Diabetes is considered to be one of the most severe health problems in the 21st century. It is a chronic disease characterized by a carbohydrate metabolism disorder. The main risk factors for diabetes, especially type 2 are low physical activity and an incorrect diet.
The development of diabetes is associated with carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism disorders and increased blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia).
There are four types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes (autoimmune, idiopathic), type 2 diabetes (environmental, genetic), gestational diabetes, and other specific types of diabetes. Regardless of the type, untreated diabetes will promote pathological changes in organs, mainly in the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels. It is very important to know that diabetes is often a part of metabolic syndrome.
The most common form of diabetes is type 2. It develops slowly, and in most cases, is caused by being overweight. In this case, lifestyle change can be very effective, especially in the early stages of this disease. And to avoid the adverse consequences of uncontrolled diabetes, correct treatment should be introduced. The basis of diabetes therapy, in addition to medications, is a low glycemic index diet. This article focuses on plants that have beneficial effects in supporting diabetes treatment.
Diet is of great importance in supporting the treatment of diabetes. One should monitor the caloric content of the diet. If a person is overweight, they should introduce an energy deficit, meaning c. The main source of carbohydrates should be products with a low glycemic index. The proportion of vegetables and fruits in the diet should be increased, as they are a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidant ingredients. The diet should include at least 4 servings of vegetables. One should limit the consumption of red meat, animal fats, salt, sweets, and alcohol, and instead, drink a lot of water.
Currently, phytotherapy is mainly used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The possible mechanisms of herbs and the plant compounds they contain are:
– effect on increasing insulin secretion (from β cells of Langerhans islets),
– improvement of glucose tolerance by the body’s cells due to the influence on the receptors characteristic of insulin,
– slowing down the absorption of sugars in the digestive tract,
– increasing the synthesis of glycogen (sugar in the liver and muscles).
The main plant raw materials with a glucose stabilizing effect include:
– cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia),
– pericarp of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris),
– herb rutinus (Galega officinalis),
– couch grass rhizome (Agropyron repens),
– nettle leaf and root (Urticae dioica),
– ginkgo biloba leaf (Ginkgo biloba),
– white mulberry leaf (Morus alba),
– fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
– bilberry leaf (Vaccinium myrtillus).
These compounds reduce the absorption of glucose from the gastrointestinal tract, and thus reduce blood glucose levels.
Beans are a plant commonly used in the food industry. The combination of its culinary qualities with healing properties can form the basis of functional food intended for people with diabetes.
White mulberry contains flavonoids (rutin, quercetin), essential oil, phytosterols, organic acids, vitamins (A, B1, B2, C), and microelements. Additionally, it includes the DNJ alkaloid, which prevents the breakdown of polysaccharides into simple sugars in the environment of the small intestine.
Compounds isolated from ginkgo leaves improve blood circulation and strengthen the blood vessel wall. The plant can lower blood glucose, which is responsible for ginkgolic acids.
Cinnamon is commonly used as an aromatic spice. The cinnamon tree contains a polymer that shows a biological activity similar to insulin in the human body.
Berberine is a compound characteristic of a plant called barberry. It effectively reduces the symptoms of diabetes. Its action is comparable to that of pharmaceuticals. It improves the sensitivity of tissues to insulin, which gradually reduces the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Many plant compounds can be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. Supplementing the therapy with phytotherapy, a balanced diet, and physical activity will definitely improve health and well-being.
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