In our previous article on diabetes (part one), we provided our readers with an overview of this dangerous and increasingly common disease, including its main types, risk factors, and symptoms. We also provided some general tips, including the need for exercise, on how to manage diabetes. In this second article (part two) on diabetes, we will look more closely at current research findings on holistic nutritional approaches and supplements that have been shown to help prevent, manage, and possibly even reverse diabetes.
FOODS FOR DIABETES:
Let us begin by looking at the best foods for avoiding and perhaps reducing diabetes.
WHOLE GRAINS AND CEREALS:
With their high fiber content and rich antioxidant content, whole grains are an excellent food choice for diabetics. On balance, because they are less processed, they have a lower glycemic index (GI) than refined grains. This means that they are digested more slowly than their refined counterparts so they don’t raise blood sugar as quickly or as dramatically- a very important consideration for diabetes and also for cancer prevention. Their high fiber content also helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.
Studies have revealed that the “wrong” carbohydrate foods i.e. those with a high GI and low nutritional content due to over-processing, contribute to insulin resistance syndrome, which is at the core of type II diabetes, and which occurs when the body stops responding to this critical hormone. According to a Harvard University study of almost 43,000 men, the risk of diabetes can be reduced by up to 42 percent simply by replacing white bread, white rice, and highly processed sugary breakfast cereals with whole grain loaves, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, and porridge (Readers Digest, 2009).
Some of the most nutritious grains and “pseudocereals” that are listed in the online magazine Diabetes Forecast as being especially beneficial for diabetics are described below:
Amaranth: a pseudocereal and major crop of the ancient Aztecs that has recently begun to be viewed as an alternative to cereal grains such as wheat and oats. Amaranth has been described as the “most nutritious grain in the world” (Navdanya) and is one of the best sources of carbohydrates, protein, minerals, essential micronutrients, and fiber. The seeds are particularly rich in the amino acid, lysine and are gluten-free.
Buckwheat: Also a pseudocereal, buckwheat contains all of the essential amino acids, vitamin E, and almost the entire spectrum of B complex vitamins. Buckwheat flour (consumed in the form of pancakes and noodles) can help to reduce diabetes, obesity, hypertension hyper-cholesterolemia and constipation.
Other important grains for diabetics include:
Millet: a staple in much of the world which is high in protein and gluten free.
Quinoa: like amaranth, this pseudocereal is an ancient staple that was used by the Incas. It is a complete protein containing all nine of the essential amino acids and is gluten free.
Bulgur: a type of cracked wheat kernel, this is a Middle Eastern favorite. It is high in fiber and protein.
Teff: a staple grain in Ethiopia, the flour is used to create a traditional flatbread. It is very high in protein and is a rich source of iron and calcium. It is also a gluten-free grain.
Pearled barley and oatmeal: both of these grains are considered to be super foods for diabetics. They are rich in fiber and loaded with nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, chromium, omega-3 fatty acids and folate.
Like whole grains, beans have a low GI and are packed with nutrients, making them an important nutritional support for diabetics. Examples include kidney beans pinto beans, navy beans, and black beans, all of which are highly nutritious. Just half a cup of beans provides one third of our daily fiber requirements.
Beans are also are good sources of magnesium and potassium, important nutrients for diabetics. Although they are considered starchy vegetables, a half cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat. Canned varieties can be used but they should be rinsed first to remove excess sodium.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:
Carotenoids such as beta-carotene – the nutrients found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables – along with the antioxidant vitamins E and C appear to be particularly important for diabetics.
In a Finnish study of more than 4300 non-diabetic women and men, who were tracked over a period of 23 years, those who ate foods highest in vitamin E such as leafy greens, seeds and nuts, had a 31 percent lower risk of developing type II diabetes. Those whose diets were rich in a type of carotenoid found in citrus fruits, red capsicum, pawpaw, coriander, corn, and watermelon cut their risk by 42 percent (Readers Digest, 2009).
Though vitamin C does not appear to cut the risk of diabetes on its own, it appears to boost the power of vitamin E thereby making it an important anti-diabetes aid.
Research also suggests that people with diabetes have more free radicals than people who don’t suffer from this disease. It is thought that free radicals may have a role both in causing diabetes and exacerbating its long-term effects: hence the importance of anti-oxidants, which are found in high proportions in a number of fruits and vegetables.
A super food that could be highly beneficial for preventing and treating diabetes is sea buckthorn since the berries are an excellent source of vitamin E; have a high Vitamin C content; and are very rich in some of rarest and most powerful antioxidants in the world. Moreover, scientists have identified 39 out of the 50 carotenoids present in our diet in sea buckthorn berries, resulting in a powerful and effective anti-oxidant network. Sea buckthorn is in fact one of the richest sources of one of these carotenoids – beta-carotene, making it especially important for diabetes sufferers.
If you would like to purchase sea buckthorn, our recommended source is described on our page: Sea Buckthorn: A True Super Food for Health and Beauty..
