Diabetes is very prevalent. Millions upon millions of people have it, yet in the United States, one in four don't even know it. Diabetes is the cause of many major complications, like blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. So if you have diabetes or if you are a pre-diabetic, don't you want to know how to manage your blood glucose? Then stick with me because today I'm going to give you 10 foods to lower your blood sugar naturally.
How To Control Blood Sugar Levels
Now, there's no one magic bullet that's going to completely control your diabetes. You have to manage it in a multifactorial way. For example, exercise is important. When you exercise, that helps you to maintain a healthy body weight and a healthy BMI. It also helps you to decrease fat, specifically belly fat, which can be associated with poor insulin sensitivity or diabetes.
You also may need to include supplements, but be careful. Supplements are tricky. You need to make sure you use them only under the supervision of a physician because many of them are not FDA-approved.
Manage Your Stress
You also want to manage your stress in order to lower your blood sugar. When you're stressed out, that causes an increase in stress hormones like cortisol, which can cause your blood sugar to increase. And of course, you want to maintain a healthy diet, which is where I come in because I'm going to give you 10 foods to lower your blood sugar naturally. Make sure that in all of your diabetes management, you consult with your physician.
What Is Diabetes?
Before we get into the 10 foods to lower blood sugar, let's first take a step back and review what diabetes is. Diabetes is a chronic disease in which your body either can't produce enough insulin or can't properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is important because it helps to move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells to be used for energy.
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your body can't produce insulin and type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn't properly use the insulin it does produce. Type 2 diabetes is much more common, affecting about 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes.
Be sure to watch my video on diabetes symptoms after you finish reading this article.
How To Lower Blood Sugar Naturally With 10 Power Foods!
You have them all in your cabinets, no doubt. You see them in the grocery aisles. So there are many different spices, like cinnamon, and turmeric. So we'll just talk about a couple today.
Cinnamon is a spice that's actually made out of tree bark, which is actually no shock when you look at the cinnamon, it kind of looks like a tree, right? The trick with cinnamon is that there have been many studies, but sometimes it's hard to compare because different doses have been used, and some studies found that there was no clinical significance in the decrease of blood sugar with cinnamon.
But there are many studies that have shown that there actually is a clinically significant difference. So you want to be sure you consult with your physician. One study, for example, compared people who took in one gram of cinnamon a day to three grams of cinnamon a day to six grams of cinnamon.
They compared those groups to those who had a placebo and used no cinnamon at all. And in that particular study, they found that there was a significant lowering in blood sugar.
There was also another study that was done and it had 69 patients in China, all of who were type 2 diabetics, and they compared those who used cinnamon daily versus those who didn't. And in that particular study, they found that the patients who used cinnamon had not only lowered blood sugar, they also had lower triglycerides as well.
And so the thing with cinnamon, you want to make sure that you don't use too much. You don't want to use over six grams a day if you are going to use a cinnamon supplement because that can lead to certain problems. And also remember that if you're using a supplement, it won't necessarily be FDA-approved. So in conclusion, some of the data is inconclusive.
And when a meta-analysis was done with cinnamon, when they compared 10 different studies, they did find that again some studies showed a significant lowering, and some did not. But the real key is that it may help, and won't hurt, but make sure you consult with your physician, because cinnamon is possibly a way that you can lower your blood sugar levels naturally.
Now turmeric is a very well-known spice, and if you have ever had curry, turmeric has something called curcumin which is responsible for the coloring and that kind of flavor of the curry. Turmeric is a well-known antioxidant and a spice with anti-inflammatory properties, and many studies have shown that turmeric can lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, as well as help with chronic inflammation.
Now garlic is actually one of my favorites because garlic has many medicinal properties. Garlic has compounds that not only are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, some studies suggest that it can lower triglycerides, and lower blood sugars.
Overall, garlic is just something that's really a healthy substance. Now, there was one study that was done, a review in 2015, and it did show that there was a clinical significance in the decreasing of fasting blood sugar with patients who used garlic versus those who didn't.
And there was another study that was done in 2018. In this study, patients crushed raw garlic twice daily, and they were compared to those who did not use the garlic. They were compared with the placebo. And again, they were found to have a significant difference in blood sugar. Those who used garlic had lower blood sugar levels as well as a smaller waist circumference and they had lower triglycerides as well.
