Many diabetics already know about the benefits of a low-glycemic diet and the need for regular exercise, but why haven’t they heard about turmeric, one of the world’s most extensively researched anti-diabetes plants?
Literature reviews and studies in major medical journals have provided promising support to the notion that the ancient Indian spice turmeric may be a medication alternative to managing and perhaps even preventing type 2 diabetes. Current data estimates more than 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10 people), and approximately 90% of them have type 2 diabetes, which has become one of the most common diagnoses. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it today.
An article in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded that turmeric and its polyphenol active called curcumin could improve the type 2 diabetic state through a variety of distinct mechanisms. These include the reduction in liver glucose production, reduced liver glycogen (stored glucose) production, stimulation of increased glucose uptake, suppressing hyperglycemia-induced inflammatory state, stimulating insulin secretion from pancreatic tissues, and improving pancreatic cell function. Also, human studies conducted on diabetic and pre-diabetic patients revealed that turmeric had the following beneficial effects:
- glucose-lowering effect
- improved beta-cell function in the pancreas
- enhanced fatty acid oxidation and utilization
RISK FACTORS FOR DIABETES
Many risk factors for type 2 diabetes include lifestyle decisions that can be reduced or even cut out entirely with time and effort. Men are also at slightly higher risk of developing diabetes than women. This may be more associated with lifestyle factors, including body weight, and where the weight is located (abdominal versus in the hip area) than with innate gender differences. Some of the most significant risk factors for diabetes include:
- older age
- excess weight especially around the waist (visceral fat)
- family history
- certain ethnicities
- physical inactivity
- poor diet
In type 2 diabetes, which again accounts for about 90 percent of the cases of diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body cells do not use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes are characterized by insulin resistance. When the cells become resistant to insulin, the body responds by making more insulin to overcome the resistance. Since insulin causes your body to store fat and prevents you from burning the fat that’s already stored in your fat cells, you start or continue to gain weight and have a difficult time losing weight. Elevated insulin levels will also cause high blood pressure and can lead to additional stress on the body. This process can happen over many years and even decades. The elevated glucose and insulin associated with diabetes can slowly damage your cells, organs, and tissues, leading to severe complications and even death.
So, the question becomes what actually triggers or causes the insulin resistance to begin with? Several key factors come into play here. The first is inflammation. Several studies have shown that chronic systemic inflammation can interrupt the communication between insulin and its receptors, leading to insulin resistance. Inflammation, of course, is a normal process: an immune reaction to some sort of physical or chemical insult that should go away once that insult is addressed. However, chronic inflammation is more dangerous. It’s a reaction to the constant physical, chemical, nutritional and emotional insults that we deal with every day. This is the chronic systemic inflammation that clogs the insulin receptors leading to insulin resistance.
DIABETES: THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
Understand that insulin resistance is associated with much more than just diabetes. It is a fundamental factor in several other severe medical conditions, including obesity, hypertension, abnormalities in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and increased risk of heart disease. By incorporating a healthy lifestyle pattern into your daily life with good food choices, exercise, and hydration, you can take immediate action to increase your cells’ sensitivity to insulin. This will not only improve your blood sugar control and reduce your risk of diabetic complications but also protect you from the ravages of other very significant health problems.
Medicine has become so specialized that you may see one doctor for your diabetes, another for your high blood pressure, and yet another for hormonal problems. Given this sort of compartmentalization, it’s no wonder that patients often end up being treated with a plethora of drugs, one for each symptom or diagnosis.
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR DIABETES
Nutritional supplements are a must for anyone with diabetes. Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and herbs are naturally occurring compounds that, if taken at the right time in the right amounts, can have a profound positive effect on blood glucose levels. They can also protect you against debilitating consequences of diabetes from eye and kidney problems to heart disease and premature death.
While there is no question that turmeric is the king of all supplements for helping to manage diabetes, there are other science-based nutritional supplements that should be part of every diabetics’ daily regimen. Here are a few highly recommended to consider:
- Vanadium sulfate – this trace mineral acts remarkably like insulin in blood sugar regulation
- Chromium – this unique compound improves the activity of insulin and facilitates the uptake of glucose into cells.
- Antioxidants – these include vitamins A, C, and E, which slow down free radical activity at the cellular level.
- Lipoic acid – this is a powerful antioxidant supplement that is very useful in diabetics, which improves insulin sensitivity and helps reduce neuropathy or nerve pain.
- Gymnema Sylvestre – this is an incredible herb used to regulate blood sugar for centuries by practitioners of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine. Next to turmeric, this is the second most powerful herbal medicine known to help with diabetes.
- Magnesium – this essential mineral is deficient in nearly 80 percent of adults, and helps to guard against diabetic complications.
- Cinnamon – this spice not only tastes good but has shown in multiple clinical studies to help manage and regulate blood sugar levels.
Cypress Pharmacy’s Diabetes Balance contains many of these ingredients in one easy to take capsule.
Obviously, this may seem like quite a list to you at first, but believe me, the cost and effort it may take to implement a comprehensive lifestyle and nutritional supplement program will pay off in significant improvement in your health for many years to come.