The CDC reports that approximately 35 percent of Americans age 20 or older have pre-diabetes. That number soars to 50 percent for Americans over the age of 65. And that’s not even counting those who have undiagnosed diabetes– unaware that they even have the disease until they start to have physical complications. Clearly, blood sugar is a serious concern.
I find the rise in cases of type 2 diabetes alarming. If you’ve ever wondered why we’re seeing such an epidemic of diabetes and prediabetes, all you have to do is look at our diets.
Sugar Intake Soars
According to the USDA, our sugar intake nationwide has expanded dramatically within the past 100 years. In the early 1900’s, the national average of sugar consumption was 10 pounds annually per person. Today, the national average is around 150 (and probably up to 200) pounds of sugar per person.
And one type of sugar – high fructose corn syrup – has seen an explosion of use in just the past 40 years. From a small beginning in the 1970s of only 5 pounds consumed per person, by the year 2000, that number had risen to an average of 85 pounds of high fructose corn syrup in one year.
Sugar and starch consumption is one of themajor reasons for weight gain, mood swings, and the rise of type 2 diabetes. If you have high blood sugar, diet must be a part of your solution.
Because I have been asked about this information so many times, I have outlined a meal plan and an exercise program that is simple and effective in getting people healthy. Look for Terry’s Menu for Health and Longevity and Terry’s Exercise Plan on my website at www.terrytalksnutrition.com.
Nutrients to Balance Your Blood Sugar
Aside from diet and exercise, begin your recovery from high blood sugar with powerful supplemental nutrients. There are many that have extensive research, but some of the best include benfotiamine, biotin, chromium, mulberry leaf extract, and purslane.
Mulberry – More Effective than Drugs for Reducing Blood Sugar
Mulberry (Morus alba) trees are very common throughout the world, and their medicinal value is very impressive. In a clinical study published in the journal Clinica Chimica Acta, patients with type 2 diabetes treated with a mulberry leaf extract significantly improved their glycemic control compared to glibenclamide (a drug) treatment. Comparing the two, fasting blood glucose after treatment with glibenclamide decreased by 8 percent. After mulberry treatment? 27 percent!
In a similar study, mulberry leaf extract was also shown more effective in controlling fasting blood glucose levels than the oral hypoglycemic drug glibenclamide. And yet another scientific study in Thailand showed that mulberry leaf extract decreased blood sugar levels by 22 percent after being administered for six weeks.
The reason mulberry leaf works so well is because it contains substances that inhibit an enzyme (alpha glucosidase) responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into sugars. That means that the absorption rate of these sugars is reduced and delayed, which lessens the stress on the insulin system. Make sure that the mulberry leaf extract is standardized for alpha glucosidase inhibition for it to be effective. Other benefits of mulberry leaves in people with diabetes include: reduces high blood sugar levels, works as an antioxidant, slows the onset of retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eye common in people with type 2 diabetes), and curbs the cravings for foods that can worsen diabetic conditions.
Purslane – Nutrient-Rich Blood Sugar Control
Purslane (Portuluca oleracea) is an ancient herb discussed in Greek medical scripts, and was even mentioned in the book of Job in the Bible. Some experts call it “The best vegetable you’ve never had,” because it is not well known, but is enormously healthy.
In a pilot study of individuals with type 2 diabetes, purslane extract outperformed the placebo group by 44%, and returned high blood sugar levels to normal. In an observational study over five weeks, purslane extract normalized blood glucose in individuals with elevated levels. It was also safe and well-tolerated.
Purslane is rich in many nutrients, including vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and polysaccharides. A Chinese scientific study has shown that purslane’s polysaccharide content lowered blood sugar and triglyceride levels, and raised good HDL cholesterol. This is significant, because diabetes and unbalanced cholesterol levels tend to run together, essentially doubling a person’s risk of heart disease.
By stabilizing blood glucose concentrations, purslane may help to control blood glucose related appetite cravings, and help protect the body from the negative effects of high blood sugar levels.
Benfotiamine – A Powerful Form of Vitamin B1
Benfotiamine is a form of vitamin B1– also known as thiamin – that is retained in the body at 5 times the concentrations of standard water-based thiamin. Thiamin helps the body metabolize carbohydrates effectively, to turn those calories into energy. Without it, not only do sugars not break down as they should, (leaving more in the bloodstream), but your chances of oxidative damage and inflammation in the blood vessels increase.
Benfotiamine fights the damage of blood glucose in many ways. A scientific study at the University of Florida College of Medicine showed that benfotiamine prevented glucose toxicity and brought elevated blood sugar levels back down to normal.
This form of vitamin B1 has also been clinically proven to reduce pain and complications of diabetic neuropathy, the “pins-and-needles” and the “tingling” that people with diabetes feel in their feet and legs.
In a Serbian clinical study, patients with diabetes were treated with a combination of benfotiamine and vitamin B6 for 45 days. At the end of the study, 86 percent of the patients reported a highly significant reduction in overall pain. The pain due to light pressure, touch, or temperature – a condition called “allodynia” often seen in those with neuropathy – was reduced from 77 percent of the patients to 22 percent by the conclusion of the study. There was also a reduction in pain due to the loss of muscle fibers, (called hyperpathia), from 90 percent of the patients to just 32 percent. The researchers felt that these results “confirmed that benfotiamine was a good starting choice for the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy.”
Biotin and Chromium – Perfect Partners for Glucose Control
Biotinis a B-vitamin that is absolutely necessary for our bodies to process glucose properly. In fact, in cases of biotin deficiency, the pancreatic islet structure – the “birthplace” of inulin – is altered as well. If you’re deficient, your body’s ability to respond to glucose levels is severely compromised. Biotin has been proven for glucose control in cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. An Iranian study found that it reduced A1C and fasting blood sugar levels in individuals with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes.
Chromiumis an essential trace mineral for blood sugar metabolism. It activates insulin receptors, helping to prevent the build-up of glucose in the bloodstream. If you have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or have elevated blood sugar levels, getting chromium into your regimen is important.
An Indian clinical study followed 20 individuals taking chromium versus the same amount using a placebo. The fasting blood glucose level for those in the chromium group dropped from an average of 197 to 103 in just three months. Their triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels were brought down to healthier levels, too. The authors of the study concluded that chromium would be especially beneficial for people with newly onset diabetes.
Biotin and chromium used together have shown strong results as well.
In a four-week Yale University School of Medicine study, patients with type 2 diabetes taking biotin/chromium saw a reduction in their glucose of an average of -9.7 percent versus a +5.1 percent gain for the placebo group. Like other studies of a biotin and chromium combination, triglyceride levels dropped as well. Additionally, there were no adverse events in the study – something that most prescription drugs can’t claim.
Take Charge of Your Blood Sugar Levels and Your Life
Diabetes is an epidemic, but you don’t have to become a statistic. By simply changing just 3 things—food choices, exercise, and including extensively-researched ingredients to your regimen, you can fight this potentially disabling and life-threatening illness.
You have the power to take control and make a difference. Getting your blood sugar under control can add years to your life and give you many healthy tomorrows.