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Eat Fenugreek To Keep Diabetes At Bay

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Diabetes is proving an insurmountable challenge for health services, with rates rising at full tilt.

Researchers have pointed to increasing obesity caseloads as a major cause of the diabetes crisis, but high sugar intake is another culprit.

Fortunately, some foods have strong lowering effects on blood glucose, with one herb shown to lower levels by 25% when consumed on a regular basis.

That herb is fenugreek (entangaluyiira, mitti). And it is commonly sold in form of leaves and seeds at Nakasero Market in Kampala.

Fenugreek is taken by mouth for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, stomach upset, constipation and inflammation of the stomach gastritis.

However, it has also been touted as an antidote for centuries because its benefits are wide-ranging and potent.

It is mainly recognised for its anti-cancerous properties, with a string of studies showing it is able to inhibit the proliferation of malignant cells.

The edible spice has benefits that stretch far beyond its anti-cancer properties, and some researchers have suggested it may also prevent diabetes.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition bears out such claims, showing that levels of blood sugar drop significantly after fenugreek intake.

The research team noted: “There was a 54% reduction in 24-hour urinary glucose exertion. Serum total cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and Very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides were also significantly reduced. The high-density lipoprotein cholesterol fraction, however, remained unchanged. These results indicate the usefulness of fenugreek seeds in the management of diabetes.”

Research suggests these effects are attributable to the spice’s soluble fibre, which helps lower blood sugar by decelerating the absorption of carbohydrates.

The researchers noted elsewhere in the paper that the fenugreek diet significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and improved the glucose tolerance test and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were all significantly reduced.

The study was carried out to evaluate the lowering effects on both cholesterol and blood sugar of fenugreek over the course of eight weeks. Diabetes patients were administered 10 grammes of powdered fenugreek seeds daily mixed with yoghurt or soaked in hot water.

The researchers continued: “Findings showed that fasting blood sugar, triglyceride and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased significantly 25%, 30%, and 30.6% after taking fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water.”

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, researchers have suggested the seed may also be effective in the treatment of constipation, male impotence, hair loss and kidney ailments.

Side effects of the herb

As with other blood sugar lowering herbs, fenugreek could cause levels to drop to suboptimal levels if consumed too frequently, resulting in hypoglycaemia.

Other potential side effects of fenugreek consumption may include diarrhoea, nausea and other ailments of the digestive tract.

The writer is a professor of public health microbiology, and head of department of Medical Microbiology, Makerere University College of Health Sciences.

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