Diabetes is typically managed with a combination of prescription drugs and lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. However, there are also some home remedies and supplements that can be added to the daily routine. Which are some of the best supplements and remedies for diabetes? Let’s review them in this article.
Increase dietary fiber
Fibers from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are essential for optimal health, and even more important for those with diabetes. Fibers regulate blood sugar levels, promote healthy weight, and may prevent complications like heart diseases.
Ideally. Most Americans consume 6-8 grams of fiber per day, which is way below the 30 grams recommended for optimal health. In addition to consuming fiber-rich foods, supplements like psyllium husk, and adding hemp, flax, or chia seeds to salads help increase the dietary intake of fibers. Diabetes-friendly diets such as the Mediterranean diet and low glycemic index (GI) diet include plenty of plant-based foods and healthy amounts of fibers. Low carbohydrate and very low carb(ketogenic) diets contain lower amounts of fiber and thus supplementation is needed.
Vitamin D deficiency is a major problem worldwide, and even more for those living away from the equator because of less exposure to the sun. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of both diabetes type 1 and 2, as it causes insulin resistance and inflammatory damage to the insulin-producing cells. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, which is needed for insulin secretion, and regulates genes related to increased risk of diabetes. This nutrient may also prevent complications of diabetes including heart diseases, nerve, and eye complications. The typical adult dose is between 1000-4000 IU vitamin D daily.
All B vitamins play an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and are also important for the brain, nerve, and heart health. Vitamin B12 deficiency correlates with diabetes type 2 and complications of diabetes like neuropathy. Furthermore, using the diabetes drug metformin also increases the risk of B 12 deficiency. Vitamins B1, B6, and folic acid are also important to prevent neuropathy and overall better manage diabetes. While some supplements are based on single B vitamins, a B complex formula may be a better choice as they work synergistically and one B vitamin helps absorb the other.
Magnesium, chromium, and other minerals
A high-quality, multimineral formula may be a great addition to diabetes management. Multiple mineral deficiencies, particularly magnesium, chromium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and vanadium are associated with increased risk of diabetes and poor glycemic control. Magnesium and other minerals support healthy blood sugar levels, and insulin sensitivity, and may also prevent complications of diabetes. Unless diabetes is associated with iron deficiency anemia, an iron-free multi-mineral is a better choice. Magnesium citrate, glycinate, or ionic magnesium and chelated forms of minerals are better absorbed and utilized in the body, although a little bit more expensive compared with the formulas commonly found in grocery stores.
Beyond giving flavor to beverages and desserts, cinnamon has true health benefits. A 2013 review/meta-analysis of multiple studies reveal that the consumption of cinnamon is correlated with “statistically significant” reduction of fasting plasma glucose, and improvement in blood lipids levels (total cholesterol, LDL-C, triglyceride, and HDL-C) Researchers did not note a significant impact of cinnamon on hemoglobin A1c levels, which show how well is diabetes controlled long term. The daily dose of cinnamon tested in studies ranged from 120 mg to 6 g for a period of 4 to 18 weeks.
Berberine is a key active ingredient in several plants including goldenseal and berberis. Widely used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine, berberine has strong antimicrobial and hypoglycemic effects. In fact, some studies found berberine has comparable effects with prescription diabetes drug metformin, rosiglitazone, and glipizide. Berberine was also researched in combination with diabetes medications. The typical dose used in studies was between 600 and 1200 mg daily. Higher doses (ie up to 2700 mg) also appear to be effective and have a good safety profile. Berberine works through multiple mechanisms: it promotes insulin production, regulates the metabolism, increases the breakdown of the glucose while reducing the production of glucose made in the liver. Furthermore, it also seems to slow the absorption of the dietary carbohydrates in the intestine and increase the production of nitric oxide. This may also prevent heart complications related to diabetes. Due to its antimicrobial effects, berberine can also help prevent infections that are more common in those with diabetes.
Vitamins, minerals, and fibers can be safely used at home, following the instructions on the labels. Ideally, the daily dose of vitamin D should be taken based on a vitamin D blood test, as some may require higher doses. For optimal benefits, it is important to seek advice from a healthcare professional specialized in natural supplements before using berberine. Close monitoring of the blood sugar levels is needed, because using berberine may require lower doses of prescription drugs.