Background: The increasing prevalence of reported cases of diabetes has evidently become a major global public health concern. Although, diabetes management is possible by the administration of synthetic anti-diabetic agents, there are profound side-effects associated with their long-term usage. Hence there is a demand for safer alternatives which could be possibly formulated using specific yet common phytonutrients.
Objectives: The main objective of this review is to describe the cellular mechanisms of phytonutrients as an alternative to commercially available synthetic anti-diabetic agents in the management of diabetes and related complications. Furthermore, the clinical evidence that supports this view is also highlighted.
Methodology: An in-depth review of published literature was carried out to identify the most promising phytonutrients in the management of diabetes and related complications.
Results: A number of phytonutrients are reported to be potential anti-diabetic agents. Few examples include biguanides, resveratrol, lycopene, thymoquinone and quercetin. However, suitable formulations using these phytonutrients and their clinical trials are still underway. Most of the reported findings focus on one aspect of several biochemical processes e.g. enhancement of glucose utilization, anti-oxidation, induction of insulin production, antiglycation etc. An in-depth study of phytonutrients with respect to functional, immunological as well as biochemical factors suggesting their efficacy, as well as safety in the management of diabetes, is rarely reported.
Conclusion: Our study thus highlights the abundance of clinical evidence of the efficiency of phytonutrients, and at the same time, the scarcity of clinically approved and marketed phytonutrients, as drugs, for the management of diabetes and related complications.