Claim: Drinking okra water first thing in the morning treats diabetes.
The claim that drinking okra water first thing in the morning treats diabetes is misleading as it is yet to be scientifically and medically proven.
On August 1, 2021, a Facebook user Aramide health tips posted a claim that “drinking okra water first thing in the morning treated diabetes”.
In the post, it was claimed that okra contains insulin-like properties, which are beneficial for the treatment of diabetes. Okra water helps to reduce the sugar level in the blood.
Meanwhile, some people have suggested that drinking okra water helps lessen diabetes symptoms. The drink is made by putting okra pods in water and soaking them overnight. Some of the valuable nutrients in the skin and seed pods will be absorbed by the water.
What is Okra?
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus Hibiscus esculentus Linn) known by some as lady’s fingers or gumbo is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is an annual herb that is widely cultivated for its edible green seed pods in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates.
Okra is also a good source of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber; it contains a sticky juice that people use to thicken sauces. It is an essential crop in many countries due to its high nutritional value. Also, people can use many parts of the plant including the fresh leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stems and seeds.
Nutritional Components of Okra
According to the U.S department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of raw okra, weighing 100 grams (g) contains:
1.9 grams of protein
0.2 grams of fat
7.5 grams of carbohydrates
3.2 grams of fiber
1.5 grams of sugar
31.3 milligrams (mg) of vitamin K
299 milligrams of potassium
7 milligrams of sodium
23 milligrams of vitamin C
0.2 milligrams of thiamin
57 milligrams of magnesium
82 milligrams of calcium
0.215 milligrams of vitamin B6
60 micrograms (mcg) of folate
36 micrograms of vitamin A
Okra also provides some iron, niacin, phosphorus and copper.
Generally, Okra is a high-value crop because it represents a source of nutrients that are important to human health, e.g., vitamins, potassium, calcium and unsaturated fatty acids such as (inolenic and oleic acids) among others.
However, evidence of okra having anti-diabetic properties has increased in recent years with multiple vito (laboratory) and vivo (animal) studies confirming okra as a potent blood glucose-lowering (or anti diabetic) food.
And one of such is a Facebook post by Aramide health tips claiming that “drinking okra water first thing in the morning treats diabetes”.
What are diabetics?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces and insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
The various types of diabetes include: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, monogenic diabetes and cystic fibrosis related diabetes. Over time, having too much glucose in one’s blood can cause serious problems. It can damage the eyes, kidneys and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb.
A Nutritionist, Tolu Arowolo, said it is a well known fact that okra has good nutritional value as a vegetable, but nothing has been ascertained yet about its insulin-like properties.
She said, “Although, I have heard the claim that drinking okra water in the morning treats diabetes, what nutritionists are aware of is that it is a good vegetable with high nutritional value.”
A medical practitioner, Dr. Ademola Ayodele, said the claim that diabetes can be treated by drinking okra in the morning is medically not feasible.
According to him, “Medically, such a claim is not only doubtful but can be easily argued against. First, we need to understand what causes diabetes, it is said to be a relative or absolute lack of insulin. Now, okra is not going to reduce insulin, so how will it treat diabetes?”
“Perhaps, if explored further, there may be some benefits in terms of managing the complications, but the main treatment for now remains, either the production or supplement of insulin or to have a drug that will make the insulin which is in the body to be more effective. So, that claim can never be approved by any medical practitioner.”
A Consultant Endocrinologist with the University of Science Teaching Hospital, Ondo (UNIMED), Dr Adenike Enikuomehin, said the claim that drinking okra water in the morning treats diabetes is false as it is yet to be scientifically proven.
She said, “No, if you take green okra, it is good for you as a vegetable, but it does not treat or cure diabetes and that’s why we have so many complications of diabetes coming to us in the hospitals. Because, they would follow things they see online and later this leads to complications.”
“And so, there is nothing like that, scientifically that claim is yet to be proven and there is nothing like such medically. I will advise that people don’t do this, so as to avoid presenting themselves in the hospitals with eye, kidney and heart complications among others. The claim that drinking okra water treats diabetes is false.”
The claim that drinking okra water first thing in the morning treats diabetes is misleading as it is yet to be proven medically and scientifically that okra has properties that can be used to treat diabetes.
The researcher produced this fact check article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Crest FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.