supplements to lower blood sugar

Best Supplements to Lower Blood Sugar

Helping You Manage Your Blood Glucose

When it comes to vibrant health and balanced energy, blood glucose balance is an important foundation. In my practice as a holistic nutritionist, getting blood sugar under control is often the first step I take when working with my clients.

Best Blood Sugar Supplements

Now that we understand the importance of blood glucose balance, let’s take a look at some of the best-researched supplements that you can take to help reduce blood sugar.

1. Aloe Vera

While you might be most familiar with this plant as a balm for cuts or burns in the kitchen, consuming the juice has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels and A1C (a measure of blood glucose levels over three months) in those with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It’s believed to work by stimulating insulin in the pancreas; this hasn’t been officially confirmed by widespread studies.

2. Berberine

I use this supplement often in my practice because it supports blood glucose balance and is an anti-inflammatory. It’s a bitter extract from plants, such as barberry, goldenseal and Oregon grape. This meta-analysis found that taking berberine in addition to diet and lifestyle modifications was more effective in lowering blood sugar levels than diet and lifestyle interventions on their own and a placebo.

3. Chromium

Research shows that individuals with chromium deficiency are at great risk for developing type 2 diabetes. That’s because chromium is a mineral that helps the body efficiently and effectively utilize the carbohydrates we consume and convert them into energy. Without this nutrient, our insulin needs increase, so supplementing with it can help enhance the effect of insulin.

4. Cinnamon

One of my favorite supplements is more of a food (though you can get it in capsule form if that’s easier): cinnamon! This spice not only tastes delicious but has been found to help reduce blood sugar by helping your cells become more responsive to the effects of insulin. Benefits are typically seen when taking about one teaspoon a day regularly.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is unfortunately quite common in the US due to more time spent indoors and our inability to synthesize it from the sun in many regions. Amongst other issues, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, with one study finding that roughly 72% of those with this condition were deficient. Supplementation may help improve the body’s response to insulin while increasing the function of pancreatic cells that produce it. Getting your vitamin D tested by a doctor can help you determine the appropriate supplement dosage for your needs.

6. Gymnema Sylvestre

Gymnema Sylvestre has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries thanks to its incredible health benefits that modern research is finally catching up on. It can help reduce blood sugar in a couple of interesting ways. It reduces cravings for sweet foods by blocking sweet receptors on the tongue and making them taste less appealing. It can also lower blood glucose by blocking absorption in the intestines–less sugar absorbed means less in your bloodstream, causing spikes and crashes. You’ll want to take between 200 and 400 mg to see the benefits.

Often, this doesn’t necessarily mean changing everything about the diet but making simple shifts to how we combine foods. The major focus is always on ensuring each meal contains protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates and fiber. Sometimes, my clients need a little extra support, and that’s where we can turn to targeted supplementation to reduce blood sugar.

Why is Blood Sugar Balance Important?

When our blood sugar is out of control, it can lead to a host of symptoms, such as:

  • Food cravings.
  • Low energy.
  • Headaches.
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dizziness.

If blood glucose is out of control for too long, you can risk developing Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, all of which are associated with health risks.

So, what exactly is blood glucose, and how does it function? In a healthy body, we should have about four grams (one teaspoon) of sugar circulating in our system at any given time. Consider that many sodas and popular foods in the US can contain upwards of 50 grams of sugar per serving, and we are setting ourselves up for a blood sugar roller coaster with massive spikes and crashes.

If we consume foods loaded with sugar without combining them with protein and fat, they are quickly released from the stomach, causing a spike in blood glucose and insulin, which is tasked with clearing excess sugar from the blood. Insulin converts blood glucose to glycogen to be stored in the muscles and liver, and when those are full, it is converted to fat.

Unfortunately, if blood glucose spikes, too much insulin can overcompensate, causing your blood sugar to drop rapidly, leading to a crash where you start to feel cranky, tired, lethargic and dizzy. You may also get headaches and insatiable food cravings, causing you to reach for more sugary foods, starting the process all over again. When your blood sugar drops due to the insulin surge, your body produces adrenaline to elevate your blood sugar.

If you are chronically stuck in this cycle, your body will constantly be producing adrenaline and cortisol, possibly leading to abdominal weight gain, decreased immunity and inflammation.

In Conclusion

Consuming foods low in simple carbohydrates and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein and fat is a great place to start getting yourself off this roller coaster. But it’s also helpful to try supplements if your blood glucose is out of control. As always, consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner before taking supplements to avoid negative interactions with medications or health conditions.

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