Bored of the usual lifestyle and healthy eating advice? To spice up your diabetes management, this article will reveal a list of foods that lower blood glucose based on best available research. Consider these as a complement to your current diet! But remember, this is not intended to replace any medical advice.
There was a famous quote by the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. There is some truth behind this, emphasizing the importance of a healthy diet on our general health and wellbeing. Through the years of modern medicine, we understand the complexity of the human body and its interaction with the environment and the food we eat. For diabetes, there are no absolute restrictions but rather a holistic balance between food patterns, culture, carbohydrate quality, and quantities and nutritional adequacy. Although there tends to be a focus on macro and micronutrients, food is much more than that.
List Of Foods That Lower Blood Glucose
The effects of some bioactive compounds found in food are in the pipeline for future research. Needless to say, research is a tedious process. Here is what we know of some common foods recommended for people with diabetes:
1. Bitter gourd
You can enjoy this vegetable cooked in a soup, curry or stir-fried in Asian cuisines! It is used as a traditional medicine for centuries but recently with a focus on its anti-diabetic properties. Bitter gourd juice or dried powder are other common forms of consumption.
Bitter gourd contains many medicinal components. The reduction in blood glucose can be attributed to several modes of action with an insulin-like effect. This includes increased uptake of glucose from the bloodstream to the liver, cell uptake and release of insulin. Although there is a large number of research studies on the bitter gourd, it is mostly experimented in rats and not humans. Clinical guidelines state that bitter gourd is ineffective in lowering HbA1C of more than 0.5%.
A trial on type 2 diabetic patients in 2011 showed a significant reduction in blood glucose with intake of 2000mg/day of bitter gourd. However, this effect is less than taking 1000mg of Metformin, a commonly prescribed drug. Pregnant women should not consume bitter gourd supplements. Moderation is recommended because having more than 60g may cause mild abdominal pain or diarrhea. There are also some safety concerns of hypoglycemia in patients on insulin or certain diabetes medication.
African or South Asian cuisines commonly include okra (AKA ladies finger). Some people reported soaking sliced okra in water and drinking it. Some claim that improvement in blood glucose control is due to the slimy gel. Traditional Turkish medicine uses roasted okra seeds to treat diabetes.
Nutritionally speaking, okra is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre. This helps lower blood cholesterol and slows the rise of blood glucose after a meal.
A study on pregnant rats with gestational diabetes found that okra extract helped decrease blood glucose. The study claims that the antioxidant effect of okra reduces insulin resistance. There is no conclusive benefit due to the limited human trials for okra and diabetes management.
Chinese and Korean cultures have used Ginseng as a traditional medicine for centuries. The root of the plant is often used as medication. However, the leaves and berries were also found to have some health benefits. This is either boiled as a soup or dried and powdered as a supplement. Ginseng contains an active component known as ginsenosides. Currently, scientists have identified over 150 ginsenosides.
Numerous studies have found that ginseng is used to treat different health conditions. Interestingly, different types of ginseng vary in potency due to the amount of ginsenosides present. Korean/Chinese ginseng contains higher levels of ginsenosides compared to American ginseng.
Research has shown that ginseng is effective in reducing fasting blood glucose for people with diabetes and without. However, if you are already on insulin or diabetic medications, it is not as effective. Additionally, intake of ginseng does not seem to improve HbA1C or have much influence on blood glucose after a meal. Aside from this, ginseng improves total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol.
Although studies prove that ginseng is generally safe for use, it is not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women. Patients on insulin, oral hypoglycemic agents or anticoagulants (eg. warfarin) need to be cautious when taking ginseng.
There is, in fact, quite an extensive list of foods that lower blood glucose across the world. But, research done on humans are still lacking. Some of these may also have safety concerns in high doses. Natural therapies approved by clinical guidelines to treat diabetes have yet to exist. So do not bet on a list of foods that lower blood glucose as your primary treatment! For more interesting ideas to lower blood glucose, click here.