating effects that diabetes entails at various levels of the body. Some of them were conducted on animals, others on groups of volunteers who took Moringa leaves in combination with other traditional medicines to treat this disease. We see below some of the results obtained which open the door to further investigations, especially as regards the effects that Moringa has on a series of concomitant pathologies.
Study 1: Discover the action of Moringa tea with metformin
The first research concerns a study conducted by Titilayo O Fakeye, of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, in agreement with other similar ones, and shows how Moringa has positive effects in combating type 2 diabetes mellitus. The patients were selected at the endocrinology department of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals complex, excluding however those who presented other concomitant diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or liver failure. In particular, this analysis was conducted on patients considered suitable, who were given an infusion of dried Moringa leaves twice a day for seven days. The function of this plant on the regulation of glucose levels in the blood is already known, so much so that it is taken by the sick as a regular natural supplement. However, what we wanted to investigate in more detail in this study is the concomitant action of Moringa tea with metformin, a drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM. The research was carried out taking as a reference the values of some exams both before that after treatment with metformin alone, in subjects aged between 49 and 77. At the end of the 7-day cycle blood samples were collected and the concentration of sugar in it was measured, both basal fasting that after 2 hours from the lunch. The study continued by inserting 400 g of dried leaves of Moringa, for a duration of 14 days of treatment (2 leaves per day), together with the normal quantities of metformin. The fifteenth day, after a night of complete fasting the analyzes were repeated, verifying a reduction, albeit slight, of blood glucose as evidence of the adjuvant effect of Moringa.
Study 2: Evaluate the effect of Moringa Oleifera on the regulation of glucose in the blood of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus
A further study was recently conducted at the Center for Traditional Applied Thai Medicine of the Siriraj Hospital Faculty of Medicine at the University of Mahidol in Salaya. The objective was to evaluate the effect of Moringa Oleifera on the regulation of glucose in the blood of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and, above all, to determine its safety. 32 patients of average age around 55 years were identified with HbA1C values equal to 7%. HbA1C, glycated hemoglobin, is a laboratory parameter to detect average blood glucose concentrations and thus control the presence of diabetes or the subject’s propensity to get sick. As widely highlighted, diabetes mellitus is a serious public health problem and this type of treatment can also be very expensive. For this reason, herbal supplements have long been used to achieve the goal, as an alternative or complementary way to normal care. In particular, Moringa Oleifera is a very well-known plant in Thailand and represents a widespread and essential component of the kitchen, especially for its seeds. In most of western Asia various parts of the tree are used and known for their remarkable pharmacological properties in the cardiovascular field, for laxative effects and for its use as an antibiotic and regulator of thyroid hormone. In this regard, studies conducted on laboratory rats have shown that the leaves of Moringa Oleifera have the effect of reducing the concentration of glucose in urine and plasma. Previous research from this University on ten healthy subjects has also shown that the administration of a Moringa leaf extract was able to increase insulin secretion without having negative effects on kidney and liver function.
Conclusions: integrating Moringa into a therapeutic diet lowers diabetes
As previously stated, diabetes is a chronic disease in which the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids is incorrectly regulated by insulin, causing hyperglycemia which is often associated with other serious diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, loss of vision and difficult to manage macro vascular and cardiovascular diseases. This is why properly treating diabetes also means reducing the risk of associated complications. However, the use of classic drugs often leads to unwanted side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and myocardial infarction. For this reason, scientific research is being directed towards the use of phytotherapic substances and Moringa is among these due to its many therapeutic properties already widely evaluated. The high content of vitamins, proteins, beta carotene, quercetin and zeatin with high nutritional and therapeutic potential present in the leaves, bark, flowers, roots and pods of Moringa make it a powerful antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and antispasmodic, particularly suitable as an adjunct to traditional therapies. Many of the studies conducted on animals and patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus have shown that glucose-lowering effects were more significant with the use of leaves and seed than with other parts of the plant. The positive effect of Moringa is also expressed through a slower assimilation of glucose by the intestine, significantly reducing the side effects of drugs. These studies therefore open the way to further investigations but also in this case they highlight the important role of Moringa in the care of our body.