If you are someone who has struggled with the roller coaster of blood sugar management, I have some good news! Research shows that there are common herbs and spices, likely ones that you already have in your kitchen, that have some potential positive effects on improving blood sugar. Today, I’m breaking down some of the superstar herbs and spices that data has indicated may help with blood sugar management.
Known for its immune-boosting and disease-fighting benefits, this Chinese herb has several positive diabetes studies behind it. Researchers have found that ginseng slows carbohydrate absorption; increases cells’ ability to use glucose; and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas. A team from the University of Toronto has repeatedly demonstrated that ginseng capsules lower blood glucose 15 to 20 percent compared to placebo pills. These are the best superfoods for people with diabetes.
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The findings, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, show the cells grown in the lab can reduce blood glucose levels to normal. Professor Evans added: “It was a little bit of a surprise to see that beta cells produce a high level of this regulator, but beta cells have to release massive amounts of insulin quickly to control sugar levels. It’s a very energy-intensive process.”
Foods high in chromium: Chromium is a nutrient that’s involved in normal carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Foods high in chromium can improve the glucose tolerance factor in your body and naturally balance out blood glucose levels. It plays a role in insulin pathways, helping bring glucose into our cells so it can be used for bodily energy. Broccoli has the highest amounts of chromium, but you can also find it in raw cheese, green beans, brewer’s yeast and grass-fed beef. (10)
What’s critical is not necessarily the cutoff itself, but where someone falls within the ranges listed above. The level of risk of developing type 2 diabetes is closely related to A1c or FPG at diagnosis. Those in the higher ranges (A1c closer to 6.4%, FPG closer to 125 mg/dl) are much more likely to progress to type 2 diabetes, whereas those at lower ranges (A1c closer to 5.7%, FPG closer to 100 mg/dl) are relatively more likely to revert back to normal glucose levels or stay within the prediabetes range. Age of diagnosis and the level of insulin production still occurring at diagnosis also impact the chances of reverting to normoglycemia (normal blood sugar levels).
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps turn glucose into fuel for the body. It effectively improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, such as weakness, pain and numbness that’s caused by nerve damage. Although we make alpha lipoic acid and it can be found in some food sources, like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes, taking an ALA supplement will increase the amount that circulates in your body, which can be extremely beneficial when trying to reverse diabetes naturally. (17)
But is John “free of diabetes”? This is where the lines become blurred. Medically speaking, the term “cure” is usually associated with acute disease—a temporary medical condition, such as bacterial pneumonia, that can be cured with antibiotics. For diabetes, which is a chronic disease, it may be more accurate to use the term “remission” rather than cure. Particularly when considering the pathology associated with diabetes and the individual’s genetic predisposition, relapse is always possible. In a consensus statement issued by the ADA, the term remission is defined based on the following definitions:2
Refined sugar: Refined sugar rapidly spikes blood glucose, and soda, fruit juice and other sugary beverages are the worst culprits. These forms of sugar enter the bloodstream rapidly and can cause extreme elevations in blood glucose. (7) Even though natural sweeteners like raw honey and maple syrup are better options, they can still affect blood sugar levels, so only use these foods on occasion. Your best option is to switch to stevia, a natural sweetener that won’t have as much of an impact.
Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by elevated blood glucose levels due to defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance. For those people whose bodies resist insulin, the pancreas secretes extra insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. As the condition progresses, insulin production gradually decreases and eventually reaches a level of deficiency that can no longer maintain blood glucose in the normal range. But how type 2 diabetes presents and progresses can vary considerably, as noted by the ADA, and methods of treatment can vary from patient to patient.
How much the blood sugar level goes up after eating depends on the type of nutrients the food has. The three main types of nutrients found in foods are carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and fats, which provide energy in the form of calories. Foods containing carbs cause blood sugar levels to go up the most. Foods that are mostly protein and/or fat don't affect blood sugar levels nearly as much.
That is the goal of Imcyse, a French company running a clinical trial with an immunotherapy designed to stop type 1 diabetes. Patients that have been diagnosed within the last 6 months, who still retain some insulin-producing cells, are given a treatment designed to make the immune system destroy the specific immune cells that are attacking insulin-producing cells. Results are expected later this year and will reveal whether the treatment has the potential to become a cure.
Diabetes is a costly disease, placing a high financial burden on the patient and the healthcare system. If poorly managed or left untreated, it can cause blindness, loss of kidney function, and conditions that require the amputation of digits or limbs. The CDC reports that it’s also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
When evaluating patients with a chronic illness such as diabetes, TCM practitioners take a detailed, multi-system case history and supplement this information with observations that give information about the state of the patient’s health. These observations include the shape, color, and coating of the tongue; the color and expression of the face; the odor of the breath and body; and the strength, rhythm, and quality of the pulse. Many practitioners will palpate along meridians to detect points of tenderness that may indicate a blockage in the flow of Qi at that point.6
Taking a fish oil supplement can help improve markers of diabetes by reducing triglyceride levels and raising HDL cholesterol levels. Research published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences shows that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are necessary for proper insulin function, preventing insulin intolerance and reducing inflammation. (16) To use fish oil as a natural remedy for diabetes, take 1,000 milligrams daily.
Herbal products are not well controlled by government. They may not be what the bottle says they are. According to Rodale Press, research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian government both found that many combination herbal capsules contained NONE of the herbs listed on the label. That’s why I mainly recommend plants you can buy and use in their whole form, such as ginger, cinnamon, bitter melon, and okra.
The ideas contained on this website are for educational purposes only, and are not intended to treat any disease, nor as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. The information provided is not intended to serve as health, medical, or other professional advice related to individual situations. No therapeutic or medical claims are either implied or made. No particular results are guaranteed.
Magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in people with diabetes, and it can worsen high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels, but other studies have shown no benefit. Have your doctor check you for deficiency before supplementing with magnesium. These are signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously received this vaccine and you're an adult age 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
Neem tree leaves have ingredients and compounds that lower blood glucose considerably. This property of neem makes it an excellent home remedy for diabetes. A glassful of neem leaves' juice when consumed first thing in the morning can benefit considerably. Regular and prolonged consumption can even trigger production of insulin and subside diabetes completely.
Although the promises are big, these technologies are still far from the market. First, clinical trials will have to show they do work. Then, the price could be steep, as cell therapy precedents for other applications, such as oncology, come with price tags that reach the six figures and are finding difficulties to get reimbursed. Considering that compared to cancer, diabetes is not an immediately life-threatening disease, health insurers in some countries might be reluctant to cover the treatment.