Scientists in the UK have found that drinking black tea could help prevent diabetes. The report, which is published in the latest issue of the journal
, indicates that certain constituents of tea could act as an insulin substitute, potentially able to combat type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.
Diabetes develops when the body fails to make enough insulin. Researchers at Scotland's Dundee University found that several black tea constituents, known as theaflavins and thearubigins, mimicked insulin action, the BBC online reported.
"What we have found is that these constituents can mimic insulin action on proteins known as foxos," said Dr Graham Rena, the leader of the research team. Diabetes can cause many complications.
Acute complications (hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis or nonketotic hyperosmolar coma) may occur if the disease is not adequately controlled. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease (doubled risk), chronic renal failure, retinal damage (which can lead to blindness), nerve damage (of several kinds), and microvascular damage, which may cause impotence and poor healing.
"The task now is to see whether we can translate these findings into something useful for human health," Dr Rena said. However, underlining the need for further research, he warned: "People should not be rushing to drink masses of black tea thinking it will cure them of diabetes."
"We are still some way from this leading to new treatments or dietary advice," he said. In the developed world, diabetes is the most significant cause of adult blindness in the non-elderly and the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation in adults.