Over the years, various medicinal plants have been used and found potent in the area of traditional pharmacology from time immemorial. The healing power of medicinal plants (herbs) has been adopted as one of the oldest profession practiced by mankind. These medicinal plants contain both organic and inorganic constituents that makes them useful in the management of diabetes mellitus. The anti-diabetic properties they possess account for their hypoglycaemic efficacy.
Carica papaya popularly known as pawpaw is one of the potent plants traditionally used in diabetes management. The seed has been studied and element such as sodium, vanadium, zinc, potassium and chromium were found in the seed, and these element possesses hypoglycaemic abilities.
The bio active constituents in pawpaw are chymopapain and papain, and they are used in the treatment of digestive disorders and arthritis. Extracts from pawpaw fruits are also used for the treatment of ringworm, hypertension and malaria. The unripe pulp of papaya (pawpaw) has been found effective in glycaemic control with a recognizable therapeutic and less toxic side effect from both the nutritional and medical point of view. The use of unripe pawpaw in diabetes management is attributed to the following roles it plays;
1. Aids Weight Loss
The unripe pulp of Carica papaya when consumed regularly leads to weight loss, and this is an enhancement of its hypoglycaemic effects, due to fact that obesity is one of the predisposing conditions in certain types of diabetes. At the unripe state , Carica papaya usually soar to taste due to its high acidity, so it is usually eaten when cooked.
2. High Fibre Content
Since papaya is rich in fibre and water content, it is commonly consumed by patient with diabetes. Its high fibre content helps to improve blood glucose, insulin and lipid levels.
3. Filled with Antioxidant
Papaya been filled with antioxidants makes it a good diet plan for diabetics. The antioxidants present in papaya helps in preventing the body’s cell structure from deterioration. Most diabetics are believed to have higher risk of contracting cardiac (heart) aliments as a result of their fluctuating blood glucose level. The antioxidants present in papaya helps to prevent further damage to the cell thereby keeping the heart and nervous aliment on the low.
4. Low in Sugar Content
Papaya despite having a sweet taste is lower in sugar content. The glucose quotient of this fruit is relatively low, hence it is good for diabetics and in addition, papaya is easy to digest in the body.
5. Fuller Filling
Consuming unripe papaya on daily basis over time helps cut down the craving for junk or snacks in between meals. Intake of papa gives a fuller and satisfied sensation that can last to the next meal. In summary, having known that diabetes occurs when there is no insulin production or inadequate production of insulin by the pancreas to match the sugar metabolism in the blood, it is necessary to incorporate unripe papaya in the diet plan for diabetic. This is because this fruit in its unripe state has the ability to counteract the effect of diabetes due to its richness in vitamin A, C, and E and even some B complex vitamins; it is also rich in enzyme papain that facilitates the digestion processes, it is also a source of antioxidants and contains soluble fibre.
It is recommended that unripe papaya should be taken in small portion due to its high acidity, and should be mostly taken in the morning so as to have time to burn off the energy. Consumption should be accompanied by protein e.g yoghurt to reduce the risk of hyper-glycaemia. Consumption of unripe pawpaw is also good for the cardiovascular health as it helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) level in the blood, due to its richness in vitamin C, flavonoids and fibre, and also it helps to prevent the accumulation of fats in the arteries.
Having seen all these benefits of unripe papaya, it is not only helpful to the diabetics, but to everyone at large. But in everything, moderation is the key, consumption should be done in the right potions to obtain the maximum benefit without any complication.