Diabetics are encouraged to consume more fruits and other plant-based food because of their low glycemic index, which is made possible by fructose and fiber. Unknown to the vast majority of diabetics, however, is the fact that there is more worth knowing about plant-based food than just a low-carbohydrate food. Many foods can have a harmful affect on otherwise helpful Type 2 diabetes medication.
Some plant-based food, when taken with diabetes drugs, can negatively affect liver’s pace of breaking down of the active ingredients present in the medication. This can significantly lower or increase blood sugar level.
The liver is a multipurpose organ with functions that range from detoxification to production of chemical compounds essential for the process of digestion. The National Cancer Institute linked obesity and diabetes to approximately 21,000 men and 7000 women in the country who may develop liver cancer in 2012.
Below is a list of diabetes drugs with functions that can be hampered by an array of plant-based food.
1. Pioglitazone (Actos). Pioglitazone is discharged from the body by the action of liver enzyme CYP2C8. Pomegranate juice primarily obstructs CYP2C8 bodily function. Moreover, pomegranate juice is loaded with sugar (a glass of pomegranate juice = 30 grams of sugar) that can be equaled to a serving size of a cola or double portion of sweetened cereal. Pomegranate juice also interacts with some cholesterol-lowering drugs usually prescribed to Type 2 diabetics. Side effects of diabetes drugs containing pioglitazone can be severe. For instance, the risk of Actos bladder cancer increases the longer the drug is taken. It is unclear if eating certain foods while taking the drug will increase the risk even further.
2. Sulfonylureas. These diabetes drugs are taken to induce the release of insulin from the pancreas. They are processed by the liver enzyme called cytochrome P450 (CYP). CYP is the body’s leading drug metabolizer. It accounts for around 75 percent of the total drug metabolism performed by the body. Grapefruits and some citrus juices rich in bergamottin, dihydroxibergamottin, and paradicin-A can hinder CYP3A4 in performing its function. CYP3A4 is a member of CYP family responsible for most xenobiotic metabolism. This means that when you take sulfonylureas with grapefruit, the body will digest them at a slower pace, resulting in a higher concentration of the drugs, an increased release of insulin from the pancreas, and a startling drop in blood sugars, which may lead to a severe case of hypoglycemia.
3. Metformin (Glucophage). Metformin is a diabetic drug, which is excreted out of the body through the kidney. It is not processed by the liver. Metformin is a food-proof drug as far as the effect of plant-based naturally occurring compounds are concerned.
4. Rosiglitazone (Avandia). Like pioglitazone, rosiglitazone is also excreted out of the body through the metabolic function of enzyme CYP2C8. Likewise, the drug’s side effects are amplified when taken with pomegranate juice.
5. Sitagliptin (Januvia). Sitagliptin is processed by the liver enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2C8. Fruits and fruit juices, which can interfere with the metabolic functions of CYP3A4 and CYP2C8 include grapefruit, passion fruit, pomegranate, dragon fruit, wild grape, wild mulberry, starfruit, pawpaw, rambutan, kiwi, and even orange and mango.
6. Vildagliptin (Galvus). Like Sulfonylureas, Vildagliptin is broken down to a limited extent by cytochrome P450. Grapefruit, ginger, licorice, and hot peppers have a slight negative impact on the drug’s blood sugar lowering effects.
A doctor may suggest a meeting with a nutritionist to evaluate a patient’s risk for harmful food effects on their Type 2 diabetes medication. It is alway important to follow the proper dietary protocol with any medication.