Natural Remedies for Blood Sugar Control
A half-teaspoon (of cinnamon) a day keeps the doctor away: There are a number of powerful natural compounds capable of helping to stabilize and regulate blood sugar levels, and cinnamon has proven to be a standout contender that could play a significant role in our nations epidemic with poor blood sugar control.
The Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is frequently treated as an anti-diabetic compound, since it reduces the rate at which glucose enters the body. Not only does it help diabetics avoid blood sugar spikes, but it also improves glucose use in the cell itself (1).
Over time, cinnamon can reduce fasting blood glucose, and potentially cholesterol levels as well. There is promising research suggesting that daily consumption of cinnamon (1, 3, and 6g doses) had the benefit of reducing blood glucose triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol (2).
Additional benefits of cinnamon include:
- Cinnamon can increase your glucose metabolism about 20-fold, which significantly improves blood sugar regulation. (3)
- Cinnamon slows the emptying of your stomach to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar following meals, and improves the effectiveness, or sensitivity, of insulin.
- A bioflavonoid found in cinnamon called proanthocyanidin (from the inner bark of Ceylon cinnamon) may alter the insulin-signaling activity in your fat cells (4).
With staggering rates of obesity and diabetes worldwide, understanding and utilizing foods, herbs and spices to help support better blood sugar balance is paramount. However, no one spice – like cinnamon can magically mitigate elevated blood glucose levels from a poor diet.
*Nutrasumma’s Glucose Guidance contains therapeutic doses of Cinnulin, the patented form of cinnamon bark extract.
Improve Blood Sugar Control Through Adequate Nutrition
If you’re reading this article, then you’re already health minded enough to understand that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and unrefined grains are at the very base of any good nutritional paradigm.
In fact, one of the numerous minerals we get from adequate intake of whole foods is magnesium. Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate our numerous biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation (5). Unfortunately, it is estimated that because of multiple factors, including poor soil quality, digestive health and stress, up to 80% of us are deficient. Itâ??s these mineral deficiencies that may play a major role in disease progression.
Beneficial sources of magnesium include:
- Green vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard
- Black beans and navy beans
- Raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
- Raw, organic cacao
- Whole, unprocessed grains, like oatmeal and rice
The reason why magnesium, as with all of the nutrients we should be consuming through a whole foods diet are so vitally important is to minimize any nutrient deficiencies.
Very simply put, our body cannot function optimally without all the necessary ingredients (vitamins & minerals). These deficiencies, as exemplified by the importance of magnesium, affect blood pressure, heart rate, glucose regulation, energy, cognitive function, hormonal regulation, etc., etc.
Staggering statistics from a research study in the American Journal of Medicine suggest that every blood glucose rise of 1 point above 84mmol/L, was correlated with a 6% increase risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. And to make matters worse, Insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes, is developing at least a decade before detection by traditional lab markers (7).
Bottom Line: If we are not taking the steps to actively and effectively manage our blood sugar, then we are setting ourselves up for increased risk of disease and all cause mortality down the road.
Blood Sugar Support: Honorable Mention
Once a nutrient dense diet is being maintained, further support from supplemental herbs and spices, like cinnamon, can provide tremendous value to help improve the body’s use and management of blood sugar and insulin which may help with weight control and fat loss.
There are some very powerful plants extracts that can have tremendous value when specifically targeting the body’s blood sugar regulating mechanisms, including:
Gymnema Syvestre Leaf Extract: The leaves of the Gymnema sylvestre plant contain gymnemic acids, which have been shown to slow the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream. This, in turn, helps to lower blood sugar and lowerÂ hemoglobin A1c (a more long term indicator of blood sugar regulation). Some research also suggests that gymnema sylvestre extract can help repair and regenerate the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (8).
Banaba Leaf Extract: Lagerstroemia is the species of plant commonly known as Banaba. It is a herb with a blend of compounds that, holistically, seem to be catered towards being anti-diabetic in nature.
It can inhibit uptake (digestion and absorption) of carbohydrates to a degree, and can also aid in their deposition into cells from the blood stream (resulting in a reduction in blood sugar)(6).
Fenugreek Seed Extract: Fenugreek contains natural chemicals called alkaloids and saponins. Several of these compounds affect how your digestive system converts carbohydrates into blood glucose and how your body secretes and utilizes insulin. The saponins may reduce absorption of glucose from digested nutrients and other compounds might increase the amount of insulin your pancreas secretes and the number of insulin receptors on your red blood cells.
Nopal Cactus Leaf: also known as prickly pear cactus, has been a staple part of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine for centuries. Research within the past ten years has highlighted its antioxidant and cholesterol-reducing properties. The fruit of the prickly pear is rich in betalains. Several clinical studies suggest nopal cactus is beneficial for diabetics because it reduces blood glucose levels (9).
Green Tea Leaf Extract: In a study reported on in theÂ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that green tea extract resulted in a significant increase in energy expenditure (a measure of metabolism), plus also had a significant effect on fat oxidation (10).
Alpha Lipoic Acid: While neither a nutrient or an herb/spice, Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that is made by the body and is found in every cell, where it helps turn glucose into energy. In several studies, ALA appears to help lower blood sugar levels in addition to its powerful role in killing free radicals (11).
Utilizing the aforementioned nutrition and supplemental guidelines can be made extremely effective with the use of Nutrasumma’s Glucose Guidance for natural blood sugar control and healthy weight management.
Ben Brown is the owner of Body Systems Healing & Performance in Scottsdale. He specializes in strength training and fat loss programs as well as individualized supplement and nutrition plans. For more info, contact Ben at email@example.com or visit www.bodysystemsaz.com.
1) Examine.com. Cinnamon: http://examine.com/supplements/Cinnamon/
2) Khan, A., et al. 2003. Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. December, vol. 26 no. 12: 3215-3218.
3) Broadhurst CL, Polansky MM, Anderson RA. 2000. Insulin-like biological activity of culinary and medicinal plant aqueous extracts in vitro. J Agric Food Chem.
4) Mateos-MartÃn ML., et al. 2012. New identification of proanthocyanidins in cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum L.) using MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem. Jan; 402(3):1327-36.
5) National Institutes of Health: Magnesium. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
6) Examine.com. Banaba leaf: http://examine.com/supplements/Banaba+Leaf/
7) Nichols GA, Hiller TA, Brown JB. Normal Fasting Plasma Glucose and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis. Am J Med. 2008;121(6). 519-524.
8) Baskaran K, et al. 1990. AntidiabeticÂ effectÂ of aÂ leafÂ extractÂ fromÂ Gymnema sylvestreÂ inÂ non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitusÂ patients. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct;30(3):295-300.
9) Naturalnews.com – Nopal Cactus
10)Dulloo, A. et al. 1999. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.Â December, vol. 70 no. 6 1040-1045.
11)University of Maryland Medical Center Alpha Lipoic Acid: https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/alphalipoic-acid