There are today are a vast array of supplements, herbs and vitamins that claim to control diabetes. The question however that remains is, do they actually work? Over 50% of diabetes sufferers take supplements to help control their condition, not just solely for the purpose of regulating blood sugar levels, but also to provide nutritional support for their overall well-being. After all, elevated glucose levels act as a diuretic and can potentially cause excess loss of nutrients in urine meaning those with type-2 diabetes are far more likely to be deficient in water soluble minerals and vitamins.
If you’re looking for a supplement, then the most basic one you can take is a good quality multivitamin. These have been shown to significantly reduce the number of infections and sick days for diabetics. However multivitamins do not always cover everything necessary and so it is important to take extra doses of specific nutrients that can have a significantly positive effect on your condition.
Chromium is a mineral that works by optimising and improving the action of insulin in your body. In this way it helps to transfer glucose and other vital nutrients into cells. Rather than increasing the amount of insulin in the body, chromium simply works to improve its efficacy. Though there is some contradictory evidence regarding exactly how effective chromium is, there have been to date over 15 clinical trials that have demonstrated chromium’s ability to increase glucose metabolism, altogether keeping your blood sugar levels under control.
You may not have heard of it, but gymnema sylvestre is an extract from the leaves of a plant found in south and central India. The leaves themselves contain chemicals known as gymnemic acids which have demonstrated on numerous occasions their ability to regulate and slowdown the transport of glucose from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream.
In one medical trial, 22 individuals with type 2 diabetes who were on prescription medication were also given 400mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract daily. The results were quite astounding as not only did the individuals experience dramatic reductions in blood sugar levels and glycsolated plasma protein levels, but at the end of the 18 month trial, many participants were able to reduce their drug dosages. In addition to this, five of the 22 people were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels with gymnema sylvestre extract alone!
Another study of 27 people with type-1 diabetes were given 400 mg of the Gymnema Sylvestre extract and after 12 months, numerous benefits were had as participants experienced reductions in fasting blood sugar levels as well as the amount of insulin they required was also lessened.
Numerous studies have shown that adequate amounts of magnesium are necessary for optimum blood sugar and insulin levels – this is simply because magnesium must be available for glucose-metabolising enzymes to work. It therefore comes as no surprise that for those individuals with diabetes, magnesium-deficiency is also a common problem. One study even went on to highlight that those who consume the least amount of magnesium are roughly 50% more likely to develop diabetes during their lifetime. Not only is magnesium critical for diabetics it is also involved in over 300 different metabolic functions and is therefore essential for good health.
Fenugreek is a fragrant plant primarily used in culinary dishes in India; it is also a potent medicinal product. This plant has little round leaves and produces pods that possess seeds which have a rather bitter taste. It has been used in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and there’s plenty of reasons why. For one, it is very high in soluble fibre which allows it to slow down the digestive processes and absorption of carbohydrates, ultimately lowering your blood sugar levels.
In one study, researchers observed that supplementing 100 grams daily of fenugreek seed powder to the diets of patients with type-1 diabetes resulted in a remarkable reduction in fasting blood glucose levels. In addition to this, their glucose tolerance was bolstered and they also experienced a reduction in cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Fenugreek has also shown to reduce the spike in blood glucose levels after a meal in patients with type-2 diabetes.
Cinnamon has been used in cooking and as a medicine for over thousands of years as it was highly regarded in many ancient civilizations. Research has clearly highlighted cinnamon’s ability to improve blood glucose levels. One study published in the journal Diabetes Care (2003) found that cinnamon not only helped control glucose levels but also had the potential to reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes in general and additionally cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Nutrition too published a paper that showed just six grams of cinnamon slowed down the emptying of the stomach and reduced hyperglycemia after eating without having any effect on how ‘full’ you were feeling. Cinnamon too is a potent anti-coagulant, meaning it stops blood clotting and is also known to boost the body’s natural immune system keeping you healthy on a day to day basis.