Super-Foods and Supplements to Support Blood Sugar
Cinnamon spice could help those with poorly controlled diabetes improve their blood sugar levels. A recent study found those who consumed 2 grams of cinnamon for 3 months had lower average blood sugars and lower blood pressure than those who did not take the cinnamon (Diabet Med, 2010; 27(10): 1159-67 ). Compounds found in cinnamon may help improve insulin sensitivity and boost glucose uptake by the body. Most studies use Cassia cinnamon. Sprinkle some on your oatmeal, cereal, or apple slices for a flavor boost and possibly for better blood sugar control.
Psyllium is a soluble fiber often used as a bulk forming laxative that has been shown to have a positive effect on blood glucose and cholesterol levels. When taken with a meal, psyllium helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. Typically 5 grams is taken with at least 8 ounces of water with a meal three times per day. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2005;102:202–7) found that those who took 10 grams of psyllium/day experienced significantly lower blood sugar levels, lower HbA1C, and improved cholesterol ratios. Psyllium can reduce the absorption of some medications, so talk with your physician or pharmacist for potential interactions.
Gymnema Sylvestre contains molecules structurally similar to glucose which actually block true glucose from attaching to sites on the taste buds. It is believed that this action helps to reduce sugar cravings. These glucose-impersonating molecules also attach to sites in the intestines, resulting in a reduced amount of real glucose absorption and lower blood sugar levels.
Fenugreek is a seed that has a long history of use in cooking as a spice. It has a maple-syrup like flavor and has historically been used for diabetes, to induce childbirth, and as an appetite stimulant. A few small studies have found it can help lower blood glucose levels.
Some studies have found that chromium picolinate can decrease fasting blood glucose and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Chromium is an essential trace element required by the body and it is involved in blood sugar metabolism. Chromium supplements seem to be of most benefit to those with already low levels of chromium. Diets heavy in refined carbohydrates and junk foods are more likely to be lacking in chromium. It will not improve blood sugar levels in those who already have adequate chromium intake. Most studies have used 150-600 mcg/day of chromium. The FDA and the Institute of Medicine suggest doses up to 200 mcg/day for up to 6 months are safe. Broccoli, grape juice, whole grains, potatoes, garlic, beef, turkey and basil are some sources of dietary chromium.
Many with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are deficient in magnesium. Elevated blood sugar levels increase the loss of magnesium and low levels of magnesium increase the risk of insulin resistance. The RDA for magnesium for men over age 31 is 420 mg and 320 mg for women over age 31. Good food sources of magnesium include fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. One ounce of almonds (23 whole) provides 80mg of magnesium, one ounce of pumpkin seeds provides around 150 mg of magnesium, and one ounce of bran cereal provides around 100 mg of magnesium.
If diabetics are on certain oral medications or insulin they will need to pay close attention to their blood glucose levels when adding herbs, supplements, or foods that can further reduce blood sugar. They could experience low blood sugar levels.
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