Diet therapy to keep secondary diabetes complications at bay
Syed Akbar Hyderabad, May 28: As medicines, including the costly ones, fail to control or prevent secondary health complications in people suffering from diabetes, the city-based National Institute of Nutrition has suggested a sort of "dietary therapy" for a long and healthy life. Though diabetes can be controlled through medication, the health problems it throws up in later part of life are very hard to manage. Most of the secondary complications linked to diabetes like heart, kidney, blood vessel and eye diseases cannot be controlled or prevented even though the blood sugar levels are maintained at normal level through medicines. The NIN has selected a variety of fruits, vegetables and spices and tested them in animals to find out whether they are capable of preventing or controlling secondary complications linked to diabetes. The NIN studies have found that apple, amla (Emblica), spinach, cumin, fennel, tulsi (basil), black pepper, turmeric, lemon, bitter gourd, cinnamon, green tea, ginger and garlic have special properties that could check major health issues in diabetics like cataract, and damage to optic nerves, kidneys, heart and nervous system. "Although there have been major advances in the control of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels) through dietary changes, hypoglycaemic agents, insulin and islet transplantation, the long term complications of diabetes remain serious problems to be dealt with," according to Dr G Bhanuprakash Reddy. NIN researchers Dr P Suryanarayana, Mr P Yadagiri Reddy, Dr P Anil Kumar, Ms Mega Saraswat and Mr P Muthenna carried out studies to screen and test new aldose reductase-2 inhibitors (ARI) and antiglycating compounds from natural sources, particularly from food material. The presence of ARI and antiglycating compounds helps in fighting secondary health complications in diabetics. The NIN scientists screened a large number of dietary agents and spices for their ability to inhibit ALR2 and protein glycation using laboratory models. The NIN is presently seized with further studies to develop molecular target-based nutraceuticals against diabetic complications. Since most of the dietary agents are expected to be free from adverse effects, testing them for their ARI and antiglycating potential may lead to a better management of secondary complications of diabetes. "This will help us to understand their role in the regular diet and as a preventive measure. These diets may be prescribed as adjunct dietary therapy for controlling the diabetic complications," he added.