A unique study on effectiveness of yoga and fenugreek in preventing diabetes that was carried out simultaneously in seven cities across the country holds the potential for discovery of a lifestyle that could help people diabetic people find new ways of managing the disease.

The multi-centric, randomised and controlled trial — of the effect of yoga and seeds of the annual plant in diabetes patients — was carried out as part of the Indian Prevention of Diabetes Study (IPDS). Noted physician Dr. Arvind Gupta selected about 50 participants in Jaipur to test the efficacy of a new lifestyle accompanied by the intake of fenugreek.

Within eight months, Dr. Gupta, a member of the research committee of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India, found encouraging results. The participants, who were not on any medication, reported an improved quality of life.

Besides Jaipur, the study was carried out in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Puducherry and Thiruvananthapuram. In all these places, volunteers, aged 30 years or above, performed regular yoga and consumed the prescribed quantity of fenugreek seeds twice a day.

Dr. Gupta told The Hindu that the study would help reveal the properties of fenugreek seeds that could prevent diabetes mellitus type-2, a long-term metabolic disorder.

Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fibre, which helps reduce blood sugar by slowing down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

The study will also look into claims that yoga can effectively reverse the mechanism that causes diabetes. Dr. Gupta said regular yoga practice by the participants was keeping their weight as well as blood pressure under check.

Undiagnosed, untreated

In his earlier studies, Dr. Gupta — at present, the director at Jaipur Diabetes Research Centre — found that more than a quarter of patients with diabetes in the urban India remained undiagnosed and the status of control among them was low.

“As the cities move away from economic and social deprivation, there is [a] greater prevalence of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Behavioural risk factors such as smoking, smokeless tobacco use, low fruits and vegetables intake and high visible fat intake indicate that our urban populations are facing a chronic disease transition,” he said.

Dr. Gupta is a recipient of several prestigious awards and has edited the Journal of Association of Physicians of India in the past. He has received fellowships from the Indian College of Physicians and the Madras Science Foundation.