A Guide to Choosing the Right Supplements for Diabetes

A Guide to Choosing the Right Supplements for Diabetes

Are you living with diabetes? If so, you may have heard that dietary supplements can help you manage your blood-sugar levels. But with so many supplements available, it can be hard to know which ones are best for you and your condition. In this blog we will look at the various supplements that may be beneficial for diabetes and give you a better idea of how to choose the best one for you.

What is Diabetes?

Millions of people worldwide are affected by diabetes. It happens when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or when it is unable to use its insulin efficiently. So what is Insulin? Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels.

When blood sugar levels are not regulated properly it can lead to a variety of health issues such as heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and kidney damage. Diabetes mellitus is the medical name of the condition where your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to control the amount of glucose in your blood. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder which causes the body to destroy its own insulin-producing cells. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body is either unable to produce enough insulin or is resistant to its effects.

There are various ways of managing diabetes, including diet, exercise, and medication. It was believed for many years that once type 2 diabetes had been diagnosed, there was no way back and a lifetime of medication was inevitable. It is now known that a determined attitude to lifestyle choices can put type 2 diabetes into remission and mean an end to the need for medication and its inevitable side effects. However, it is vital that the new healthy diet and exercise habits are sustained to allow your body to produce insulin and to keep blood glucose at a safe level.

Managing Diabetes

Diet

Losing weight where necessary and changing to a suitable diet has a very positive effect if you have diabetes. It also protects you if you are at risk from developing the condition and prevents it from progressing.

Fast-Track Diet

Some people choose to take a strict and fast route to putting their diabetes into remission. One such method is by switching from eating three ‘normal’ food diets each day to having three nutritious drinks in the form of shakes, plus two low calorie snacks.

This diet has been advocated by Dr Roy Taylor who is a Professor of Medicine and Metabolism at the University of Newcastle. Dr Taylor is also Honorary Consultant Physician at Newcastle Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. The findings of his extensive research into putting diabetes into remission is set out in a book entitled Life Without Diabetes and is written as a guide to doctors (who until recently believed that it was not possible to achieve remission once a diagnosis was made). It is also a book written for anyone who is living with diabetes and wishes to be free of a lifetime of medication.

The plan stipulates that provided you choose the brand of nutritious drink formulas carefully, ensuring they are medically approved, then this kind of diet will work quickly for you. This is because it ensures that your calorie intake is radically reduced, whilst protein and nutrients remain sufficient to keep you healthy and feeling satisfied. Once the desired weight loss is achieved, and whenever you have a slight weight gain, the liquid formula can be used, interspersed with a healthy diet plan, to get you back to your necessary weight quickly.

The Mediterranean Diet

Eating a Mediterranean diet has been found to be beneficial in reversing existing diabetes and maintaining a diabetes-free life.

A less rigid but very effective and medically acclaimed method of managing diabetes is The Mediterranean Diet, verified as a healthy, effective, and easy-to-stick-with diet, this one is also associated with lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as helping to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. It has also been found to make the body better able to use its insulin to regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. This style of eating has been found to be beneficial in reversing existing diabetes and maintaining a diabetes-free life.

What is the Mediterranean diet? It involves eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods with an emphasis on vegetables, fruit, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, and olive oil. It also recommends modest amounts of full milk, natural full-fat yogurt, as well as lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and eggs.

Red meats and processed foods are not encouraged but may be eaten in moderation. A small amount of red wine is good, but too much general alcohol is discouraged.

Interesting findings from studies show that eating this type of diet where heart-healthy fats are included, gives better results both for cardiac and diabetic protection, than adhering to a low-fat diet.

Diabetes UK have an excellent guide to help you incorporate this way of eating into your regular diet.

Exercise

Taking sufficient exercise is an essential part of helping put diabetes into remission and is a necessary part of keeping your weight at a safe level.