PEANUT BUTTER AND NUTS
A nurses’ health study of more than 80,000 women with no history of diabetes revealed that those who ate nuts five times a week lowered their risk of type II diabetes by 30 percent compared to women who never ate nuts. Eating peanut butter five times a week cut the risk by 20 percent (Readers Digest, 2009). Obviously for those who are allergic to peanuts and other nuts, this is not a good option!
Australian research also indicates that nuts are a good food choice for diabetics and for reducing cardiovascular risk. They could even help to control blood glucose levels due to their rich content of healthy monounsaturated fats, which may reduce insulin resistance. When consuming peanut butter, it is important to ensure that it is unprocessed natural peanut butter and to avoid commercial brands containing added fats.
Olive oil: A number of studies have shown that olive oil lowers blood sugar as well as heart disease risk. A Spanish study of 772 people at high risk for heart disease showed that people whose diets were high in olive oil or nuts had significantly lower blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol than those on a low-fat diet (Readers Digest, 2009). Olive oil contains valuable nutrients for diabetics such as beta-carotene, vitamin E and other anti-oxidants.
Other oils that are reported to be especially valuable for diabetics include pure virgin coconut oil (this helps to actually regulate blood sugar and is considered to be one of the best oils for diabetics); flaxseed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil. Of course, it is important that these oils are unrefined, organic, non-GMO etc. to obtain their full benefits.
While many of these oils can be purchased at supermarkets or health food stores, some such as avocado oil and pure virgin cold pressed coconut oil may be less accessible. Our recommended source of high quality vegetable oils that are extracted through expeller or cold pressed methods without the use of solvents, hexane, or alcohol can be accessed through the following link:
VINEGAR AND LEMON JUICE:
Studies at the University of Sidney have shown that the addition of a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice (e.g. in salad dressing) to a meal, could reduce the glycemic index of meal by up to 30 percent (Readers Digest, 2009). It is thought that the acidity results in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Cayenne: Capsaicin is the active ingredient found in many pain-control prescriptions and over- the-counter creams, ointments and patches. Over time, it short-circuits pain by depleting nerve cells of a chemical known as “substance P” which helps transfer pain signals along nerve endings to the brain. It is used for treating arthritis and muscle pain as well as shingles pain and diabetes-related nerve pain. At least one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diabetes sufferers who ate a meal containing plenty of chili required less post-meal insulin to reduce their blood sugar. This indicates that the spice may be beneficial in controlling blood glucose.
Cinnamon: Studies have found that cinnamon lowers blood sugar, cholesterol (including bad cholesterol or LDL) and tri-glycerides (heart-threatening fats in the blood stream) and boosts the efficiency of insulin. All of these factors are important in treating diabetes and heart disease. One study showed that eating ¼ to 1 ¼ teaspoons a day for 40 days resulted in a reduction of blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent (Readers Digest, 2009). You can read more about the many benefits of cinnamon in our post, Cinnamon: A Powerful Healer Among Spices.
Turmeric: Preliminary research at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center has demonstrated promising results of turmeric’s benefits for diabetic obese mice. Scientists at the Center found that curcumin, which is the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant component of turmeric reduces insulin resistance and inhibits Type II diabetes in mice by alleviating the inflammatory response induced by obesity. Though more research is needed with human subjects, the conclusion for now is that turmeric, and specifically curcumin, can reverse many of the inflammatory and metabolic problems associated with obesity and improve blood sugar control in mice with type II diabetes. You can read more about the many health benefits of turmeric and about a very powerful curcumin supplement in our article: Rooting for Health: The Healing and Protective Powers of Turmeric.
Please Note: You learn more about a unique doctor-formulated thirty day program for treating diabetes through an easy-to-follow and remarkably effective diet and lifestyle program that is guaranteed to reverse type 2 diabetes and to significantly lower insulin dependence in type 1 diabetes at our page:
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR DIABETES:
Vitamins C, E, and Zinc: Anti-oxidants such as vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc help to counter free radical damage and thus reduce the risk of complications from diabetes such as heart disease and nerve damage.
Magnesium: Magnesium appears to help cells to use insulin. Deficiencies in this element are common in diabetics and may play a part in promoting diabetic eye problems. Several studies have found that magnesium supplementation in doses of 300 to 600 mg daily for three months significantly lowered blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure, and increased “good’ HDL cholesterol. This nutrient also lowers the risk of infection; an important consideration for diabetics who are more prone to infections than those who do not suffer from this disease.
Calcium and Vitamin D: A twenty-year study in the US of almost 84,000 nurses – none of whom were diabetics at the start of the study – found that women who daily consume 1200 mg. of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type II diabetes than women who consumed much lower amounts (Readers Digest, 2009).
To obtain high quality vitamin and mineral supplements, we would recommend you visit our product page, A Complete Online Store for Herbal and Health Supplements for information on a leading supplier of top branded supplements.
