There has been a tremendous increase in the population suffering from diabetes, a lifestyle disease. The number is now 382 million according to the World Health Organization report. Diabetes is one of the lifestyle diseases affecting many patients.
Recently, there have been shifts in using modern medicine back to utilizing traditional plants and fruits. Some species of plants have beneficial medicinal properties that are helpful.
The micronutrients help in preventing and facilitating the healing process of specific diseases. Research reveals that bitter melon contains some essential nutrients beneficial in helping patients with diabetes.
What is a bitter melon?
Bitter melon belongs to a subtropical and tropical vine family of fruits. It has many names that depend on the different regions that grow it. Some terms include bitter apple, Momordica Charantia, bitter guard, bitter squash, and balsam pear among others.
You can find bitter melon in many regions including Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. The origin of the bitter melon was in India; it then spread to China in the 14th century. Asians constitute the largest consumers of the fruit as they use it to make Asian cuisines. Some of the regions that also consume the fruit on a large scale include Southeastern, East, and South Asia.
What are the benefits of Bitter Melon in Diabetes?
Bitter melon contains nutrients such as iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin c, dietary fibers, and beta-carotene. The nutrients provide various benefits to the patients who have diabetes such as:
- Bitter Melon Maintenance of blood sugar levels
Bitter melon contains insulin components in the form of polypeptide-p or p-insulin.
The medical experts found the substance to be important in controlling diabetes naturally. Over time, there have been a series of clinical trials to confirm the benefit.
Such a test is the one published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
The experiments revealed that if one takes 2000mg of bitter melon for diabetes juice continuously daily, the patients’ blood sugars reduce steadily. It assists both patients suffering from diabetes type-1 and type-2.
Consequent trials found out that the insulin increases the uptake level of glucose in patients.
The hypoglycemic components improve the ability a patient has in utilizing sugar for energy purposes.
Also, bitter melon led to a reduced fasting plasma glucose level. The lectin component is instrumental in reducing blood glucose concentration.
Charantia is one of the most critical components found in the fruit.
Charantia contains sitosteryl glucoside and stigmasteryl glucoside.
The two elements are useful in the reduction of blood glucose levels in the body of diabetic patients.
- Bitter Melon Aids in strengthening the immune system
Whenever a person has diabetes, it’s important they protect themselves against contacting any other diseases.
Contracting other forms of illnesses may make their health deteriorate. Bitter melon is useful in improving the functioning of the immune system.
The fruit contains vitamin c and antioxidants that promote cellular functioning and oxidant scavenging.
The nutrients help the body fight bacteria and viruses that attack a patient.
Bitter squash also helps in the prevention of allergies and any indigestion issues in the patient.
Pharmaceutical research journal published a study article in 2010 that revealed that the fruit contains anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor properties essential to the body’s immune system.
- Bitter Melon Effects on Glucose Intolerance
Recent studies show that bitter melon works in improving glucose intolerance among patients.
The components present to enhance the sensitive nature of insulin in the body. By doing so, the process mitigates insulin resistance thus suppressing blood glucose levels.
- Bitter Melon Helps Lowering of hemoglobin A1C
A patient with diabetes has to maintain the levels of hemoglobin A1C in a certain range. Hemoglobin is a compound found in the red blood cells.
In diabetic patients, the glucose usually binds with the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The patient’s level of hemoglobin A1C is not supposed to go up.
High levels reveal that it is not a good sign.
Bitter melon has nutrients that help to lower the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) in patients with diabetes type-2.
The journal of clinical epidemiology published a clinical trial that showed its usefulness in patients with uncontrolled diabetes and the newly diagnosed.
There was a 0.25 decrease when compared to patients who did not consume the fruit.
- Bitter Melon Assists Patient in Weight Loss
One of the risk factors of diabetes is obesity. It is thus essential for diabetic patients to work towards alleviating obesity.
Momordica Charantia is very low on the caloric content, fats, and carbohydrates.
The reduced levels of the three components make it healthy for patients with obesity. When you consume the fruit, you will not get hungry for an extended period.
The hypoglycemic effects develop after one drinks bitter melon. It thus suppresses appetite on an individual and controls their eating habit.
Regular consumption of the fruit helps in supporting weight loss goals. The Momordica Charantia boosts fat metabolism by reducing the adiposity.
In turn, the process promotes the uptake of lipids and increased metabolism. Another mechanism in which the fruit works is by dislocating the human fat cells.
The dislocation hinders the formation of new fat cells. Momordica Charantia is a natural remedy for treating obesity.
Not only does it facilitate the loss of weight but also lowers bad cholesterol level in the body.
The iron and folic acid decrease the risk of stroke keeping you healthy.
- Bitter Melon Preservation of Pancreatic B cells and Insulin Secretion
Medical experts found out that oral administration of bitter melon is essential.
The consumption leads to the stimulation and flow of insulin from the endocrine pancreatic B cells.
The secretion, in turn, elicits the uptake of glucose in the liver of the patient.