Some studies have been done as well that have been a little bit less conclusive. And so again, it's important to consult with your physician, but understand that garlic is a food that may help to lower your blood sugar naturally.
3. Non-Starchy Vegetables
Now when we're dealing with starches, we're dealing with a lot of carbohydrates, and a carbohydrate is defined as a string of glucose units in the form of polysaccharides. And when you take in a lot of carbohydrates, like starchy carbohydrates, and I'm talking about bread and rice and potatoes, then that can cause your body to absorb the carbohydrates quickly. It can cause spikes in blood sugar, which of course is not good for managing diabetes. Here are some of my favorite non-starchy vegetables that aid in lowering your blood sugar levels.
I really like asparagus. It has a special flavor to it, and asparagus is loaded with folates with potent antioxidants, it's low in calories, so it's something that you can really cook in different ways, and you can fill your stomach up without having all of the excess calories, which means it can also be good for maintaining a healthy weight.
Another great non-starchy vegetable would be broccoli, and we know that broccoli is good for so many things. So of course it can help to lower blood sugar naturally, again, by being a way to fill up and to help you to lose weight. Broccoli also is loaded with all kinds of vitamins and antioxidants, and it can even enhance your immune system naturally. Be sure to watch my video on how to boost your immune system naturally after you finish reading this article.
Artichokes are interesting looking vegetables, aren't they? Now, in order to get to the actual artichoke portion that you can eat, you have to get rid of all of these beautiful, delicate-looking leaves on the outside to really get to the center, the artichoke hearts.
And so if you're someone who's moving around, busy, and doesn't have time to remove the outer artichoke leaves, you can find artichoke hearts where all the work has been done. But you want to be careful and make sure that if you find an artichoke heart like that, and say it's soaking in a preservative, make sure that it's just water. Or if it is an oil, perhaps something like olive oil.
You don't want it to be in an oil that's going to increase your cholesterol or something that's really inflammatory. So be careful with that.
Cabbage is another great non-starchy vegetable, but you want to make sure that when you are cooking these vegetables, if you're not going to eat them raw, that you cook them as little as possible so that you maintain the maximum nutrients.
Avocados are one of my favorites, and they are non-starchy vegetables. They are high in fiber, low in salt, and high in potassium, and this is another super-food to incorporate into your diet in order to lower your blood sugar levels naturally.
Pumpkin is a glorious orange winter squash, and yes it can help to lower blood sugar naturally. Pumpkin is low in calories, it's high in fiber, and has a low glycemic load, which is actually different than the glycemic index.
Glycemic load refers to the number of sugars absorbed from carbs into the bloodstream, and when a glycemic load is less than 10, that's considered to be favorable. Well, the glycemic load for pumpkins is less than three, and this is different again from the glycemic index. They actually have a pretty high glycemic index. So when you're dealing with pumpkin, it's important to understand all of the health benefits.
One is fiber. They have three grams of dietary fiber per cup of pumpkins. But it's also important to understand that you do have to have some type of portion control, because as I mentioned, even though they do have that low glycemic load, they have a high glycemic index. And so if you start dealing with high portions of pumpkin, then you could get into trouble with your sugar.
Pumpkins also have a high vitamin A which can really help with eye health. It helps to decrease macular degeneration and age-related macular degeneration. It can also help with reducing cataracts and help to reduce night blindness.
I mentioned these because a lot of these eye issues are common in patients with diabetes, and so having pumpkin in a proper portion is something that can be helpful. Pumpkins also have high vitamin C, which helps to decrease inflammation in blood vessels. We know that many diabetics have inflammation in their blood vessels, which can lead to high cholesterol and can also exacerbate the need for amputations after having poor circulation.
Now, when I say pumpkin, all things pumpkin are not healthy. I'm talking about fresh pumpkins. If you're dealing with a pumpkin pie, for example, you already know that's loaded with sugar, or if you're dealing with pumpkin puree, that may have high sugar as well. If you're looking at canned pumpkins or pumpkin seeds that are pre-prepared, they might have high salt. So you want to deal with fresh pumpkins, or you want to make sure to pay careful attention to the sugar content or to the salt content. And no, I'm not talking about the pumpkin lattes that are loaded down with sugar as well. But pumpkin is just one of those powerful foods that can help you lower blood sugar naturally.