You may like the idea of using exercise routines posted on platforms such as YouTube or on a DVD. These can give a useful structure to your daily workout and can be done in the privacy of your own home. Exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous, and it is possible to keep fit with simply avoiding too much sitting. Gardening and tasks around the home are all meaningful activity for your body. On the other hand, you may find the challenge of something more strenuous acts as a motivational tool and helps you to extend yourself to join a walking group or take on a sponsored swim at your local pool.

Taking sufficient exercise is an essential part of helping put diabetes into remission

Many people who are struggling with weight loss find that non-weight bearing exercise such as aqua aerobics and cycling (even on a stationary bike in the gym) are a much less painful way to get exercise without putting strain on joints.

Diabetes UK have very clear and helpful suggestions to help you with the most appropriate exercise, no matter what stage you are at. If you are currently in the situation where you have been told you are in danger of becoming diabetic, you can establish the best forms of exercise that you feel will be most acceptable and effective and will fit into your routine. If you have been diabetic for some time and have complications such as heart issues, you may feel unsure about whether exercise could make matters worse. Your will find information and emotional support to help you keep active safely.

Diabetes and Dietary Supplements

Herbal supplements can be a beneficial addition to a diabetes management plan.

Medication to help control blood sugar levels and other symptoms are widely prescribed to diabetics, but some people also choose to supplement their treatment with dietary supplements which come in the form of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and certain other plant-based compounds.

Herbal supplements can be a beneficial addition to a diabetes management plan as some herbs may help to improve blood sugar control and reduce inflammation. Certain herbs can protect against heart disease and various other diabetes-related complications. As already discussed, weight management is an essential part of coping with diabetes and some herbs help to stimulate weight loss, which also helps with blood sugar control. Herbs that are known to help with type 2 diabetes include cinnamon, fenugreek, garlic, and ginseng, but there are other natural supplements that may help to support the fight against diabetes, namely magnesium, omega-3s, chromium, and alpha-lipoic acid.

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissue. Antioxidants help to neutralise these highly reactive molecules, reducing the damage they can cause.

If you have diabetes, you can use antioxidants to help reduce oxidative stress caused by high blood sugar which can damage cells and lead to diabetes-related complications such as nerve and kidney damage as well as vision problems. Antioxidants help reduce the inflammation which is a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and its associated conditions.

The following supplements have science-backed benefits for helping support the management of diabetes:

  • COQ10
  • Moringa
  • Trans Resveratrol
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3s
  • Chromium
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Some further information on these supplements:

Co Enzyme Q10

CoQ10 is a naturally occurring, highly antioxidant substance. It protects us from the ravages of ageing and is known to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also provides protection from those conditions associated with diabetes such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and liver disease. Studies have found that those with type 2 diabetes often have a CoQ10 deficiency.

Your body’s own cells produce Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) by means of bio- synthesis but ageing causes the body’s production of CoQ10 to diminish. It can’t be obtained from food, nor can it be restored by diet, but happily it is possible to take CoQ10 as a supplement. Studies have found that supplementing with CoQ10 at a dose of 100-300 milligrams daily can protect against the risk of chronic degenerative diseases.

Read more about CoQ10.

Moringa

A relative newcomer to the Western world, Moringa has a glowing history in its native India, as well as in Asia, Africa and South America where it also grows, and has been acclaimed as the most nutritious plant in the world. Moringa contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Some of the beneficial compounds found in moringa are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 – thiamine, B2 – riboflavin, B3 – niacin, B6
  • Folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

Taking moringa leaf extract as a supplement to help manage diabetes has been backed by clinical studies which have found it to be helpful in reducing the amount of glucose in the blood, as well as sugar and protein in the urine. It was also found to improve haemoglobin levels and overall protein content in those tested.

Find out more about Moringa.

Trans Resveratrol

This polyphenol has been identified in more than 70 plant species but especially in the skin and seeds of grapes. It has properties that attack pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. Studies have found that resveratrol holds a very high antioxidant activity and has shown promising antitumour potential. These properties have been verified by many studies which show that resveratrol can inhibit all carcinogenesis stages, including the progression of existing tumours.

