Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

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Due to a constant increase in people with diabetes, pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome, I felt it would be a good idea for a quick refresher course on what supplements can be used to help with blood sugar and insulin resistance issues.  Be cognizant that supplements are only part of the equation though. You need to maintain healthy eating and activity habits while incorporating these supplements.  

With regards to supplements for blood sugar control, I always start with minerals, primarily, Chromium, Magnesium and Vanadium.  We are a mineral deficient society due to our over consumption of processed foods.  Processing takes out the good in most cases and often times companies need to “fortify” the foods to put back what they just processed out.  Recent research has shown that people with blood sugar control usually have low blood levels of these three key minerals.  Research from the 1900s showed that Chromium-rich Brewer’s yeast was helpful in restoring blood sugar levels.  Current research shows that chromium supplementation with doses as high as 1000mcg per day has been helpful at improving glucose tolerance in those with Type II diabetes.  You should consult with your health care provider before using high doses of any supplement.  Magnesium consumption has shown to improve insulin production in those with Type II Diabetes. The last of the three minerals I recommend is Vanadium.  Most people haven’t heard of this mineral yet research has shown that it helps improve glucose control in as little as 6 weeks.

Another supplement that is helpful with supporting healthy blood sugar levels is Alpha Lipoic Acid.  Alpha Lipoic Acid could end up being the big winner in the future for those with blood sugar control issues.  This supplement has been shown to increase the burning of glucose.  It protects not only against the dysfunction that causes diabetes, but also against the damage caused by the disease.  Carnipure (l-carnitine) is a popular dietary supplement because it has been shown to produce many health benefits, one of which is control blood sugar.  Carnipure improves insulin sensitivity, increases glucose storage, and optimizes carbohydrate metabolism.

Herbs work great (maybe better) too. There are several that stand out above the rest: Gymnema, Cinnamon, Maitake and Bitter melon.  Gymnema has been shown to improve the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar levels in both Type I and Type II diabetes.  It seems to help in three areas-decreasing insulin resistance, block glucose absorption and increase the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas.  Cinnamon (yes, the spice) extract is known to improve blood sugar levels and lipid levels in those with Type II diabetes.  The extract of Maitake (Sx Fraction) has also been shown to be extremely helpful for those with interest in blood sugar control.  Bitter melon contains different compounds that have a multi-pronged attack against elevated blood sugar levels.

For those with dietary issues, adding Phase 2 to all starch containing meals will have a profound impact on blood sugar levels too.  Phase 2 is a starch blocker meaning it inhibits the starches found in our meals from being broken down into sugar.  By decreasing the amount of sugar produced from starchy foods, we will have a direct impact on the amount of sugar being absorbed into the bloodstream.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with what starches are, check out a recent blog post “Carbs 101” http://herbalpharmacist.com/carbs-101/ to learn more.  Bottom line, we are a carb-addicted society and adding Phase 2 to your supplement program will help not only with your blood sugar, but waist-line and cholesterol.

If you are looking to take control of balancing your blood sugar, then you need to be aware that popping a pill or pills is not the answer.  Even if you subject yourself to the pharmaceutical answers to blood sugar control, you are not going to “cure” yourself of the problem without other lifestyle modifications.  I firmly believe that the answer to your problem lies in proper diet and activity.  If you can get these two aspects under control, supplementing or taking prescribed medications will not be necessary in most cases.  The choice is yours, but in the meantime, you now have some tools to assist your body in overcoming your blood sugar issues.