Next time you visit a diabetic friend, gift him apples and onions. It might just help your friend fight and delay the usual medical complications related to heart, eyes and nerves that most diabetics suffer from during the later stages of the ailment.
A team of biochemists from the Allahabad University (AU) led by Dr SI Rizvi has found that Myricetin - a naturally occurring plant polyphenol found in large quantity in apples and onions - can protect diabetic red blood cells (RBCs) from the damaging effects of oxidative stress and increase anti-oxidant defence in Type 2 diabetics thereby delaying the development of diabetic complications.
The discovery has been reported in a prestigious international journal's December 2009 edition as 'Myricetin can mitigate altered redox status in type 2 diabetic erythrocytes'.
"For the common man, diabetes is a condition which is manifested by high glucose level. While the elevated glucose level can be managed by many different drugs or lifestyle changes, the basic condition of the diabetes still remains," said Dr Rizvi.
He said that at the genetic level, there are many causes, which can result in the diabetic condition. To treat this complex disease is therefore not easy. "One of the basic alterations during diabetes is the condition of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress which has been implicated in the development of several late complications of diabetes such as neuropathy (affecting nerves), vascular complication affecting the blood vessels and the heart, retinopathy (affecting the eyes) and the problem of kidneys," he added.
The biochemist said that a strategy for controlling oxidative stress as a result of diabetes was to use dietary supplements, which are high in natural anti-oxidants and the compound 'Myricetin' has been found to offset the increased oxidative stress in diabetic conditions. "Our study, part of a research in the use of plant polyphenols as possible supplementation for diabetic patients, has shown that several parameters which are also very good biomarkers of oxidative stress in human RBC (erythrocytes) are altered during diabetic condition.
"Using a strategy to induce oxidative stress in erythrocytes for both normal and diabetic patients, we found that 'Myricetin' is able to protect diabetic erythrocytes from the damaging effects of oxidative stress. Based on this interesting observation, it is hypnotised that food sources that containing 'Myricetin' can increase anti-oxidant defence in Type 2 diabetes and delay the development of diabetic complications," he added.