Type 2 diabetes is the eventual outcome of processes in the body that are not functioning properly. Namely, your pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not being absorbed efficiently by the cells. Insulin is a hormone that polices blood sugar levels in the body.
Blood sugar – also known as glucose – is obtained through the foods we eat and is the main type of sugar found in blood.
The sugar supplies the body with energy and nourishes the body’s organs, muscles and nervous system.
However, regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
Insulin therefore plays a protective role by regulating the supply of blood sugar in the body.
Poor insulin production therefore puts people with diabetes at a higher risk of severe complications.
Luckily, you can control blood sugar through another means – healthy dietary choices.
According to research published in the journal Nutrition Research, pomegranate juice may perform this function.
The researchers were interested in assessing whether the benefits of drinking pomegranate juice, which include lowering blood pressure due to its antioxidant properties, extend to lowering blood sugar.
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To investigate this, they recruited 85 people with type 2 diabetes and assigned them to receive 1.5 millilitres of pomegranate juice per kilogram of body weight.
Blood sugar and insulin levels, and beta cell function were assessed three hours after ingestion.
Beta cells are unique cells in the pancreas that produce, store and release the hormone insulin.
Results showed that pomegranate juice was associated with significant lower fasting glucose levels compared with control participants.
While the exact mechanisms involved remain unclear, the researchers suggest it may lie in juice’s antioxidant ability, which helps to thwart oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of unstable atoms called free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to cell and tissue damage.
Oxidative stress plays a pivotal role in the development of diabetes complications.
General tips to lower blood sugar
There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
That’s because certain foods can send blood sugar levels soaring; the worst being carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose relatively quickly and therefore has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than either fat or protein.
Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level – you should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week, advises the NHS.
“You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath,” it adds.
Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising – this is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
Peeing more than usual, particularly at nightFeeling thirsty all the timeFeeling very tiredLosing weight without trying toItching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrushCuts or wounds taking longer to healBlurred vision.