Researchers, whose results were published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that over nine months, a daily dose of curcumin seemed to prevent new cases of diabetes among people with so-called prediabetes - abnormally high blood sugar levels that may progress to full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Curcumin is a compound in turmeric spice. Previous lab research has suggested it can fight inflammation and so - called oxidative damage to body cells. Those two processes are thought to feed a range of diseases, including type ۲ diabetes.

" Because of its benefits and safety, we propose that curcumin extract may be used for an intervention therapy for the prediabetes population, " wrote study leader Somlak Chuengsamarn of Srinakharinwirot University in Nakomnayok, Thailand.

The study included ۲۴۰ Thai adults with prediabetes who were randomly assigned to take either curcumin capsules or a placebo. The ones taking curcumin took six supplement capsules a day, each of which contained ۲۵۰ milligrams of " curcuminoids ".

After nine months, ۱۹ of the ۱۱۶ placebo patients had developed type ۲ diabetes. That compared with none of the ۱۱۹ patients taking curcumin.

The researchers found that the supplement seemed to improve the function of beta - cells, which are cells in the pancreas that release the blood sugar - regulating hormone insulin. They speculate that the anti - inflammatory effects of curcumin help protect beta - cells from damage.

But a diabetes expert not involved in the study said it ' s still too early for people to head to the health food store for curcumin supplements.

" This looks promising, but there are still a lot of questions, " said Constance Brown - Riggs, a certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The trial lasted only nine months, and it ' s already known from longer - lasting, larger trials that lifestyle changes - - including calorie - cutting and exercise - - can prevent or delay type ۲ diabetes in people with prediabetes.

Brown - Riggs added that consumers can ' t be sure that a product actually contains the ingredients, or the amount of ingredient, listed on the label.

"If I was talking to a patient about this, I'd say concentrate on eating healthy and overall lifestyle," she said.