Monday, 25 August 2008

Suffering from diabetes? Eat fruits and vegetables

August 25, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Contrary to common belief that fruits will enhance the blood sugar levels and aggravate the health problems associated with diabetes, a team of scientists from the United Kingdom has found that a greater intake of fruits and vegetables will in fact decrease the risk of diabetes.
The UK research study showed that a higher plasma vitamin C level, and to a lesser extent fruit and vegetable intake, were associated with a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes that commonly affect the adults. People suffering from Type 2 diabetes need not take insulin injections as against those suffering from Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes. Fruits and vegetables seem to work wonders in the case of "sugar" patients with Type 2 diabetes.
The results of the study gain significance from the fact that it was one of the long drawn research studies spanning about 12 years. More than 20,000 people, both men and women, were studied as part of the research.
The scientists established a strong, inverse relationship between plasma vitamin C level and the risk of developing diabetes. "The potential risk of developing diabetes was 62 per cent lower for those in the top quintile of plasma vitamin C, compared with those in the bottom quintile. A similar association was shown between plasma vitamin C and diabetes in participants who had a haemoglobin A1c (higher sugar) level of less than 7 per cent.
A weaker inverse association was found between the intake of fruit and vegetables and the risk of diabetes," the study pointed out.
Since fruits and vegetables are the main sources of vitamin C, the study suggests that eating even a small quantity of fruits and vegetables may be beneficial and that the protection against diabetes increases progressively with the quantity of fruit and vegetables consumed.
In another study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, the oldest state-chartered university in the USA, some of the most commonly used dried herbs and spices may help block the inflammation believed to drive diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The Georgia researchers tested extracts from 24 common herbs and spices and found that many contained high levels of inflammation-inhibiting antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols. "Liberal use of cinnamon will have a great impact on your health", says researcher James L Hargrove.
Ground clove and cinnamon have more potential to positively affect health,
he adds.
In yet another study a team from the University of Warwick found that eating broccoli could reverse the damage caused by diabetes to heart blood vessels.
Broccoli contains a chemical called sulforaphane which works wonders with the circulatory system. People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Both are linked to damaged blood vessels.
Sulforaphane recorded a 73 per cent reduction of molecules in the body called Reactive Oxygen Species. Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels) can cause levels of ROS to increase three-fold and such high levels can damage human cells.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Tamarind good after fever, helps fight paracetamol poisoning

March 22, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 21: Just recovering from a bout of fever? Eat preparations containing tamarind like pulihora and you will be cleansing your body of the poisonous paracetamol traces that had accumulated in your body during medication.
According to a study conducted by the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, tamarind has properties that will remove the ill-effects of large doses of paracetamol, the medicine that is commonly prescribed for fevers.
Tamarind contains anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial and antioxidant properties. Since large doses of paracetamol cause acute dose-dependent necrosis (death of living cells) in both animals and human beings, the antioxidants present in tamarind inhibit the dangerous oxidative changes involved in paracetamol-induced toxicity, says Dr MJ Patil, who led the research
As part of the study, the IPSR team used male Wistar rats weighing between 150 and 200 grams and divided them into control and paracetamol-treated groups. Paracetamol caused acute liver damage in rats fed with large doses. The trend reversed after they were fed with tamarind extracts.
The hepatotoxicity (liver poisoning) caused by paracetamol has been attributed to the formation a highly reactive chemical formed in the process of its breaking down by the liver. The results showed that tamarind extracts (from fruit, seed as well as leaves) caused significant decrease in liver toxicity. It also reduced the bilirubin (a digestive enzyme secreted by liver) level and increased the secretary mechanism of
liver cells.
"It has been established that since barbiturates (medicines that act on brain) are metabolised exclusively in the liver, the sleeping time after a given dose is a measure of liver functioning. If there is any pre-existing liver damage, in this case paracetamol-induced toxicity, the sleeping time after a given dose of paracetamol will be prolonged because the amount of hypnotic broken down per unit time will be less.
The ability of tamarind extracts to reduce the prolongation of sleeping time in rats is suggestive of the liver protection potential of these extracts," he said.
The study of the liver cells of the rats revealed that the necrosis was reduced to a few inflammatory cells in the animals treated with tamarind. Inflammation of portal veins was also reduced.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Infertility treatment: Aloe vera can increase semen count

