Being the country with the second-highest population of diabetics in the world, it is safe to say that India has a Diabetes mellitus problem. Aggressive urbanization and rapid lifestyle changes have brought with them the undesirable concomitant. Along with a regular regimen of medications and exercise, diet plays a crucial role in its management. Now, a new study has found that the inclusion of green jackfruit flour in a regular diet can help in the controlling of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

According to the multi-institutional study by Indian researchers, substituting an equal volume of wheat flour or rice in daily meals is considerably effective in lowering the blood plasma glucose levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The study which was published in the journal Nature-Nutrition & Diabetes stated that green jackfruit flour medical nutrition therapy

"Green jackfruit is a good source of fiber, has fewer calories, and in flour form makes it easy to include in a variety of daily food like roti, porridge, or pancakes as part of MNT for T2DM without changing eating habits," the authors wrote.

A Chronic Disease

Blood sugar levels (Representational Picture)Pixabay

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that is characterized by increased levels of blood glucose. This chronic elevation of blood sugar levels eventually results in severe damage to eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves. It has two forms—Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes) and Type 2 diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes).

Type 1 diabetes is marked by a deficiency in insulin production. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body's inefficient utilization of insulin (which often is a result of physical inactivity and being overweight). According to the WHO, 422 million people across the world are afflicted with the condition, with 1.6 million deaths reported every year that is directly associated with the condition.

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a tropical tree that broadly grows across several Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India, and Malaysia. It belongs to the family Moraceae which includes other plants of commercial and nutritional importance such as breadfruit, fig, and mulberry. Jack fruit is said to contain numerous compounds that can help alleviate several diseases such as heart diseases and high blood pressure. It also contains salts and other micronutrients that have wide-ranging health benefits.

Evaluating Efficacy of Jackfruit Flour

Jackfruit (Representational Picture)Pixabay

Through the randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study, the authors intended to test the efficacy of Jackfruit365 green jackfruit flour—a patented product manufactured from mature green unripe jackfruits of India grown in India—as an essential part of the daily diet in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.  A total of 40 participants were enrolled into two groups of 20 members each and were evaluated from May 2019 and February 2020.

Group A received 30 g/day of jackfruit flour and Group B received placebo flour, daily (for breakfast and dinner) for 12 weeks, where an equal volume of wheat flour and rice was replaced.  The mean change in the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) was the primary endpoint. Mean changes in lipid profile, body weight, postprandial plasma glucose (PPG), and fasting plasma glucose (FPG) were other endpoints of the study.

Potential of Indian Diet In Diabetes Management

At the end of the study period, the scientists observed a significantly higher reduction in HbA1c in Group A when compared to Group B from baseline to week 12. It was also found that mean change in FPG and PPG was significantly higher in Group A than that of Group B (i.e) there was a marked reduction in the levels of FPG and PPG in Group A. Additionally, continued monitoring of glucose showed a decrease in mean blood glucose during 7 days of prescribing jackfruit flour.

The results, thereby, emphasized the efficacy of jackfruit flour in controlling the glycemic condition as a medical nutrition therapy. Talking about the ease of inclusion of jackfruit flour in daily diet, Dr. A. Gopal Rao, co-lead author of the study, told PTI, "Intervention was culturally sensitive and integrated into traditional home-cooked foods like roti and idli. This helped to achieve a high degree of adherence to the intervention for a full HbA1c cycle of three months."

Dr. A. G. Unnikrishnan, co-lead of the author, noted that the study is a major scientific development in diabetes "from India for India", and that these results could help in the furtherance of research about traditional Indian diet. "I hope that the findings of this research translate into better use of medical nutrition therapy in Type 2 diabetes care in India," Dr. Unnikirshinan told PTI