A centuries-old ‘superfood’ as a treatment for diabetes

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August 10, 2021 – If asked to think of a camel, many will invariably conjure up the iconic image of a humpback animal crossing the horizon in a burning desert. What they probably won’t think of is a glass of cold milk.

But that may soon change, thanks to research uncovering the surprising therapeutic potential in camel milk. While this may seem unusual to many in the Western world, where camel milk remains an obscure dairy product, it would hardly deserve a second thought among those who know these tough workhorses best.

“The beneficial effects of camel milk on human nutrition and health have their origin in the religious beliefs and faith within the various Muslim communities of the world, including the Arab countries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates”, said Mohammed Ayoub, PhD, associate professor. of biology, and Sajid Maqsood, PhD, associate professor of food science at the University of the United Arab Emirates, said in a joint interview.

For the people of these and other regions where camels thrive, their milk has long been a staple food source, usually consumed fresh or spontaneously fermented, which looks like yogurt. It has also been used for centuries as a traditional treatment for diseases ranging from tuberculosis to gastroenteritis.

Numerous studies have since revealed that camel milk many sought-after properties of so-called “superfoods”. It’s “anti” in the most positive ways: antihypertensive, anti-microbial, and is an antioxidant.
But what has caught the researchers’ attention the most are the favorable effects that camel milk seems to exhibit. in animal and clinical studies on various markers of diabetes, from blood sugar control to insulin resistance. Could this folk remedy have new lessons for the contemporary treatment of diabetes?

What is the particularity of camel milk?

Camels have been domesticated about 3000 to 4000 years ago, which is relatively recent in draft animals (by comparison, dogs have been part of human families for at least 14,000 years). Thanks to a host of unique adaptations, including the ability to store around 80 lbs (36.3 kg) of fat in these iconic bumps, camels can travel 100 miles and survive for almost a week in temperatures up to 120 ° F (49 ° C) without water.

Among the class of animals that ferment their food before digestion, camels get the most out of the least. They consume the widest variety of plants and digest it more efficiently than cows. Nomadic peoples considered the diverse diet of camels a key contributor to the supposed medicinal value of their milk.

Significant scientific research into the properties of camel milk has only started in the last three to four decades. He revealed that at the most basic level, milk produced from camels and cows provides comparable levels fat, protein, lactose and calcium. But dig a little deeper and you will find that camel milk has distinct advantages compared to its bovine counterpart, including higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals, and more digestible quality.

Children with a known allergy to cow’s milk have been shown to consume camel milk without incidentbecause it does not appear to cause the same problems in these patients as milk from non-bovine mammals reared in European countries. In fact, camel milk is actually closer in substance to human milk: both have the same main protein and are missing a common contributor to milk allergies.

Beyond its nutritional value, the composition of camel milk may offer particular anti-diabetic properties, according to Nader Lessan, MD, and Adam Buckley, MD, endocrinologists at the Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, who leads a clinical trial on the effects of camel milk on the insulin response.

A recent laboratory study d’Ayoub and Maqsood shed light on the effects of camel milk on diabetes.

Getting the most out of camel milk

People living in countries with easy access to camel milk are probably already reaping the benefits. For example, a study of a camel herding community in northern India found that those who regularly consumed her milk had a 0% rate of diabetes.

Global camel milk production has multiplied by 4.6 since 1961 (when data began to be collected), indicating that its popularity is spreading beyond traditional regions. The efforts supported by the European Union such as the CAMELMILK project aim to stimulate interest in the Mediterranean region. More and more consumers, China To Australia, are looking for camel milk products. In the United States, companies like Desert Farms are partnership with Amish and Mennonite farmers to increase production.

This doesn’t mean that camel milk will soon be on supermarket shelves. Although their numbers are increasing, camels remain a minor dairy species, accounting for less than 1% of world milk production. As a niche product, it is significantly more expensive than the cow’s milk and non-dairy milk variants. Daily dose of camel milk believed to improve diabetes markers is about 16 ounces, which may be too expensive for many consumers.

There are also uncertainties as to the consistency of the benefits of camel milk in commercial form. The quality of camel milk varies depending on factors such as lactation stage, geography and eating habits. Some have wondered whether the movement of camels from their diversified feeding practices to factory farming will mitigate the medicinal effects of its milk.

The type of camel that produces the milk may also matter. Milk produced by 90% of camels in the world classified as one-humped It’s not the same thing like that produced from the less common double-humped camels found in Central Asian countries, such as China and Mongolia

Advice for curious patients

Ultimately, camel milk may offer the greatest promise as a model for the design of new treatments, conclude Ayoud and Maqsood in their recent study.

Yet curious patients are also likely to want to try the real thing in the meantime. For them, what considerations should they keep in mind?

First and foremost is to avoid camel milk in raw form. Although camel milk seems to have antimicrobial properties superior to those of cow’s milk, he is wearing about the same risk contain E coli and may harbor pathogenic strains like strep or staphylococcus. Evidence suggests that one-humped camels are the only animals that can harbor the strain of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that infects humans.

Although several studies reported that camel milk improves blood sugar control and reduces insulin requirements in people with type 1 diabetes, Lessan and Buckley strongly advise patients with this disease not to use it as an insulin substitute. They note that “none of the mechanisms we have seen suggested for the effects of camel milk are really applicable to the pathological process of type 1 diabetes.”

There is also the issue of setting appropriate expectations for conditions other than diabetes. Research on camel milk is geared towards positive results from studies of varying quality, which has led to unfounded claims. This was exposed when the FDA camel milk listed among products and therapies without any evidence to support their use in autism.

As the use of camel milk moves from basic research to clinical studies, its ultimate therapeutic value in diabetes and beyond is expected to become clearer. For a millennial treatment, there is still a lot to learn.

Medscape Medical News

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