While there is no consensus yet on just what type of diet is best for people with type 2 diabetes to follow, there is overwhelming evidence that being active is one of the best things you can do to control your condition. The National Institutes of Health’s landmark Look AHEAD trials, which sought to establish whether intensive lifestyle modifications could affect diabetes outcomes, found that when participants lowered the amount of fat in their diet and increased their physical activity to 150 minutes a week, they reduced their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
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.
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It was the same endorsement the first Diabetes Surgery Summit, also organized by Cummings in 2007, had made, but the landscape had changed since then. In addition to more accumulated research, this time, their stance was backed by over 50 international professional organizations, including the American Diabetes Association. And while other medical societies and organizations had long backed surgery as an option for diabetes, the DSS-II guidelines are the first meant to guide clinical practice.
Magnesium deficiency is common in diabetic patients, as magnesium can be lost in the urine with hyperglycemia. A study in Diabetes Care reported that low magnesium status is common in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and showed that when low-magnesium Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients were given an oral dose of magnesium daily for sixteen weeks, the mineral reduced insulin resistance, fasting glucose, and A1C levels.
Qigong (pronounced “chi gong”) is literally translated as “function of Qi.” It emphasizes the connection between the mind and body. It is a meditative method that consists of breathing techniques that can be combined with body movements in order to regulate, harness, and enhance Qi. Qigong is used as a means of promoting health, healing, spiritual growth, and overall well-being. While Qigong is not typically used as a major treatment modality for diabetes, it has been found to be a valuable adjunctive therapy for this condition. There are specific Qigong exercises for diabetes.15
Diabetes is classically divided into three types: upper, middle, and lower Xiao-ke. Each has characteristic symptoms. The upper type is characterized by excessive thirst, the middle by excessive hunger, and the lower by excessive urination. These types are closely associated with the lungs, stomach, and kidneys, respectively, and all three are associated with Yin deficiency. At some point during the course of their illness, most people with diabetes manifest symptoms of all three types.
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Called ALA for short, this vitamin-like substance neutralizes many types of free radicals. A build-up of free radicals, caused in part by high blood sugar, can lead to nerve damage and other problems. ALA may also help muscle cells take up blood sugar. In a German study, a team of scientists had 40 adults take either an ALA supplement or a placebo. At the end of the four-week study, the ALA group had improved their insulin sensitivity 27 percent. The placebo group showed no improvement. Other studies have shown a decrease in nerve pain, numbness, and burning.
A popular spice used in Indian cooking, and the main ingredient of ‘curry’ that has taken the world by storm, turmeric has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that all come together to help diabetics manage more stable blood sugar levels. It helps boost immunity and prevent infections that diabetics are often vulnerable to. Studies conducted on rats prove that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is effective in reducing plasma glucose level and HbA1C as well as improving the lipid profile. Many diabetics also suffer from arthritis, since the sugar laden blood and inflammatory processes typical to diabetes often damage joints. Turmeric, with its anti-inflammatory abilities, also helps with these joint pains.
Can prediabetes be “cured”? In the early stages of prediabetes (and type 2 diabetes), diligent attention to food choices and activity, and most importantly weight loss, can improve blood sugar numbers, effectively “reversing” the disease and reducing the odds of developing type 2 diabetes. However, some people may have underlying factors (such as family history and genetics) that put them at a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, meaning they will always require careful attention to blood sugar levels and lifestyle choices. Returning to old habits will likely put someone back on the road to prediabetes, and eventually, type 2 diabetes.
If I could only prescribe one supplement for a diabetes patient, I would prescribe R-alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help reduce insulin resistance and has been shown to protect people with diabetes from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. R-ALA can prevent glycosylation of proteins, which reduces the A1C level. It is safe, although very rarely it can cause stomach upset. Alpha-lipoic acid is listed either as ALA or R-ALA. When listed as ALA, this means it contains two forms—the S isomer form and the R isomer form, in a 50:50 ratio. The key is to find a product that says it contains “R-ALA” instead of just “ALA.” A good daily working dose of R-ALA is 300 to 1,200 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 600 to 2,400 mg a day of regular ALA, if you buy a regular ALA listed product.
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Trick (important): Cut down on sweets, and if you can, cut them out entirely for a couple months. I still eat ice cream about once a week, and know people who are losing weight on this diet while eating ice cream almost every day. But this probably won’t be the case for everyone. Better to severely restrict sweets for the first few months, and then gradually reintroduce.