Overview of food products and dietary constituents with antidiabetic properties and their putative mechanisms of action: A natural approach to complement pharmacotherapy in the management of diabetes

Authors

  • Isabelle M. E. Lacroix,

    1. Faculty of Land & Food Systems, Food Nutrition & Health Program, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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  • Eunice C. Y. Li-Chan

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Land & Food Systems, Food Nutrition & Health Program, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    • Correspondence: Professor Eunice C. Y. Li-Chan, Faculty of Land & Food Systems, Food Nutrition & Health Program, The University of British Columbia, 2205 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

      E-mail: Eunice.Li-Chan@ubc.ca

      Fax: +1-604-822-5143

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Abstract

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing chronic, noncommunicable diseases worldwide. Currently, 11 major classes of pharmacotherapy are available for the management of this metabolic disorder. However, the usage of these drugs is often associated with undesirable side effects, including weight gain and hypoglycemia. There is thus a need for new, safe and effective treatment strategies. Diet is known to play a major role in the prevention and management of diabetes. Numerous studies have reported the putative association of the consumption of specific food products, or their constituents, with the incidence of diabetes, and mounting evidence now suggests that some dietary factors can improve glycemic regulation. Foods and dietary constituents, similar to synthetic drugs, have been shown to modulate hormones, enzymes, and organ systems involved in carbohydrate metabolism. The present article reviews the major classes and modes of action of antidiabetic drugs, and examines the evidence on food products and dietary factors with antidiabetic properties as well as their plausible mechanisms of action. The findings suggest potential use of dietary constituents as a complementary approach to pharmacotherapy in the prevention and/or management of diabetes, but further research is necessary to identify the active components and evaluate their efficacy and safety.

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