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Type 2 diabetes is the eventual outcome of a dysfunction in the body, namely an inability to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels or the insulin produced is not being sufficiently taken up by the cells. This has grave implications because high blood sugar – the main type of sugar absorbed into the bloodstream – can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels. The hormone insulin is usually tasked with keeping a check on blood sugar levels.
There are ways to compensate for the faulty supply and distribution of insulin in the body, however.
If you have diabetes, you can enhance insulin production and cell uptake by making healthy dietary decisions.
Research has alighted on specific items that perform this function particularly well.
Ginseng – a herb that has been a staple of Chinese medicine for centuries – has displayed such promise.
The herb comes in many varieties but it is American and Asian ginseng that has been shown to improve pancreatic cell function, boost insulin production and enhance the uptake of blood sugar in tissues.
Moreover, studies show that ginseng extracts help by providing antioxidant protection that reduce free radicals in the cells of those with diabetes.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that play a role in the development of a host of chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
One study assessed the effects of six grams of Korean red ginseng, along with the usual anti-diabetic medication or diet, in 19 people with type 2 diabetes.
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Interestingly, they were able to maintain good blood sugar control throughout the 12-week study.
They also had an 11 percent decrease in blood sugar levels, a 38 percent decrease in fasting insulin and a 33 percent increase in insulin sensitivity.
Fasting insulin levels is a barometer primarily used to assess insulin sensitivity.
Another study showed that American ginseng helped improve blood sugar levels in 10 healthy people after they performed a sugary drink test.
General tips to control blood sugar levels
Zeroing in on blood sugar-lowering champions can help to control blood sugar levels but there are general dietary principles to heed.
There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
Diabetes.co.uk explains: “Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose relatively quickly and therefore has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than either fat or protein.”
Generally, you should opt for carbs that rank low on the glycaemic index (GI) – a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates.
It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
- Some fruit and vegetables
- Wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.
Physical exercise also helps lower your blood sugar level – you should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week, adds the NHS.
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