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10 researched Nigerian foods that prevent and treat diabetes

You are diagnosed as diabetic when your body is unable to process the sugar in the food you eat. It simply means the blood glucose in your blood is high.

Diabetes can be prevented and managed by eating healthy and maintaining a good lifestyle. In this health article, we will be highlighting Nigerian foods that prevent and can help treat diabetes according to a study by scientists.

How carbohydrates are processed in the body

Foods after consumption are broken down to extract the energy needed by the body. With the help of insulin, carbohydrates in food are converted to glucose after digestion. It is these glucose that is absorbed by cells for energy production and effective functioning of the body system.

As a quick reminder, cells make up tissues; tissues make up organs; and organs make up systems of the human body.

When glucose fails to enter the cell, they instead remain in the cell and thus, a high blood sugar level. The sugar would invariably be filtered by the kidney and subsequently excreted in the urine.

Types of Diabetes

There are four types of diabetes that affect people across the globe including Nigeria. They are; Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes (most common), pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes.

About 10 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1. It is described as an autoimmune disease because the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin are destroyed. Insulin is responsible for breaking down the body’s carbohydrates into glucose. Patients with this type of diabetes are required to take insulin daily thus its common name, insulin-dependent diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It occur when the body does not produce enough insulin to efficiently digest the ingested carbohydrates. Sometimes, it is caused by the inability of the body cells to respond to insulin despite its availability. When they don’t respond, the glucose invariably remains in the blood.

Gestational diabetes is temporary diabetes. It is found in pregnant women and most likely to go away after delivery. However, people diagnosed with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Prediabetes just like the name suggest is usually diagnosed before Type 2 diabetes. At this stage, the blood sugar is high but not enough to be considered as Type 2 diabetes.

INTERESTING READ: Layman Anatomy: Differences between upper limb and lower limb

Statistics of Diabetics patients in Nigeria

There are varying data on the number of people in Nigeria with diabetes.

Contributing to this is the fact that no nationwide health (diabetes) survey has been conducted in Nigeria since 1992. The survey at the time pegged diabetes mellitus (DM) prevalence at 2.2 per cent of the total population.

However, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), about 2.7 million people in Nigeria are diabetic. The Federation also rates Nigeria second country with the highest number of diabetics patients in Africa. South Africa has about 4.6 million diabetic patients according to the data.

Diabetes in Nigeria - Lanre News
Source: IDF Diabetes Atlas 9th Edition 2019

Nigerian foods you can eat to prevent diabetes

Nigerian foods with complex carbohydrates are healthy for people with risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These carbohydrates food are very rich in fibre.

Such foods do not contain much digestible carbohydrates and thus only cause gradual and lower rise in blood sugar.

INTERESTING READ: Layman Anatomy: Differences between upper limb and lower limb

You can also choose unripe fruits as they also result in lower blood glucose level.

Nigerians food to prevent diabetes

According to a review article published on Dubai Diabetes and Endocrinology Journal by Adeleke O.R. and Ayenigbara G.O of the Department of Human Kinetics and Health Education, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Nigeria, such foods include:

  • Cocoyam
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Plantain
  • Water yam
  • Cassava
  • Maize
  • Grains
  • Unripe plantain
  • Unripe grape
  • Unripe orange
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus
  • Grapes
  • Garden eggs
  • Pepper
  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Cashew
  • Waterleaf
  • Bitter leaf

It is however advisable to eat unripe fruits where possible as they are likely to lower the glucose level in the blood, unlike ripe ones.

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