The effectiveness of sorghum in combating diabetes

(Last Updated On: 9 May 2024)

Soroti | Those suffering from diseases such as diabetes face the daunting task of obtaining treatment amidst economic hardships.

According to the International Diabetes Foundation, an estimated 716,000 Ugandan adults had diabetes in 2021. Approximately 89% of Ugandans with diabetes are not on medication or aware of their condition, and thus present to the health system with difficult-to-treat complications.

Insulin, other injectable medications, and/or oral medications (pills) can all be used to treat diabetes. Insulin is always required for those with type 1 diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes typically require oral diabetes medications such as metformin (biguanide), sulphonylureas, prandial glucose regulators, thiazolidinediones (glitazones), alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, and others for several or even many years, but may eventually require insulin to maintain blood glucose control.

For the 2021–2022 fiscal year, the Ministry of Health received shs3.331 trillion. In 2022, up to shs2.2 trillion was spent on medication, treatment, and management of type 2 diabetes complications.

However, prior to modern medical treatment, one may wonder how people historically combated illness using natural remedies provided by nature.

The mighty sorghum plant is a beacon of hope and an age-old remedy.

John Emanio, a Research Technician specialising in dryland cereal crops at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in Nassari Institute, Serere district, advocates for sorghum consumption to combat diseases such as diabetes.

Also read: Lira City’s Dr. Aceng talks health and household income

In an interview with tndNews, Emanio emphasised the benefits of incorporating sorghum into one’s diet, whether in the form of bread, porridge, or a corn-based nutrition supplement.

Emanio emphasised cereals’ high nutritional value when discussing nutritional aspects. For example, the millet he mentions contains essential minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium.

Similarly, sorghum is high in zinc, potassium, and other minerals with therapeutic properties, which are commonly used in the production of health-promoting syrups.

Emanio shared insights from local communities, where women are traditionally given sorghum-based porridge after childbirth, which is thought to relieve stomach pains and has been passed down through generations.

Furthermore, he mentioned sorghum’s anti-aging properties, which are said to reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate ageing skin, giving it a more youthful appearance, as well as help regulate blood sugar levels.

Addressing the issue of diabetes, Emanio emphasised sorghum’s suitability for diabetic patients, citing its potential in preventing liver cirrhosis due to its red-seeded variety, which resembles the liver.

Also read: Scientists call for investment in climate change and health nexus research in Africa

Recognising its value, NARO created Sesso One, a sorghum variety that can be popped like corn and is specifically designed for diabetics, pregnant women, children and HIV patients.

It can also be combined with other foods such as maize, cowpea, choroko, muck bean, or green gramme to create composite flour that meets a variety of dietary needs.

Emanio also emphasised the importance of adopting healthier eating habits, advocating for more consumption of grains such as sorghum, millet, and palm millet in order to foster a healthier population.

He attributes many health issues to poor nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Dr. John Junior Angiro, the Disease Surveillance Focal Point Person and Health Educator at Moru-Apesur Health Centre III in Soroti City East Division, describes sorghum as a nutrient-dense grain that can be used in a variety of applications.

It is high in vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. It is also rich in fibre, antioxidants, and protein.

Sorghum also contains some of the essential and non-essential amino acids, mainly alanine (7.34-9.62 g/100 g), aspartic acid (4.83-7.06 g/100 g), glutamic acid (17.5-28.12 g/100 g), leucine (12.02-14.48 g/100 g), phenylalanine (4.03-5.62 g/100 g), proline (6.66-12.34 g/100 g), and valine (4.22-6.86 g/100 g),

According to Angiro, sorghum is particularly effective at improving brain memory, weight management, blood pressure regulation, and providing antioxidant benefits.

Sorghum’s nutrient-rich composition addresses issues that can affect heart health, brain function, and overall bodily well-being, making it especially advantageous for patients with diabetes.

By Robert Edwomu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *