First, speak with your doctor — you should not start relying on plants or stop your medicines on your own. You’ll need to work closely with your diabetes health-care provider, and you’ll need to do some research and monitor yourself. Still, millions of people are using plant medicines, and a number of them have written to Diabetes Self-Management to tell us that they’re working.
Insulin is a hormone produced by cells in the pancreas called beta cells. Insulin helps the body use blood glucose (a type of sugar) for energy. People with type 2 diabetes do not make enough insulin and/or their bodies do not respond well to it, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Oral diabetes medications bring blood sugar levels into the normal range through a variety of ways.
With all of the nutrition information available today about improving blood sugar, it can be a bit daunting to know which information is correct and which is not. It is so important to look to what science-based evidence and research says about the subject. But even more, we need this science to be translated into easy to understand advice so that we can actually incorporate it into our lives and benefit from it. This is the most important factor.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors help control blood sugar levels by preventing the digestion of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include starchy foods like potatoes and corn. They also include most grains (bread, rice, crackers, cereal) and sugary sweets. The two medicines in this group are acarbose and miglitol. These medicines may cause bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and flatulence (gas).
The drug reduces the amount of glucose made by the liver, and is frequently prescribed because it has been found to help prevent many of the long-term complications of diabetes. Metformin is usually taken without another drug, usually at a dose of 500 milligrams (mg) a day, depending on the brand, to start. Doses are not to exceed 2,000 or 2,500 mg per day.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best herbs that lower blood sugar, along with a few spices thrown in, to give you a more comprehensive list. Please note that while we normally do not use animal studies to support any dietary supplement, several herbs like garlic and ginger are considered ‘food’ and so, are used traditionally by cultures across the world in their daily diet for their additional medical benefits. So human lab research studies on these are not always available. You can check all available studies under ‘References’ at the end of the article.
The reason the body stops producing insulin is that it kills off the pancreas’ beta cells, which produce insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must get their insulin from injections or ingestion, a cumbersome and often imprecise task. Too little insulin and blood sugar levels stay high for extended periods, potentially damaging the body; too much and blood sugar levels crash, possibly causing a person with diabetes to faint or experience an even worse problems, such as a stroke.
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If you have type 2 diabetes and your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 35, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Blood sugar levels return to normal in 55 to 95 percent of people with diabetes, depending on the procedure performed. Surgeries that bypass a portion of the small intestine have more of an effect on blood sugar levels than do other weight-loss surgeries.
If diagnosed at an early stage, diabetes can be controlled with some minor lifestyle changes. A person can straightaway keep a check on his/her diet and start exercising on a regular basis. At any stage of diabetes, however, lifestyle changes are required. Therefore, it is better to imbibe these changes in one's life as soon as one comes to know about this disease.
• The vegetable/fruit called bitter melon, bitter gourd, or karela seems to stop insulin resistance. It gets glucose into cells. You can cook with it (many Chinese recipes incorporate this ingredient), eat it raw, or juice it. You can get it at Asian markets or farmers’ markets, or sometimes in supermarkets. It can also be taken as capsules or a tea.
Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). Signs and symptoms of this life-threatening condition include a blood sugar reading higher than 600 mg/dL (33.3 mmol/L), dry mouth, extreme thirst, fever greater than 101 F (38 C), drowsiness, confusion, vision loss, hallucinations and dark urine. Your blood sugar monitor may not be able to give you an exact reading at such high levels and may instead just read "high."
Henry Cole, 67, from New Jersey, USA, did likewise. He saw a 20-second news clip on TV and took up the diet days later. He stuck rigidly to 600 calories daily from just protein (steak, chicken, turkey or fish) plus green veg, eating his one meal at 6pm most days, with coffee and calorie-counted cream for breakfast and 1.5 litres of water. His weight went down from 81kg to a stable 70kg on a now daily 1,500 cal diet, with his HbA1c level down to 5.6% from 6.9%.
Aside from the financial costs of diabetes, the more frightening findings are the complications and co-existing conditions. In 2014, 7.2 million hospital discharges were reported with diabetes as a listed diagnosis. Patients with diabetes were treated for major cardiovascular diseases, ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower-extremity amputation and diabetic ketoacidosis.
When cells are resistant to insulin, they don’t use the insulin effectively to bring the glucose from the bloodstream into the cell. The pancreas needs to produce more insulin to overcome this resistance in an effort to normalize blood sugar levels. When the pancreas can’t keep up with the insulin demands in a person with insulin resistance, that person develops diabetes.
Don’t let anyone discourage you! Your doctor may be skeptical and resist your efforts to cure yourself, but persevere! Worst case, put your doctor in touch with Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist who grew tired of simply controlling pain for his end stage kidney patients at the end of lives ravaged by diabetes, and decided to do something to help them thrive with the energy of a healthy life well-lived. Now follow the simple rules plainly and freely explained above and help yourself!