November marks National Diabetes Month, providing an excellent opportunity to educate the public on how un-controlled blood sugar levels impacts the development of chronic disease and overall health. The American Diabetes Association has concluded that more than 1 in every 4 US citizens over the age of 65 currently has diabetes, leaving it a top health concern among many families and medical circles. Diabetes is estimated to cost the American public $174 billion dollars annually in health care costs, necessitating a call to action for educating the public on natural ways to balance blood sugar levels and prevent adult-onset
Several different forms of diabetes exist, with the most common form being type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body no longer producing enough insulin or the inability of the cells to respond to insulin. This form differs greatly from juvenile onset type 1 diabetes, a form that is caused by the auto-immune destruction of the pancreas. When uncontrolled, both forms of diabetes mellitus can cause exceptionally high levels of blood sugar, leaving the cells of the body starving for fuel and energy.
Controlling Blood Sugar, the Basics:
Controlling blood sugar levels is largely dependent on the foods we eat and the lifestyle we engage in. Foods that have been known to contribute to blood sugar elevations are simple carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index. These foods include white flour, pasta, white potatoes, pastries, sugar, soda, and other processed or refined carbohydrates. Foods that are high on the glycemic index are absorbed very rapidly as glucose, serving as an unfavorable reaction in the body. Foods that can beneficially slow the absorption of glucose include healthy fats, proteins and fiber. A vegetable based diet with lean protein and good fats at each meal are dietary goals to aim for to balance blood sugar effectively.
Exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, lean muscle mass and reduce blood glucose levels. One intending to improve blood glucose levels should aim for exercise activity of 30 minutes, three to five times weekly to optimize blood sugar levels.
Many studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid (ALA) may improve blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. An adult dose of 200 600mg can be taken daily by mouth.
One of the best blood sugar lowering herbs available, Gymnema leaves have been used for more than 2,000 years in India for the management of diabetes. Because of the blood sugar lowering effects, use gymnema with caution if on hypoglycemic medications, as the combination can dramatically lower blood sugar levels.
Other herbs and supplements:
Consideration can be given to the following herbs and supplements to aid in blood sugar balance: Bilberrry, chromium, fenugreek,
beta-glucan and pycnogenol. Windmill Farms provides many nutritional options and supplements that can help stabilize blood sugar. Please visit the nutrition department of Windmill Farms for recommendations provided in this article and other options.