Specifically with regard to magnesium supplementation, we would highly recommend Natural Calm. This water soluble magnesium product is immediately assimilated into the body even in cases where digestion is highly impaired, and is one of the most effective products available for correcting magnesium deficiency.
Systemic/Fibrinolytic Enzymes: There is a growing body of evidence that treatment of diabetes with fibrinolytic enzymes yields promising results. Dr. Wong, a leading proponent of enzyme therapy explains that the anti-inflammatory effects of highly fibrinolytic, scar tissue-eating systemic enzymes can lead to a decrease in pancreatic inflammation and fibrosis in the Islets of Langerhans and their insulin-producing Beta Cells. These effects also lead to a decrease in diabetic peripheral neuropathy and associated peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and a reduction in insulin dependence.
Dr. Wong describes two case histories of heavily insulin-dependent patients suffering from severe type I diabetes, both of whom showed marked improved after undergoing enzyme therapy. Both patients had undergone amputations due to PVD and their circulation was extremely poor. The second patient also had neurological pain in his lower extremities, reduced urine flow due to scar tissue in his kidneys, and a grey/white pallor due to poor circulation. Both patients were saved from further amputations as their circulation improved and the second patient experienced normalization of urine flow and is no longer insulin-dependent. In fact, he is off all medication and is no longer considered diabetic at all! Dr. Wong also refers to type II diabetes patients who have experienced improved energy levels and stabilizing of blood sugar levels when treated with enzymes.
To learn more about the powerful anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic effects of systemic enzymes, please visit our page Serra Enzyme: A Miracle Healer and Pain (and Inflammation) Reliever.
HERBS FOR DIABETES:
And finally in the last section of this article, we would like to focus on selected herbal remedies that have been researched and found to be effective as anti-diabetes aids.
Gymnema Sylvestre: This plant which is native to the Indian tropical forests has long been used as a treatment for diabetes and is widely recommended for improving blood sugar control. Its effectiveness in both type I and type II diabetes has been confirmed by recent scientific investigation and there is some evidence that it may even revitalize or regenerate beta cells in the pancreas.
Momordica Charantia (Bitter Melon): This tropical and sub-tropical vine is widely grown for edible fruit, a bitter vegetable popular in India, and in the Philippines, bitter melon tea is used for blood sugar control. Several preliminary (non-randomized, non-blinded) clinical studies have suggested therapeutic benefits of bitter melon for diabetics. In both animals and humans, Momordica and polypeptide P have been shown to increase glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in the liver, muscle, and adipose tissue and improve glucose tolerance.
Banaba (Corosolic acid): A plant native to India, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia, Banaba’s traditional uses include a tea brewed from its leaves as a treatment for elevated blood sugar levels and diabetes. Corosolic acid, a compound contained in Banaba leaf extract, is involved in stimulating the transport of glucose into cells and has been shown to safely lower blood glucose levels.
Clinical studies of patients with type II diabetes who have taken Banaba extract for a period of 4 to 8 weeks have demonstrated a 5 to 30 percent reduction in blood sugar levels and tighter control of blood sugar fluctuations. In one study, subjects who took the supplement for a period of 22 weeks demonstrated a 30 percent drop in blood sugar and an average weight loss of 3.2 pounds per month without any dietary changes.
Pterocarpus Marsupium (Indian Kino): Long used as a treatment for diabetes in India, this tree contains a flavonoid that has been shown to help regenerate beta cells in the pancreas. In an Indian study of the effects of this herb on 97 individuals with blood sugar problems, it was found to control blood sugar levels in 67 percent of these patients.
In addition to lowering blood glucose, Pterocarpus also demonstrates cell protective properties, which have been confirmed in numerous trials with results of almost complete restoration of normal insulin secretion.
Please Note: All of these herbal extracts, along with several other nutrients that have been shown to help with diabetes, can be found synergistically combined with potent enzymes, key minerals, and specialty supplements in an excellent natural aid for diabetes. You can read more about it at our page:
Diabetes Forecast. April 2009. 10 Diabetes Superfoods. (http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/only-online/10-diabetes-superfoods).
Navdanya. 2006. Bhoole Bisre Anaj – Forgotten Foods. New Delhi, India: Navdanya/RFSTE.
Neithercott, Tracey. March 2010. Get to Know 6 Great Grains. In Diabetes Forecast: The Healthy Living Magazine. (http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/food-thought/get-know-6-great-grains.
Reader’s Digest. 2009. Food Cures: Breakthrough Nutritional Prescriptions for Everything from Colds to Cancer. Ultimo, NSW, Australia: Reader’s Digest (Australia) Pty Limited.
Wong, William. n.d. Treating Diabetes with Enzymes: What We Know Now. (http://www.totalityofbeing.com/FramelessPages/Articles/TreatingDiabetes.htm)
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is only intended to educate and inform our readers. It is in no way intended to provide medical advice or to diagnose or treat any disease. If you have a health problem, you should consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any substances for medicinal purposes.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Apples and Doctors is affiliated with Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Remedies.
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