The process leads to a consequent increase in the number of cells producing insulin in the body.
Different parts of the body can take in the glucose and use it to generate energy.
How do you use bitter melon for diabetes?
How the fruit is stored determines how the bitter melon can be used. Gathering and storage of the bitter melon is the initial stage of using the fruit or vegetable.
Preferably it is good to buy the fruits when they are in season as there is a wide variety to choose from.
Select the plants that are fresh to maximize on obtaining the volatile nutrients such as vitamin C.
Make sure you find vegetables with bright dark-green pods that are immature. Most times, the young plants are less bitter compared to the mature ones.
The astringent level in the ripe fruits is much higher causing the bitterness to increase. Look for the vegetables that are clear of any blemishes and cuts for a patient’s safety reasons.
You can store them in the vegetable compartment in the refrigerator.
There are various ways that one can employ in using bitter melon for diabetes:
- Cooking as a meal with Bitter Melon
The most common method of using bitter melon for diabetes is through cooking as a vegetable.
Some people who hate the bitter taste have a choice to cook the vegetable. One can mix the herb with other dishes to minimize the astringent taste.
Various regions have different names for the meals they make containing bitter melon. There are local indigenous dishes and cuisines of the fruit.
Some of the recipes include stir- fry bitter melon with pork and bitter melon stir fry with dried shrimp among others.
- Eating as a fruit
To reap full benefits, the best way is to consume the fruit while still raw. Eating the fruit when fresh gives your body the nutrients available in total.
You can absorb volatile nutrients such as vitamin C and antioxidants. Cooking destroys volatile nutrients such as the antioxidants found in the melon.
If you don’t mind chewing and swallowing the fruit, you can choose this option.
- Making juice with Bitter Melon
There are those who don’t like the idea of chewing the fruit and swallowing the solid matter.
The best option for them is to create fruit juice. The Kerela juice is the most common type of juice made from the plant.
The first step in making the drink is to peel the Momordica Charantia with a sharp knife. After peeling you slice the fruit into half and scoop out the seeds and white flesh.
Cut the vegetable into smaller pieces and soak in cold water for about 30 minutes.
Place the pieces into the blender and blend.
There are many advantages for the people who would prefer this method. The first is that you get an easy time drinking the juice alone rather than trying to chew the solid vegetable.
You can also enhance the drink by adding other natural ingredients to make it less bitter. In most cases, honey is added to the juice.
Another additive that can be added is lemon as it is advantageous in reducing the bitter, astringent taste.
Others include ginger, pepper, and salt pinches. You can also add other juices like pear juice, apple juice, and lemon juice.
- Herbal Supplements
Other forms of Momordica Charantia come as herbal supplements. Dietary supplements contain extracts from the bitter melon plant.
You can find the nutritional supplements from the drug stores, herbal-based shops, and food stores.
The option is appropriate primarily for those living far from the supply of fresh vegetables. It’s the best option when you can’t find fresh fruits when you need the bitter melon.
Dietary supplements can be in the form of capsules or powder form. The companies remove the wet weight from the plant and remain with the powder.
It is vital that you buy the supplements from reputable drug stores.
- Bitter squash tea
The bitter squash tea is available for those who love variety. Making bitter melon tea is very straightforward and fast.
You only need to have water to boil in a pot. Add the bitter melon extract to the boiling water and wait for a while.
The good thing is that you can make the tea from many components. If you have the bitter squash vegetable, you can cut in into slices and put them in the boiling water. Another method is using the powder extract, its leaves, seeds, and fruit.
After simmering for a while, you sieve the contents into your cup.
You also have the option of adding honey or the agave syrup to your tea to reduce the bitter taste.
Avoid the temptation of adding artificial sweeteners as they are not recommended especially when suffering from diabetes.
Benefits of using Momordica Charantia for diabetes
- The option provides a natural alternative to managing diabetes. It allows one to avoid using artificially made medications. The medicine comes from a plant extract and thus easy for the body to absorb and utilize.
- The extract being natural from the plants has fewer side effects when compared to the artificially made medicine.
- It is a cost-effective option especially in low-income regions with no access to modern medicine. Developing countries use the alternative due to the financial constraints and lack of care facilities.
- The option provides a wide variety of forms to choose from daily. One can eat the fruit while raw, cooked with other delicacies, like tea, dietary supplements, or as a juice.
What are some of the precautions?
- As much as bitter squash is a plant-based extract, it is essential to take some precautions. As per now, the safety of long-term use of the plant is unknown. Consult with your physician before using the herb on a long-term basis.
- Avoid using the herb especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding your baby. There is evidence that ingesting the plant when pregnant causes irregular menstrual bleeding in women and abortion to animals.
- Do not take the plant alongside your medicine unless advised so by your physician. The blood may interact with the medications and cause serious consequences.
- The dosage for bitter melon is unknown; it may depend on various factors such as age and your health condition. Consult with a physician first before taking it.