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Claims drinking okra infused water will cure diabetes are ‘not true’

A message posted on Facebook in Nigeria claims that drinking water steeped with okra will make diabetes disappear quickly.

It describes the preparation process and the dosage, ending with: “After 2 weeks of use, appreciate the change in your health.”

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. It occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or does not effectively use the insulin it produces.

There are two types of diabetes, type 1 diabetes is characterised by a deficiency in insulin production while type 2 diabetes results from the body’s inability to effectively use insulin.

But can you treat diabetes by drinking okra-infused water? We checked.

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Preliminary studies in animals suggests okra may ‘help insulin function’

Okra pods and seeds have long been thought to help manage diabetes by traditional or herbal medicine, as reported by the magazine Diabetes Self-Management and the health platform Diabetes.co.uk

Both publications point to a number of scientific studies that have tested okra’s anti-diabetic properties in rats. 

These studies indicate that “okra may help insulin function or even act as a substitute for insulin”. It “also slows glucose from getting into the blood in the first place”, as some diabetes medication does, according to Diabetes Self-Management.

However, as is noted in one of the studies, published 2011: “To properly interpret these interesting findings, the study should be done using human subjects.” We could find no such studies. 

‘No cure for diabetes yet’

We asked Aihanuwa Eregie, a professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Benin in southwestern Nigeria, whether the claim made on  Facebook was valid. 

“No, this is not true. All we can do is control the sugar level because there is no cure for diabetes yet,” Eregie said.

“Diabetes is a chronic medical condition. Type 2 is the most common, not just in Nigeria but all over the world, while type 1 diabetes is less common. There are drugs available to manage the condition, and dietary management to help the patient maintain a balanced diet in order to control the blood sugar,” she added.

The World Health Organization says that “a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes”. 

There is no evidence eating okra or drinking okra-infused water is a cure for the disease in humans.

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