Could Curcumin Beat Weight Loss for Reducing Diabetes Risk?

If you’re obese, your wellbeing may be at risk to weight-related conditions, such as diabetes. However, according to a new Thai study, published in journal Diabetes Care, a compound found in curry spice may help prevent diabetes in people at high risk. Turmeric spice contains a compound known as curcumin, and the researchers found that nine months worth of curcumin supplements may prevent new cases of diabetes.

According to previous lab research, curcumin may be able to fight inflammation and so-called oxidative damage to body cells. These two processes are thought to feed a range of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, especially among those with prediabetes. This is a condition in which you have abnormally high blood sugar levels that may be a precursor to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Study leader Somlak Chuengsamarn of Srinakharinwirot University in Nakomnayok, Thailand, commented, ‘Because of its benefits and safety, we propose that curcumin extract may be used for an intervention therapy for the prediabetes population.’

For the study, 240 prediabetic adults in Thailand were either given curcumin supplements or a placebo. Those in the curcumin group followed a daily regime of six supplement capsules, each containing 250 milligrams of “curcuminoids”. The results of the nine-month study revealed that 19 of the 116 placebo patients had developed type 2 diabetes, while none of the 119 patients taking curcumin had developed the condition. The beta cells are the cells in your pancreas that release the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin, and the researchers found that the supplement seemed to improve the function of beta-cells, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin.

However, before you head to your nearest health food shop and stock up on curcumin supplements, a diabetes expert not involved in the study warned that it’s still early days. Constance Brown-Riggs, a certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, noted, ‘This looks promising, but there are still a lot of questions.’ While longer-lasting larger trials have found that lifestyle changes – such as weight loss and exercise – can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes, this study only nine months and you cannot be sure that the supplements you buy actually contain the ingredients, or the amount of ingredient, listed on the label. Brown-Riggs asserted, ‘If I was talking to a patient about this, I’d say concentrate on eating healthy and overall lifestyle.’

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