The need to keep blood sugar levels under control is a necessity not just for diabetics, but for anyone looking to slow the aging process and maintain optimal health. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels not only suppress the immune system, but can lead to excess weight and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, by glazing red blood cells with a layer of glucose, causing them to stick together. This stickiness can slow blood circulation and lead to LDL (bad) cholesterol accumulation in blood vessels and arteries, encouraging a process of degeneration that supports disease and accelerated aging.
Aside from cutting back on simple (sugars are simple carbohydrates) and complex carbohydrates (which convert into glucose), you can complement your diet with a number of effective natural supplements that have been proven scientifically to support healthy blood sugar metabolism, so that the sugar you eat doesn’t linger in the blood and wreak havoc. The following are five readily available supplements to try.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon? Yes, cinnamon. But don’t confuse it with the cinnamon in a churro or cinnabun—the cinnamon there is mixed with so much sugar on top of white bread (complex carbohydrate without the fiber to slow down its conversion to glucose), that any benefit is easily overpowered. And not all cinnamon is the same—make sure to use Ceylon cinnamon specifically, the most effective form to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Chromium: Chromium is a trace mineral found in sea salt, but it’s sorely lacking in the typical diet. It works by directly improving the body’s ability to produce insulin. Diabetics and pre-diabetics tend to be deficient in this essential mineral, so much so that chromium deficiency has been shown to act as a cause entirely on its own for diabetes, based on experimental trials on animals and humans, according to The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs.
- Gymnema Sylvestre: Gymnema is an Ayurvedic medicine known as “sugar destroyer,” for its ability to dull the taste of sugar on the tongue, but it also regulates sugar levels in the blood, based in research tests that showed that gymnema supplementation lowers serum glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (formed when hemoglobin reacts with sugar) levels over time.
- Bitter Melon: An herb in Chinese medicine used for hundreds of years to treat diabetes, bitter melon has been analyzed by Western scientists to contain substances that stimulate AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), which aid in controlling blood sugar levels by modulating insulin secretion, and improving the metabolism of sugar out of the blood and into cells more efficiently, where sugar can be expended as energy.
- Bilberry: Bilberry works on multiple fronts to combat high blood sugar. A recent Japanese study found that bilberry extract lowers blood glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity by stimulating AMPK and increasing the number of glucose transporters in the blood.