Scientists Renaud and De Lorgeril were the researchers who made the discovery that polyphenols such as resveratrol in red wine had health benefits. They reported that regular, moderate consumption of red wine was helpful to health. Since this discovery, resveratrol attracted more scientific attention resulting in many publications.

In the 1940s resveratrol was first isolated from the roots of the white hellebore but then found to be present in many other plants, including Japanese knot weed. From 1960s it was used as a nutritional supplement with many pharmacological benefits, including cellular defensive protection against oxidative stress.

It has now been given the scientific and clinical thumbs-up for beneficial health effects including anticancer, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, antiaging, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and blood-sugar lowering properties.

Our supplement is Trans-Resveratrol (sourced from Japanese knot weed), and Quercetin (sourced from the Japanese pagoda tree). The addition of just 2% Quercetin to our product gives it a higher level of bioavailability than trans-resveratrol alone would give. Read more about Trans-Resveratrol & Quercetin.

Magnesium

An essential mineral that helps regulate glucose and insulin levels in the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to both produce and use insulin. It also helps to reduce insulin resistance, which is a major factor in diabetes. Magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar levels by supporting the movement of glucose into cells and reducing the amount of sugar that is released into the bloodstream.

Magnesium is also able to help to reduce inflammation, a further problem of diabetes. Studies have found that a deficiency in magnesium is likely to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, higher levels of magnesium have been associated with improved glucose control in those with diabetes. Read about Magnesium Bisglycinate.

Omega-3

Essential fatty acids that play an important role in human health. Studies have found that consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Omega-3s may also help improve blood sugar control and reduce insulin resistance. It has been found that Omegas also help to reduce the inflammation associated with diabetes. As this inflammation is what leads to complications, by reducing it, omega-3s may help lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and eye problems.

One other plus point for omega-3s is that they help with weight loss and weight management, and this is an important plus point in the fight against diabetes. Read about Vegan Omega-3 capsules sourced from algae.

Chromium

Chromium is an essential trace mineral thought to play an important role in supporting people with diabetes. It helps to enhance the action of insulin, reduces insulin resistance, and provides better glucose tolerance. Additionally, it improves fat and cholesterol metabolism, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research has found that supplementing with chromium may help to reduce both fatigue and weight gain, two well-known symptoms associated with diabetes.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Commonly known as ALA, alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant which is found naturally in the body. It has been used for many years to treat a wide range of conditions, including diabetes. ALA helps to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce oxidative stress. It also helps to lower blood sugar levels, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. ALA can also help to improve nerve health, reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

It is available as a supplement and is also found in various foods so is easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Foods that contain ALA are:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Rice bran

Red meat and offal contain higher quantities of ALA than vegetables, but supplements contain approximately 1,000 times more than food sources can supply.

Reducose®

Reducose® is a proprietary and patented water extract of the leaves of the white mulberry (Morus alba) that turns fast carbohydrates into slow ones. Taking it as a dietary supplement with a meal lowers the glycaemic index of the food and lowering the postprandial blood glucose response as it stops the carbohydrate being digested. A fantastic benefit of Reducose® is that it works immediately and the effects can be observed in real time using glucose monitors.

The product page has links to studies carried out showing the effectiveness of Reducose®.

Medical Advice

If you are currently taking medication for diabetes it is advisable, before taking dietary supplements, to speak to your healthcare provider to ensure your choice of supplements will not react badly with your medication. It may well happen that your pharmaceutical medication can be reduced when you are taking supplements.

Further Information and Support for Diabetics

Diabetes UK have extremely helpful information on all the various forms of diabetes and advice on how best to manage them. They also give information to those who have been told they have pre-diabetes to help them avoid a diagnosis in the future.

As well as information on ways to prevent or achieve remission, they give diet plans and realistic exercise goals.

Our Promise

When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to help where we can.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.