One of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of type 2 diabetes is getting your blood sugar under control. To keep your blood sugar from spiking and crashing, the first and most important step is becoming aware of your diet.
Eating too many calories from carbohydrates is usually the cause of blood sugar fluctuations. Your body produces extra insulin to clear away the glucose rush that eating carbs can cause.
That’s normal, but if you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is likely to overcompensate and pour out too much insulin, causing your blood sugar to dip-sometimes to dangerously low levels (hypoglycemia).
Avoiding low-quality carbohydrates from junk food and processed foods can make a big difference in getting your blood sugar under control.
Improving your diet is a crucial first step for better blood sugar control. The next step is just as important: be more physically active.
You don’t have to train for a marathon to do this. Just adding a few more minutes a day of being active, until you’ve worked up to thirty minutes most days, can really help bring your blood sugar down to manageable levels.
The frustration comes when you’ve been watching your diet and getting more exercise for months, but you’re still not getting the blood sugar results you want. At this point, you might want to consider adding some natural supplements.
Some supplements have been shown to give you a boost to help lower your blood sugar and overcome the insulin resistance that is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Berberine is the active ingredient in the medicinal plant’s European barberry, goldenseal, and Oregon grape. Berberine can help lower blood sugar for people with the metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) and type 2 diabetes. In traditional Chinese medicine, berberine has been used for over 3,000 years.
Recent research from China suggests that berberine can help reduce blood sugar as well as standard diabetes drugs.
Other research shows that berberine is also an effective supplement for lowering high cholesterol, which often goes hand in hand with high blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes.
#2 Bitter Melon
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine from India, bitter melon (also known as bitter gourd, karela, or balsam apple) is used to lower blood sugar. The bitter melon fruit is a green oblong with a distinctive appearance-it looks a lot like a very warty cucumber.
Bitter melon has been extensively studied for its glucose-lowering ability. The fruit contains several substances that help lower blood sugar, including an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide p.
One recent study, for example, showed that 2,000 mg daily significantly lowered blood glucose for people with type 2 diabetes. To get the benefits of bitter melon, you can eat it or make it into juice.
On a practical basis, that’s difficult, both because bitter melon is an acquired taste and because the fruits are usually found only in Asian specialty markets. A simpler approach is to take supplements containing bitter melon extract. Look for the botanical name Momordica charantia on the label.
Cinnamon is another traditional remedy for lowering blood sugar that has a lot of scientific support.
In particular, the cinnamaldehyde found in cinnamon bark can help lower fasting blood glucose, although it doesn’t seem to help make much of a difference in A1C numbers (a measure of blood sugar control over three months).
If you want to try cinnamon to lower your blood sugar, don’t simply add it to your food as a flavoring.
You can’t eat enough of the ground cinnamon used in cooking to make a difference and the extra cinnamon you get from a sticky bun won’t make up for the extra sugar! Instead, look for supplements that contain ground cinnamon or cinnamon extract.
Oligonol is a patented, low-molecular-weight polyphenolic extract derived from lychee fruit (85 percent) and green tea (15 percent). In more understandable terms, oligonol is a powerful antioxidant with excellent absorption.
In lab tests, oligonol helps improve insulin resistance in skeletal muscles, helps prevent liver damage from diabetes, and helps prevent the muscle loss that can come with diabetes.
Studies of oligonol show it can improve insulin resistance by reducing the amount of fat stored in both the liver and skeletal muscles. Oligonol decreases the amount of fat produced and stored in the liver. It also decreased the amount of fat stored in skeletal muscles.
When the cells of the liver and skeletal muscles contain less stored fat, they’re more receptive to insulin, allowing it to carry more blood glucose into the cells and lowering the amount of glucose in your blood.
When oligonol is used to help lower blood glucose, it has an added benefit: it also suppresses inflammatory markers in the blood, particularly interleukin-6 (IL-6).
Because IL-6 stimulates the inflammatory process in diabetes-and also other conditions such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease–lowering your levels could help lower your risk of diabetic complications.
Research shows that oligonol is particularly effective for helping to reduce blood glucose and blood lipid levels after a meal. If your blood sugar tends to spike and then crash soon after eating, taking oligonol with meals may help break this dangerous cycle and give you better overall control.
Natural supplements for people with type 2 diabetes can be very helpful, but use them with caution. If you take medication such as metformin or rosiglitazone to lower your blood sugar, adding these supplements to your treatment could bring your blood sugar down too far.
Discuss supplement use with your doctor before you try them, and keep a careful eye on your blood sugar to avoid dangerous lows.
And remember that while supplements can be helpful, they’re in addition to, not instead of, making a serious effort to control your blood sugar through a better diet and more exercise.
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