Curcumin, the spice known for giving curry dishes their very distinct flavor and color was placed under the microscope and unveiled some exciting results. Researchers at a University in Thailand discovered that daily doses of curcumin spanned over the course of nine months prevented the development of type 2 diabetes in subjects diagnosed with pre-diabetes.
Curcumin is a compound derived from the turmeric spice and is known for its distinct color and flavor – giving curry dishes their very essence. In previous studies, curcumin has been linked to reducing inflammation inside the body, as well as fighting free-radicals – two significant markers of disease, including type 2 diabetes.
The study observed 240 Thai adults who had been diagnosed with prediabetes. Subjects were given either a placebo or 250 milligrams of “curcuminoids” to take daily. At the completion of 9 months, 19 of the 116 subjects taking the placebo had developed type 2 diabetes, while not one of the 119 subjects taking the curcumin supplements progressed to type 2 diabetes.
The success of curcumin in the body’s battle against full-blown diabetes is linked to improved function of beta-cells found in the pancreas. Beta-cells are responsible for the release of the hormone, insulin, which regulates blood glucose levels. Functioning of these cells is often impaired in individuals with type 2 diabetes due to overuse and inflammation. Researchers speculate the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin likely offer the beta-cells protection.
Experts in diabetes care are cautious to endorse these findings, as longer term studies need to be carried out before curcumin can be recommended as part of a preventive health plan. What is conclusive, however is that pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes may be effectively prevented and, in some cases, reversed through dedication to lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet and routine physical activity.
Constance Brown-Riggs, a certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Reuters, “This looks promising, but there are still a lot of questions. [Regarding curcumin supplements] Consumers can’t be sure that a product actually contains the ingredients, or the amount of ingredient, listed on the label. If I was talking to a patient about this, I’d say concentrate on eating healthy and overall lifestyle.”
Many industry experts would agree with Brown-Riggs, especially considering that the supplement industry is highly unregulated. If you do choose to add curcumin to your daily intake, consider adding the spice to your meals or shopping for supplements that have the seal of approval from non-profit entities that grade manufacturing standards, including and especially, ConsumerLab.com, United States Pharmacopoeia and NSF International.