Many cultures use medicine as the first line of treatment for ailments and chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Others turn to natural remedies and proper nutrition. In some cases, drugs and alternative medicine may be used in a combination.
Although sometimes there may be little or no scientific proof of the effectiveness of certain alternative treatments, many people swear by them. The number of people who went this route and had positive results is hard to dispute.
Take okra, for example.
Information on okra and diabetes management has taken over the internet as many diabetics and researchers look for alternative treatments.
In fact, recent claims of this vegetable being a miraculous breakthrough in the treatment and reversal of type 2 diabetes recently went viral.
Is this the end all be all cure for type 2 diabetes? Should it be in your treatment arsenal? Yes. Will it fix everything? Not exactly. Let me explain.
What is Okra?
Okra, also called “gumbo” and “lady’s fingers,” is a light green vegetable with a long shape. Some call it a fruit, others a plant. It is a member of the cotton and hibiscus family of plants. The whole vegetable can be eaten including the small seed pods.
For many years, okra was regarded as a superfood that contains phytonutrients. This is believed to be helpful in preventing and treating certain diseases and health conditions such as high cholesterol, fatigue — and even cancer.
More recently, it has been suggested for managing blood sugar levels in people with types 1, 2 and gestational diabetes. The use of okra in the treatment of diabetes gained popularity since it causes a gentle rise in blood sugar while providing a list of important nutrients.
Nutritional Facts of Okra
- low in sugar
- fewer calories
- zero saturated fats
- high in dietary fiber
- zero cholesterol
- good source of protein
- rich in vitamins A, B6, C, and K
- source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, folic acid, and pantothenic acid
Controlling Diabetes with Okra
Managing diabetes symptoms involves eating healthy foods, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress. Including okra in your diet is a great and natural way to keep diabetes in check without the side effects of prescription drugs.
Not to mention the discomfort of having to inject yourself with insulin every day. A daily diet made up of okra can provide these benefits to help control diabetes:
You can fight fatigue, another symptom of high blood sugar, with sufficient intake of okra every day and routine exercise. Okra seeds contain polyphenols and antioxidants to help the liver store glycogen and release more energy to your body.
When blood sugar rises it can increase hunger and thirst making it easier to overeat or eat unhealthy foods. Gaining weight or being overweight makes it difficult to control blood sugar. Okra provides a good amount of dietary fiber to keep you fuller longer and reduce cravings.
Improve cholesterol levels
Continuously high cholesterol levels increase the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and heart attacks. With its zero-cholesterol content and important phytonutrients, okra helps reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and promote the production of bile acid to improve heart health.
Stress management is a vital part of diabetes management as chronic stress can trigger symptoms of diabetes. Okra seed extracts provide antioxidants that produced an anti-stress effect when tested in rats.
Strengthens the immune system
A strong immune system is needed to fight off infections, diseases, and opportunistic health conditions. You can boost your immune system by eating okra, considering it is rich in vitamins A and C and other important nutrients.
Can Okra Reverse Diabetes?
While medical research on okra and diabetes management is still ongoing, tests performed on pregnant rats show a positive effect on blood sugar. A decline in blood sugar was seen in rats who were fed okra extract. The vegetable can be prepared and consumed in various ways.
- shredded okra peel (eaten raw or cooked)
- okra water/extract (okra soaked in water overnight)
- roasted okra seeds
- steamed or boiled okra
- roasted okra slices
- pickled okra
Considering that foods high in carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats are bad for diabetics, okra can provide many of your daily nutrients without threatening to raise your blood sugar.
To be more specific, 1 cup of okra has 30 calories and only 7g of carbs. Only 1.5g of the carbs is actual sugar and another 3.2g makes up dietary fibers.
Okra’s high fiber content keeps you fuller longer, reduce cravings, and aids digestion.
Having zero cholesterol makes it a great food to lower the risk of heart disease, another condition that affects diabetics.
But Can Okra Help Diabetics?
Currently, there is no medical proof that eating okra alone can prevent diabetes symptoms or reverse the disease. But because of its extensive nutritional benefits, this vegetable is seen as a natural and effective way of treating diabetes.
Furthermore, the ability of okra extract to decrease blood sugar in rats may be a helpful finding in the management of diabetes.
This is in addition to maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, and keeping stress levels low.
Risks of Using Okra to Treat Diabetes
Despite claims that okra is a great food for treating diabetes naturally, there are some negative side effects linked its use. This nutritious vegetable seems to prevent absorption of metformin in the bloodstream and reduce its effectiveness.
You should, therefore, avoid using okra and metformin at the same time. However, okra may not have the same effect on the extended-release form of metformin since the drug will continue to act in the body long after okra is digested.
It is best to speak with your doctor before using okra if you are taking metformin.
In addition, diabetics who are allergic to okra cannot enjoy the benefits it offers. People allergic to plants in the mallow family, such as cotton and hibiscus, may also develop an allergic reaction from consuming okra.
Although many believe okra alone can reverse diabetes, there is not enough evidence of this as of today.
However, okra should most certainly be a part your diabetes treatment plan since it comes loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and is low in sugar and calories.