by Dr. Will Cole
A staggering 50 percent of us are now either prediabetic or have full-blown type 2 diabetes. No, that is not a typo; one out of two of us have some serious blood sugar problems, making a condition that was once a rarity completely commonplace.
Much of the blood sugar problems we see today are due to one thing: insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that directs blood sugar into cells to create energy in the form of ATP, but when you become resistant to its effects, your cell receptor sites are blunted and you’re left with a backup of insulin and blood sugar, which is no bueno. If this condition goes on for too long without intervention, you could get diabetes, which is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes!
Know the signs of blood sugar imbalance
If more than one of these is true for you, I suggest getting your blood sugar levels checked stat.
- You crave sweets or breads and pastries….a lot!
- Eating sweets doesn’t relieve your sugar cravings and even increases them.
- You become irritable and “hangry” if you miss a meal.
- You find yourself needing caffeine to get through the day.
- You become lightheaded if you miss a meal.
- Eating makes you exhausted and in need of a nap.
- It’s difficult for you to lose weight.
- You feel weak, shaky, or jittery pretty frequently.
- You have to pee a lot.
- You get agitated, easily upset, or nervous, out of proportion to the reason for these feelings.
- Your memory is not what it used to be.
- Your vision is blurry.
- Your waist measurement is equal to or larger than your hip measurements.
- You have an atypically low sex drive.
- You’re always thirsty.
Natural ways to improve blood sugar balance
You don’t have to settle for a future of diabetes. Intervene now with these tips for restoring a healthy blood sugar/insulin balance.
1. Find your baseline.
The labs I run on my patients to assess their blood sugar balance and check for insulin resistance are:
- Serum insulin: Optimal Range: < 3 ulU/mL
- C-peptide: Optimal Range: 0.8 to 3.1 ng/mL
- Fasting blood sugar: Optimal Range: 75 to 90 mg/dL
- Hgb A1C: Optimal Range: < 5.3 percent
- Triglycerides: Optimal Range: < 100 mg/dL
- HDL: Optimal Range: 59 to 100 mg/dL
2. Sip on matcha.
EGCG is a compound in green tea, EGCG has demonstrated a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels. Drinking the whole green tea leaf in the form of matcha powder is a great way to up your ECGC intake.
3. Try alpha-lipoic acid.
In several studies, alpha-lipoic acid supplements helped balance blood sugar levels and improved insulin resistance. This antioxidant also strengthens immunity, improves energy production in cells, protects brain cells against excitotoxicity, and helps the body remove excess toxic metals. For blood sugar control, take 200 milligrams three times a day.
4. Take magnesium.
According to research published in the medical journal Circulation, in a group of nearly 5,000 people, those who took higher levels of magnesium over a period of 15 years had a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that is often a precursor to diabetes. A similar study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed more than 1,000 healthy adults for five years and found that greater magnesium intake improved insulin sensitivity. Other studies have shown that magnesium improves triglycerides and high blood pressure – two other hallmarks of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
5. Add chromium.
When chromium levels are low, good cholesterol tends to drop and the risk of insulin resistance, as well as triglyceride levels, go up. Chromium supplementation has been shown to improve blood sugar receptor function. The best food sources of chromium include onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and sea vegetables.
6. Increase Nrf-2.
The protein Nrf-2 plays a role in regulating antioxidant gene induction by turning on genes that are responsible for antioxidant and detox pathways. When Nrf-2 is activated, inflammation tends to subside. There are many antioxidant rich foods that tend to activate Nrf-2, including:
- EGCG from green tea
- Quercetin from apples
- Curcumin from turmeric
- Resveratrol from grapes
- Rosmarinic acid from rosemary
- L-sulforaphane from broccoli
- Thiosulfonateallicin from garlic
7. Bring in vitamin E.
This fat-soluble tocopherol has been shown to support insulin sensitivity. Standard doses range between 600 and 900 milligrams.
8. Sprinkle cinnamon.
Proanthocyanidin, a bioflavonoid found in cinnamon, may alter the insulin-signaling activity in fat cells, making it a potential diabetes buster. The spice has also been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.
9. Seal and heal the gut.
Your gut health and blood sugar balance are inextricably connected – one study found that transplanting the microbiome of diabetic mice into healthy mice made the recipients diabetic! Among the culprits are advanced glycation end products (AGE) – harmful compounds that have the potential to cause leaky gut. A high sugar diet can also tip your microbiome in the wrong direction, causing candida overgrowth, which is also linked to blood sugar problems. What’s good for your gut is good for your blood sugar, and vice versa.
10. Get more sun.
Most people have low vitamin D levels, which can cause a host of problems, but in one study, supplementing with vitamin D for 12 weeks decreased body fat by 7 percent, and lower weight correlates with better blood sugar control. Low D levels have also been linked to metabolic syndrome. Aim for 60 to 80 ng/mL per day.
11. Eat more healthy fats.
One study found that higher blood sugar in non-diabetics decreased function in areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This is one reason why Alzheimer’s is often referred to in the medical literature as “type 3 diabetes.” On the other hand, a ketogenic diet – where fat, not sugar, is your primary source of energy – has been shown to do some remarkable things for your brain health.
Healthy fats provide a slow, sustainable form of energy, subverting the more drastic ups and downs that can happen with sugar burning. Humans were meant to rely more on fat and less on sugar – for example, babies primarily use the fat in breast milk for brain development and energy. From a biological and evolutionary perspective, the most sustainable form of energy for optimal brain health as well as blood sugar control is healthy natural fat.
12. Take B-vitamins for the win.
Methylation is a complex process that supports many crucial function in the body, including healthy blood sugar balance. Activated B vitamins – like B9 L-Methylfolate (L-5-MTHF) and B6 Pyridoxyl-5-Phosphate (P5P) – are a great way to support methylation pathways. Food medicines to focus on are spinach, okra, and turnip greens, and meats like chicken liver or grass-fed beef liver, which have the highest levels of bioavailable B vitamins.
13. Activate your PPARs.
Studies suggest that PPARs, or peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, may help improve inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis, asthma, colitis, MS, and other autoimmune conditions. Some PPAR activators for you to bring into your life: wild-caught fish, green tea, astragalus, ginger, and sea buckthorn.
14. Get your omega-3s on.
You’ve probably heard that omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of stroke and heart attacks, but these healthy fats most prevalent in fish oil also convert the potentially harmful very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), which are linked to diabetes, into less dangerous low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
15. Never forget adaptogens!
Adaptogens are awesome at balancing out hormones and inflammation. A study found the adaptogen American ginseng berry juice could significantly improve glucose tolerance and normal bloods sugar levels after just 10 days.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.