Diabetes: The purple drink that lowers blood sugar levels within 15 minutes of intake

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes is a lifelong condition characterised by unruly blood sugar. It is present in those whose body lacks or fails to respond to insulin – a hormone that allows sugar to be taken up by cells. Prevention and early treatment are key to warding off the myriad complications linked to the disease. One drink, which can lower blood sugar levels within 15 minutes of intake, may have strong protective effects against diabetes.

Beetroot juice boasts a wide range of health qualities. Notably, the naturally occurring chemicals that give beets their rich purple colour – known as betalains – are powerful antioxidants.

But the impressive health qualities of beetroot are owed mainly to its rich nitrate content.

These compounds are involved in many important metabolic processes that may act as a buffer against risk factors associated with diabetes.

One meta-analysis, published in the medical journal Metabolites earlier this year, determined the nitrate yielded from beetroot juice could lower glucose levels in just 15 minutes.

READ MORE: Type 2 diabetes diet: The 90p green vegetable you should add to your meals today

The analysis cites one 2018 study, that looked at 10 healthy volunteers in a crossover trial who were administered 270ml beetroot juice.

A separate group was administered a sugar-matched control of white bread to make up 50 grams of total carbohydrate.

The beetroot juice intervention saw “reduced blood glucose levels at 15, 30, 90 and 180 minutes” compared to control, showing a reduction in the early phase and peak glucose, as well as a delay in glycemic response.

A separate 2017 study yielded similar results after recipients were administered 300 grams of carbohydrate in a meal with either 250ml of beetroot juice, or 250ml of water.

Results revealed that blood glucose levels at three hours post-meal were significantly lowered in the test condition than in the control group.

The findings add evidence to a line of research supporting the benefits of beetroot for individuals with diabetes.

Beetroot stores nitrate in its roots, as do other plants including rocket and radish celery, which are all abundant in nitrate.

Interestingly, beets harvested in the summer contain lower nitrate concentrations than those harvested in the autumn, as exposure to light may cause a dip in nitrate accumulation.

It is widely believed that nitrate is the key bioactive in beetroot, as it can be broken down into nitric oxide.

This plays a vital role in regulating vascular tone and glucose metabolism.

After ingestion, nitrate will be absorbed through the gut wall and transported to the blood plasma.

Around 60 to 75 percent of this nitrate is lost to excretion within 48 hours of consumption, but the remaining 25 percent will remain concentrated in saliva.

What’s more, the bacteria that live in the mouth will then turn the remaining nitrate into more nitrate.

Once the nitrate is turned into nitric oxide, it increases blood flow to various organs, which may have a viagra-like effect.

Increased blood flow also has a lowering effect on blood pressure.

Food safety guidelines advise against consuming too much beetroot because it may form nitrosamines, which have been linked to gastric cancers.

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