November is diabetes month. Many people know that the most common form of diabetes is preventable, but too many are not yet incorporating that message of prevention into their daily lives. Keep reading to learn how.
Lack of exercise, poor diet, and excess weight (especially around the middle) significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. The consequences of allowing it to go unchecked are grave and include amputation of limbs, blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and death.
Eat more whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables, and opt for low-fat dairy products. Research has shown that people who follow these guidelines are 15 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who do not.
Avoid soft drinks—even diet ones. Many people choose diet pop over regular soft drinks to avoid calories and weight gain, but recent research suggests that people who drink diet pop on a daily basis have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Recent research suggests that exercise may be as good as diet and drugs at managing diabetes.
Although more research is needed for definitive results, the following nutritional supplements and herbs offer promise.
Ivy gourd (Coccinia indica)
This plant appears to mimic the action of insulin in the body. In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, 32 patients with type 2 diabetes were treated for six weeks with powdered ivy gourd. Researchers reported significant changes in blood sugar control.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
Some clinical trials in humans have examined the herb’s effects on patients with type 2 diabetes, reporting decreases in fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c.
Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre)
Gymnema leaves were first found to lower blood sugar in the 1920s. Research in animals and humans has found that gymnema leaves raise insulin levels, possibly by regenerating the pancreatic beta cells that make insulin.
Although most people with diabetes are not deficient in chromium, supplementation has been shown to help control glucose as well as weight, blood lipids, and bone density.
Magnesium deficiency can cause insulin resistance and worsen diabetes complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, thrombosis, and hypertension.
It is suggested that vitamin E supplementation could reduce complications of diabetes arising from the glycation of proteins and the oxidative damage that accompanies the disease.
Vanadium is a nonessential trace element that may be helpful in improving the uptake and metabolism of glucose, the metabolism of lipid and amino acids, and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
In patients with type 2 diabetes who were given 600 to 1,800 mg per day, alpha-lipoic acid had positive effects on glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity.
Diabetes is serious and potentially life threatening. A qualified health care practitioner should manage it. Advice regarding natural therapies should be sought from a naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, or other knowledgeable practitioner.
Health food store personnel may also be able to direct you to useful information regarding supplements to support healthy blood sugar levels.