5. Fish and Shellfish
Fish and shellfish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and shrimp tend to be low in calories, which can help you to maintain a healthy body weight, which is good for controlling diabetes or preventing high blood sugars. They tend to have Omega-3s, and fatty fish like salmon will have high vitamin D, and high potassium and they have great antioxidant properties.
Some studies show that these types of fish can help not only to lower blood sugar but can also help to lower triglycerides and help with inflammation. And so fish is another excellent choice if you are a diabetic or someone who's living with pre-diabetes.
Who knew that okra, good old okra, was one of the secrets to lowering blood sugar naturally? Okra has a specific compound, Abelmoschus esculentus, which has a hypoglycemic effect, meaning that it can lower your blood sugar, and when you are eating okra, especially if you're eating it quite a bit, it really can help to lower your blood sugar naturally, which is why if you're someone who is going to incorporate okra into your diet, and if you are already diabetic and you're on diabetic medications, please make sure you consult with your physician because okra is definitely a potent way to lower blood sugar levels.
7. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds like chia seeds, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are an excellent way to help lower blood sugar. They are loaded with fiber, and with protein. When you eat these nuts and seeds, they have low calories plus they can fill you up and lead to early satiety, meaning you get full faster with these low-calorie foods, so there's less room to eat fatty foods or unhealthy foods.
There was a study that showed that eating walnuts could actually be helpful in lowering blood sugar. They showed that for patients who ate walnuts, the antioxidants could, in some cases, actually decrease the risk of developing diabetes mellitus type 2 by up to half.
Now we're talking about a small study. We're not talking about a huge randomized controlled trial, but in the case of walnuts generally, they are helpful just for a heart-healthy diet. The other thing about nuts and seeds is that they have been shown by some studies to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels.
8. Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are low in calories, high in fiber, and high in protein. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, while protein helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Lentils are also a low-glycemic food, which means they don't cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels. Beans and lentils can help to lower blood sugar naturally and they can also help to lower cholesterol and unclog your arteries naturally.
Now, who knew that sauerkraut could actually be good for lowering blood sugar levels? Well, it can be. Sauerkraut actually means sour cabbage. Yes, sour cabbage, and it's a German food, and it is fermented cabbage. And so the fermentation process helps to keep the bacteria off of the sauerkraut, and so it can be preserved for longer than regular cabbage.
It has a lot of the health benefits of regular fresh cabbage. Also, the fermentation is helpful in some ways. With sauerkraut, you have some probiotics which aid in digestion, and then sauerkraut is a low-calorie food. If you take a serving, of 1/2 cup of sauerkraut, that's only 16 calories. Also, sauerkraut has no carbohydrates, no cholesterol, and one serving of sauerkraut has just two grams of fiber.
One thing to watch out for with sauerkraut, even though it has all those health benefits I just mentioned, it can be loaded down with sodium. One serving of sauerkraut can have 219 milligrams of salt. And we know that in order to be healthy, in order to have good blood pressure, you want to have a low-salt diet. What does that mean? Moderation and just beware.
10. Leafy Green Vegetables
I have a feeling you already knew that. And so when we're dealing with leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens, all of these foods are low in calories. They're loaded down with vitamins, antioxidants, and beta-carotenes, and bulking up with these foods can help you to decrease the number of unhealthy foods that you eat and help you to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, a healthy weight, and maintain increased insulin sensitivity.
Now there are many, many more foods that can help you to lower your blood sugar naturally. And again, there's no one way to control diabetes in and of itself. It's comprehensive. Consult with your physician, and consult with your dietician as well. It's not always easy maintaining a healthy lifestyle, healthy habits, and eating all these healthy foods that help to lower your blood sugar levels. But it is important. Again, diabetes can lead to so many other health issues. I am a nephrologist, a board-certified kidney doctor, and a hypertension specialist. And the number one cause of patients being in my dialysis chair is diabetes.
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