Individuals diagnosed with insulin resistance or overt type II diabetes can often reverse or control their condition through lifestyle and dietary changes. Some dietary supplements may also help diabetics improve their health.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant naturally present in liver, spinach, and broccoli. When taken orally in capsule form, alpha lipoic acid may increase glucose uptake by the muscles and improve the body’s overall sensitivity to insulin. It appears to be quite safe with no side effects; however, when first starting to take alpha lipoic acid, people with diabetes should test their blood sugar levels frequently because the increase in insulin sensitivity may cause blood sugar levels to drop. Some individuals experience an upset stomach when taking alpha lipoic acid on an empty stomach, and therefore it is best taken after or during a meal.
Taking ginseng immediately before a meal can reduce post-meal blood sugar levels. It appears to act by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Adding cinnamon to a meal may also help reduce post-meal blood sugar levels. However, the amount of cinnamon necessary to achieve any effect may make the food inedible. In studies, volunteers had to consume at least a teaspoon of the spice to noticeably affect post-meal blood sugar levels.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin used by the body when converting food into energy inside cells; it also acts as an antioxidant. It is naturally found in meat and fish. Although coenzyme Q10 doesn’t appear to directly help in controlling diabetes, it may have a role in preventing cardiovascular disease. Individuals with diabetes are at an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Coenzyme Q10 can interact with blood pressure medications and anticoagulants, and therefore individuals taking these types of medications should consult a doctor before taking coenzyme Q10.
Similar to coenzyme Q10, garlic may help prevent cardiovascular disease in individuals with diabetes. There is also some limited evidence suggesting garlic can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Garlic can interact with a large number of medications, including birth control pills, antivirals, and anticoagulants. Anyone taking any kind of prescription medication should discuss taking garlic with a doctor. Garlic can also cause body odor, rashes, and diarrhea.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, naturally found in seafood, are another weapon people with diabetes can use against cardiovascular disease. When taken in high doses as a supplement, they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation, and lower triglyceride levels. They can, however, interact with medications for high blood pressure and anticoagulants, and therefore individuals taking such medications should consult a doctor before taking this supplement.
Chromium is a mineral naturally found in meat and fish. Although it is often touted as a useful supplement for individuals with diabetes, there is no evidence to support its use. In addition, chromium can cause kidney damage, gastrointestinal tract bleeding, insomnia, weight gain, and behavioral changes.
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