Regulating Blood Sugar
These nutrients and herbs help keep glucose
in the heart-healthy range.
When it comes to diabetes, there’s actually some good news. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of people newly diagnosed with diabetes decreased by roughly 1.4 million between 2009 and 2014.
The bad news? That still leaves 22 million Americans living with diabetes, a major cause of cardiovascular disease and numerous other difficulties besides. What’s more, the CDC count doesn’t include many people who have diabetes but don’t know it yet.
Type 2 diabetes makes up the vast majority of cases. It often occurs in stages. In insulin resistance the body becomes unable to use insulin, the hormone that shepherds glucose into cells. That can progress to prediabetes, when glucose rises above the fasting level of 100 mg/dL considered to be normal; levels of 126 and above are considered outright diabetes.
Diet and exercise form the first line of defense against diabetes. In addition, the natural remedies on the next page may help (discuss their usage with your practitioner).
|Name||What It Is||What It Does|
|Chromium||Trace mineral found in small amounts in most foods; good sources include brewer’s yeast, broccoli and tomatoes||Needed to create a molecule, LMWCr, that helps insulin drive glucose into the body’s cells; low levels have been linked to high blood sugar levels|
||Cinnamomum zeylanicum, from the inner bark of a tree native to Sri Lanka and parts of southern India||Contains compounds that increase insulin sensitivity and promote cellular uptake of glucose; inhibits breakdown of starch to sugar in the intestines; has reduced glucose levels in people with diabetes
||A substance found in most of the body’s cells; also known as ubiquinol; meat and fish are among the richest sources||Crucial for conversion of glucose into energy within the cell and helps fight oxidative stress, both
important factors in diabetes; supplementation in diabetics has shown various benefits
||Trigonella foenum-graecum, the leaves and seeds of which have long been used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking||Has shown an ability to balance glucose levels; has inhibited progression from prediabetes to
diabetes and prevented diabetic nerve damage in studies
|Garlic||Allium sativum L., used in cultures around the world as a culinary and medicinal herb||Helps lower glucose levels and fights oxidation and inflammation; also supports overall cardiovascular health, a major concern in people with diabetes|
|Ginseng*||Panax ginseng, long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a restorative tonic||An analysis of 16 clinical trials found ginseng to “modestly yet significantly” improve fasting glucose levels; studies have linked the herb’s glucose-lowering ability to improved mental functioning|
|Guggul||Commiphora mukul, a small tree native to northern India; guggul is a resin taken from the bark||Has shown an ability to help reduce glucose levels; also helps to counteract unhealthy cholesterol conditions, which often occur in people with diabetes|
|Inulin||A type of dietary fiber called an oligosaccharide, found in many plants; most supplements use chicory inulin||Has helped lower glucose levels in studies; may promote greater appetite regulation and reduce food intake, key factors in weight loss (maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent diabetes)|
|Lipoic Acid||An antioxidant that occurs in two forms, alpha and
racemic lipoic acid; found in yeast, liver and other foods
|Not only fights free radicals itself but also helps recharge other antioxidants; has reduce insulin resistance in studies; helps protect nerves against damage caused by high glucose levels|
|Rhemannia*||Rhemannia glutinosa, an herb native to China, where it is a staple remedy in TCM||Has reduced glucose levels and inflammation markers in studies; used by traditional healers to treat inflammation of the kidneys, which are often damaged by high blood sugar levels|
|Seaweed Extract*||Extracts taken from two species, Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus||Helps to block the conversion of starch into sugar within the intestines, blunting post-meal glucose spikes; may promote weight control|
|Vitamin D||A fat-soluble nutrient created in skin that is exposed to sunshine; food sources include fish and egg yolks||Plays a role in promoting healthy insulin production; low vitamin D levels have been linked to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes|
NOTE: Always consult with your healthcare practitioner for help in designing a supplementation program, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
*Generally available only in supplement form in the US.
Additional Blood Sugar Regulators
|Name||What It Is||What It Does|
Lagerstroemia speciosa, a tropical tree used medicinally in southeastern Asia for centuries
A traditional Filipino diabetes remedy, banaba contains corosilic acid, which has been shown to not only lower blood sugar but also cholesterol in addition to fighting oxidation; may also inhibit fat deposition in the liver under high-glucose conditions
|Bitter Melon||Momordica charantia, a warty gourd used as both food and medicine in India, East Africa and other tropical areas||Traditional use in lowering glucose levels has been confirmed by research; also appears to protect blood vessels against diabetes-related damage; has shown antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties in lab studies
One of the most common minerals in the body besides calcium; many Americans don’t get enough magnesium despite its presence in a number of foods including green vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds
|Essential to more than 300 metabolic reactions, including energy production, maintaining skeletal integrity and promoting nervous system balance; deficiency associated with diabetes and low-level inflammation; crucial for cardiovascular health
A trace mineral found in seafood, meat and wheat germ
Best known for supporting immune, male reproductive and skin health as well as sensory organ function and proper fetal development; deficiencies have been linked with diabetes