February 20, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 19: Aloe vera, the thorny succulent herb quite popular among beauticians, contains natural medicinal properties that enhance the fertility status of an individual and protect men from radiation-induced reproductive problems.
Health experts attending the 18th annual scientific meet on recent trends in reproductive health research, here point out that Aloe vera acts as a good radio protector and inhibits the testicular damage against gamma radiation.
According to Prashasnika Gehlot and PK Goyal of Radiation and Centre Biology Laboratory of Department of Zoology, University of Rajasthan, Aloe vera extract initiated, in laboratory animals, an early recovery from radiation-induced damage to restore normal architecture of testes.
The finding gains significance as radiation has become part of every day life and applications of ionising radiation in difficult areas are constantly increasing including the use for medicinal and industrial purposes.
"Testis is one of the radio-sensitive organs because of cell renewal system. Ionising radiation was found to produce marked effects on testes in terms of lethality and impaired spermatogenesis," they said adding that extract from the leaves of Aloe vera will improve the sperm count and rectify the damage caused to the tissue.
Aloe vera plant has traditionally been used around the world, particularly in India, as a folk remedy for treating inflammation, wounds, hepatitis and gastric ulcers. This is for the first time that Aloe vera's properties have been found to extend beyond beauty parlours and folk medicine.
The Jaipur scientists selected three groups of Swiss albino mice for their study. One group was treated with Aloe vera extract for 15 days. The second group was exposed to radiation and the third group was exposed to radiation and treated with Aloe vera extract.
The treatment of Aloe vera leaf inhibited lipid peroxidation elevation and significantly increased hormonal level as compared to control group. Besides, spermatogenic counts in Aloe vera treated group were found to be significantly higher than the irradiated control animals.
Moreover, Aloe vera extract initiated early recovery from radiation-induced damage to restore normal architecture of testes.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Turmeric prevents cataract in diabetics

January 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 31: Turmeric, a common kitchen ingredient, has been known for its anti-septic properties, and city nutritionists now find out that it also has the natural chemicals that are capable of preventing cataract in people suffering from diabetes.
"It is for the first time we report that turmeric, at the levels that are close to
average daily intake, can be effective in preventing diabetic cataract. One of
the important observations of this study is that both turmeric and its chemical
constituent, curcumin, delay the progression and maturation of cataract, despite elevated levels of glucose. These results thus provide a clue, for the first time, that turmeric or curcumin may act downstream to glucose-mediated changes," says a study by nutrition scientists of the National Institute of Nutrition.
Diabetes and cataract are inter-linked and cataract is more pronounced in people suffering from the disease. At present, the only treatment for cataract is surgery. It has been estimated that a delay in cataract onset by 10 years could reduce the need for cataract surgery by as much as half. The pronounced effect of turmeric may be due to other ingredients besides curcumin. The NIN study gains significance as any strategy that prevents or slows the progression of cataract has a significant health impact.
The joint study by P Suryanarayana, M Saraswat, T Mrudula and others involved feeding Wistar rats a diet including curcumin and turmeric. The turmeric and curcumin rich diet delayed the progression of diabetic cataract in rats. "Although, multiple mechanisms may contribute to these effects, the antioxidant effect of curcumin and turmeric appears to be the predominant mechanism of action," they said.
The NIN scientists selected Wistar rats and diabetes was induced by streptozotocin (a substances that damages insulin producing cells). They monitored the cataract progression due to hyperglycemia (high levels of sugar in blood). At the end of eight weeks, the animals were killed and the crystalline profile in the lens was investigated.
"Although, both curcumin and turmeric did not prevent streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia, as assessed by blood glucose and insulin levels, slit lamp microscope observations indicated that these supplements delayed the progression and maturation of cataract," they added.
The results indicated that turmeric and curcumin are effective against the development of diabetic cataract in rats. Further, these results imply that ingredients in the study’s dietary sources, such as turmeric, may be explored
for anticataractogenic (that works against cataract formation) agents that prevent or delay the development of cataract.