Type 2 Diabetes is one of the most serious and widespread disorders facing Americans nowadays. In fact, some researchers are going as far as to say that it has now reached epidemic proportions.
But what exactly makes it so bad?
Type 2 Diabetes causes the pancreas to not produce enough insulin or not allow the body to use the insulin adequately (called “insulin resistance”). When the body doesn’t get enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose (sugar) can’t get into the body’s cells. Instead, the glucose builds up in the blood, and the malnourished cells are not able to function properly (and this can lead to myriad problems).
To reduce blood sugar levels, any number of powerful drugs have been developed. But, like many such creations, the side effects are often equal to the benefits. Written on many of the labels of these prescriptions are warnings of side effects such as dizziness, diarrhea and blurred vision (to name a few).
Scientists have long been searching for a natural alternative to these drugs to reduce these negative effects, and they may have just found it: in a cup of tea.
In a new study released this week, researchers from Tianjin University in China have found that tea, especially black tea it seems, contains compounds known as polysaccharides. These tea polysaccharides seem to work in nearly the same way as most drugs, by inhibiting an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, which converts starch into glucose. By stopping this enzyme, the body won’t over-produce glucose and there won’t be an abnormal amount of sugar in the blood (a fairly effective way to manage the disorder).
While these findings are nowhere near definitive, the preliminary results are encouraging. Another amazing benefit for drinking something that’s already quite enjoyable!
In closing, I would be remiss to fail to mention that the best medicine, of course, is always prevention: it has been shown that the onset of Type 2 Diabetes can often be delayed, even avoided, through proper nutrition (ahem, cut the high fructose corn syrup and drink more tea) and regular exercise. So work out – and drink up!