5 natural ways to beat diabetes
The best way to control your diabetes is to become more active in managing the disease. Talk with your doctor about an exercise and diet plan, and then ask about these natural remedies that just might make life a little easier.
Cornstarch does more than just thicken your gravy. It’s a starch that’s digested and absorbed slowly, so it helps maintain a stable amount of glucose in your bloodstream over a period of time. It can also head off trouble if you have insulin-dependent (type I) diabetes.
Type I diabetics are particularly prone to low blood glucose levels overnight. Researchers discovered that uncooked cornstarch dissolved in a nonsugary drink, such as milk or sugar-free soda, helped control diabetics’ blood glucose levels overnight. But remember — before trying this remedy, talk with your doctor.
Look for new snack bars that contain sucrose, protein, and uncooked cornstarch. These three ingredients release glucose at different speeds, giving you both immediate and long-term help for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
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2. Hot tubs
You may think there’s nothing more relaxing than soaking in a hot tub, but did you ever think it could help your diabetes? Some experts say it improves blood flow to your muscles, just like exercise. This could be especially important to diabetics who are unable to exercise.
In one study, diabetics who soaked for a half-hour each day, six days a week, for three weeks, lost weight, lowered their average blood glucose level, slept better, and generally felt healthier. One participant was even able to reduce his insulin by 18 percent.
Before you take the plunge, here are some things to watch out for.
- If the water is very hot and you stand up quickly or exit the hot tub in a hurry, you may become dizzy. This can be dangerous if you’re not holding onto a handrail for support.
- If you’ve lost feeling in your feet due to diabetic neuropathy, make sure the water isn’t so hot it can burn your skin.
- Monitor the chemicals in your hot tub. They are there to kill harmful bacteria. Soaking in hot water can leave your skin vulnerable to injury and infection.
3. Capsaicin cream
If diabetes has left you suffering from troublesome skin pain, try this natural remedy — capsaicin skin cream. It’s made from the same red peppers you use to spice up your chili. When applied to your skin, it is absorbed and gradually deadens nerves that transmit pain. It may take two to four weeks to bring on any noticeable changes, but hang in there.
It’s a natural, safe alternative that’s proved effective for several painful conditions, including arthritis and shingles. Look for capsaicin products in cream or lotion form. They are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose, or sugar, out of your bloodstream and into your cells. Chromium is the mineral that helps insulin do its work. Several studies prove chromium supplements help diabetics lower their blood sugar and improve their insulin levels. And taking chromium dramatically improved the severe shaking, blurred vision, sleepiness, and heavy sweating for a group of people with hypoglycemia.
If more research confirms these numbers, experts say chromium supplements may become standard treatment for diabetes. If you choose to supplement your diet with chromium, aim for at least 200 mcg a day. Some experts even recommend taking as much as 1,000 mcg a day.
Keep in mind that this far exceeds the Institute of Medicine’s Adequate Intake of 20 mcg a day for women over 50 and 30 mcg a day for men over 50. Although chromium seems safe, there is a lack of information about the long-term effects of chromium supplementation, especially at high doses.
To get more chromium naturally, eat asparagus, beef, brewer’s yeast, calves’ liver, chicken, dairy products, eggs, fish and seafood, mushrooms, nuts, potatoes with skin, prunes, whole-grain products, and fresh fruit, especially apples with skin.
5. Milk thistle
Silybum marianum, also known as silymarin, is an herb whose seeds, fruit, and leaves have been used for food and medicine for over 2,000 years. Although a popular treatment for liver disorders, early research indicates milk thistle may be helpful for diabetics. It seems to lower glucose levels without causing hypoglycemia. This may help in preventing and treating diabetic complications. Even though several herbal experts support using milk thistle for liver problems, the research is still too new for diabetes. Talk with your doctor about this natural treatment and be on the lookout for more news.
- FC&A Staff Writer