There are three types of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes type 1 is an incurable autoimmune condition that requires daily insulin injections and careful blood sugar management.
Diabetes type 2 is brought on by lifestyle factors and can usually be diet controlled, however in some cases insulin is also a requirement. Gestational diabetes is a symptom of pregnancy (brought on by hormones) that usually disappears after giving birth, however can lead to complications if not managed effectively.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates how the body uses and stores glucose. Insulin stabilises blood sugar levels, preventing hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), both of which can result in serious illness.
All types of diabetes are a condition in which the body is unable to maintain stable blood sugar levels because it either is unable to produce insulin (as with type 1 diabetes) or doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep up with sugar intake (as with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes).
While each has quite a different cause within the body, they can all be managed in similar ways.
Dietary management It is important with all types of diabetes to avoid blood sugar spikes, so a diet that carefully manages the correct levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates is vital. Whenever carbohydrates are consumed, it is a good idea to also combine protein and fat in order to maintain consistent blood sugar levels. When you do consume carbohydrates, it’s important to avoid sugary simple carbohydrates that cause dramatic blood sugar spikes and stick to complex carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains that are more likely to help you sustain a healthy blood sugar level. Garlic, onion and kumara are particularly good vegetables to help manage glucose levels.
Chromium is a mineral that can help to maintain a more consistent blood sugar level by improving the way the body uses insulin. For all people with diabetes, whether insulin injections are required or not, this can support the body to use insulin more efficiently and may reduce the need or frequency for additional insulin.
Inositol used to be referred to as vitamin B8, however it has since been discovered that it is not a vitamin at all but actually a type of sugar. It positively influences the role of insulin in the body as well as affecting other chemical messengers in the brain.
Gymnema is a traditional ayurvedic medicine with studies that show significant effects in lowering blood sugar. It can also help to prevent sugar cravings, therefore allowing for a lower sugar diet to be more easily maintained.
The effects of cinnamon on blood sugar levels has been studied and proven to allow for much more stable glucose readings after just two weeks. This could easily be included in your daily meals, however be sure to use traditional Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka, Cinnamomum verum, as this has the most potent benefits.
Other herbs that can be beneficial in the management of blood sugar levels include bilberry, ginger, fenugreek and turmeric.
When adding vitamins, minerals or herbs to your diet to manage your blood sugar levels more effectively, make sure you keep a close eye on your glucose readings to prevent an unexpected diabetic low. If you are pregnant, please consult with your health professional.