Diabetes is a group of disorders characterised by blood sugar abnormalities. It occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin – the hormone that takes up blood glucose – or production of the hormone ceases altogether. Managing high glucose levels is critical to protect the body from irreversible nerve damage. Fortunately, one food could help by significantly lowering levels within hours of intake.
In a study published Environmental Health Insights, researchers observed considerable reductions in blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetic patients.
In type 2 diabetics, the team observed a reduction of 40mg/dl in type 2 diabetic patients, four hours after intake.
These findings were confirmed by another study, presented at The Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting San Diego, in which scientists observed a reduction in blood glucose of 50 percent.
Lead investigators Anthony Ojieh, of Delta State University in Abraka, said: “Onion is cheap and available as has been used as a nutritional supplement. It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes.”
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The animal study looked at the effects of varying doses of onion on three groups of rats with medically induced diabetes.
The findings revealed two doses of onion extract, of 400 and 600 mg/kg per day, strongly reduced fasting blood sugar levels in diabetic rats by 50 percent and 35 percent respectively, compared with baseline.
“We investigated the mechanism by which onion brought about the blood glucose reduction [but] we do not yet have an explanation,” explained Mr Ojieh.
The compounds responsible for the reduction of blood sugar levels are quercetin and sulphur compounds, which possess anti-diabetic qualities.
Quercetin, which is a flavonoid, has been shown to interact with cells in the small intestine, pancreas, skeletal muscle, fat tissue and liver to control whole-body blood sugar regulation.
A medical paper published in the Current Medicinal Chemistry journal explained: “Flavonoids are a large group of polyphenols that are widely present in the human diet.
“They have shown promising therapeutic activities against a wide range of ailments.
“One of the most widely distributed and most extensively studied flavonoids is the flavonoid quercetin.