Compounds in Turmeric Could Help Treat and Even Prevent Diabetes

Posted on Sep 22, 2012

Turmeric might do more than just add flavor to your food—it could help you control your diabetes. Results from a Chinese study indicated that patients with type 2 diabetes were better able to control their blood sugar when given daily supplements containing compounds found in the spice turmeric.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from Harbin Medical University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, focused on the benefits of curcumin, a primary component of turmeric. The researchers found that curcuminoids (curcumin and its extracts) reduced the levels of free fatty acids (FFAs) in patients with type 2 diabetes. 

Over the course of three months, 100 patients were given 300 mg per day of curcuminoids or placebo. At the end of the treatment period, the patients in the curcuminoid group had experienced a significant decrease in:

  • Blood glucose levels
  • Hemoglobin A1C
  • Insulin resistance
  • FFAs

This could be good news for individuals who have diabetes and for those who hope to prevent the disease. According to the researchers, FFAs play a key role in the development of insulin resistance. Thus, if people can reduce their FFA levels, they might improve their chances of avoiding diabetes or better managing it if they already have the disease.

Curcumin has been the focus of earlier diabetes-related studies, and other research has shown that the compound could be useful in treating individuals with fatty liver disease, Alzheimer's disease, tendinitis, and other health conditions. 

The authors of the current study said theirs was “the first study to show that curcuminoids may have an antidiabetic effect by decreasing serum fatty acid possibly through the promotion of fatty acid oxidation and utilization."

They also noted that the amount of curcuminoids given to the patients in their study was higher than a person could reasonably include in a normal diet, so people who are interested in exploring the use of curcuminoids to improve their blood sugar levels should instead take them as a supplement. 

As always, the Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates recommend that you talk with your physician before making any significant changes in your daily diet and exercise routine.

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