Dr Xin Xiao, a Chinese national who graduated with a PhD in biochemistry, has observed the antioxidative and antidiabetic potential in five different brands of tea indigenous to both his country and South Africa for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Picture: Supplied
Dr Xin Xiao, a Chinese national who graduated with a PhD in biochemistry, has observed the antioxidative and antidiabetic potential in five different brands of tea indigenous to both his country and South Africa for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Picture: Supplied

UKZN PhD graduate Xin Xiao identifies tea as possible treatment for diabetes

By Jehran Naidoo Time of article published May 28, 2021

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DURBAN - A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate from South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has identified how tea could be used as a treatment for diabetes.

Dr Xin Xiao, a Chinese national who graduated with a PhD in Biochemistry, has observed the antioxidative and antidiabetic potential in five different brands of tea indigenous to his country and South Africa for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, UKZN said in a statement dated Thursday.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by the body’s cells. Insulin is used to convert sugar from the bloodstream into energy.

According to an article published in the South African Medical Journal, the International Diabetes Federation reported in 2019 that there were an estimated 4.5 million adults living with diabetes in South Africa.

It said the African continent was expected to see the highest increase in diabetes globally by 2045.

“Diabetes mellitus is one of the global epidemics of the 21st century,” Xin said via the UKZN statement.

“The effectiveness of Chinese teas and South African teas in the management and treatment of Type 2 diabetes has been reported. With the demand for alternative therapies due to the deficiencies found in antidiabetic synthetic drugs, there is a need to do more research with teas.”

The interest in using tea as a treatment for diabetes came after Xin’s father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes ten years ago, giving him an inside look at how difficult it was to treat such a disease.

His admission to UKZN followed a stint as a Chinese language teacher at the Confucius Institute of the Durban University of Technology from 2014 to 2017.

“At that time, I was also looking for an available PhD position and happened to know that Professor Shahidul Islam was working on type 2 diabetes, which is the exact research field I was interested in,” Xin said.

“I wanted to do something good for my father and others who have diabetes like him.”

The results deriving from Xin’s research indicate promising anti-T2D properties, which supports the use of functional foods in the treatment of the disease, Professor Islam said.

“This research will help diabetics to choose improved antidiabetic teas and develop tea-based food supplements,” he added.

Xin has since returned to China to continue his research on tea and human health.

“Hopefully this will help people to improve management of their health conditions in both China and South Africa. I love South Africa, I love UKZN. Thank you for fulfilling my dreams and giving me wonderful memories,” he said.

– African News Agency

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