The 21st century continues to see an increasing number of lifestyle diseases, and Diabetes is one among them. Diabetes is highly prevalent globally, with over 400 million estimated to be living with diabetes.
The good news is, with conscious efforts like dietary habits and exercise, diabetes can be managed very well; pre-diabetics can actually postpone the onset of diabetes.
Certain vegetables and fruits possess excellent medicinal properties that regular intake of them can reduce the risk of the onset of various diseases. Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon is one such vegetable.
Particularly, Bitter gourd’s ability to influence the blood sugar levels is of much interest as a recent study says the vegetable consumption can help pre-diabetics ward off diabetes and those who already have diabetes to manage it well.
Origin Of Bitter Melon
Bitter gourd, also known as the bitter melon, is native to the Indian subcontinent. The vegetable was introduced to China during the 14th century. It is now widely grown in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Momordica charantia L is the botanical name of this bitter-tasting vegetable-fruit that offers numerous health benefits including but not limited to maintaining blood sugar levels, lowering bad cholesterol, boosting immunity and aiding weight loss.
Regular Consumption Of Bitter Gourd Helps In Preventing And Managing Diabetes – Study
A research paper titled “Bitter gourd reduces elevated fasting plasma glucose levels in an intervention study among prediabetics in Tanzania” was published in Elsevier Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 216 on 24 April 2018. The paper, based on the results of a clinical trial conducted, assesses the anti-diabetic effects of bitter gourd on those who are prediabetic.
Who Took Part In The Clinical Trials?
The randomised placebo-controlled single-blinded, crossover intervention study was conducted in the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI). After the screening process, 61 participants in the age group 30 to 65 years were identified to participate in the clinical trial. The group underwent necessary tests to establish the baseline values before the start of the trial period.
How Was The Trial Conducted?
The control group consumed a daily dose 2.5g of bitter gourd (with added ingredients to mask the bitterness). The placebo group consumed cucumber powder (with the same added ingredients) over eight weeks. After a 4-week washout period, a crossover was carried out, and the experiment continued for another eight weeks.
The participants maintained the same diet and exercise routine during the period and had to inform of changes if any. In addition, regular assessments were conducted during weekly checkups, before and after each supplementation phase to monitor any changes among the test subjects.
Among the 61 participants, few dropped out along the way. So, the results were based on the remaining 52 participants who completed the trial.
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Were There Significant Side Effects?
Most of the participants responded well to bitter gourd supplement with a few reporting mild adverse effects such as flatulence, nausea, etc. but no significant side effects occurred.
Finally, the primary outcome variable, the Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG), was analysed, and the results tabulated.
What Was The Conclusion?
Based on the findings of the research study the authors concluded that,“The consumption of 2.5 g dry bitter gourd (equivalent to 50 g fresh bitter gourd) may depict an effective approach to lower elevated blood glucose levels in individuals with prediabetes. The glucose-lowering effect of bitter gourd was found higher among participants who started with higher baseline FPG levels. As the current study included prediabetic participants only, the glucose-lowering effect of bitter gourd is expected to be even more pronounced among patients with higher glucose levels. However, more studies are needed to support these findings.”
So, Can Bitter Gourd Help In Preventing Diabetes?
Yes. There are clear indications that making this humble fruit-vegetable a part of your diet can help lead a diabetes-free life. However, consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes in this regard, especially if you are on any medication.
To read about the details of the clinical trial, click here to read the research paper published in Sciencedirect.com website.