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The following nutrients/foods are known to influence the glucose/insulin system and can help in reducing the incidence and severity of diabetes. You can consider supplementing your diet with some of these after consulting your doctor.
Dietary Fiber: There are two types of dietary fibers i.e., water insoluble and water-soluble. Insoluble fiber helps move waste through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber in meal increases the viscosity of the meal bolus and may delay absorption and, thus, reduce glycemic peak. Most foods have a mixture of water soluble and insoluble fibers. Most dietitians recommend eating between 20 to 30 gm fibers daily. Some good sources of insoluble fiber are: wheat bran and whole grain, fruits and vegetables; and of soluble fiber: oats, barley, dry beans, fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants: Growing scientific evidence suggests that oxidative stress has a role in diabetes and micro vascular complications associated with diabetes. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E and beta-carotene. According to some studies, adding 200-600 mg of Vitamin C and 100 I. U. of Vitamin E to a healthy diet is a reasonable strategy for individuals with type II diabetes
Minerals: Several minerals enhance insulin action and others promise reducing the adverse consequences of high blood sugar.
·         Chromium: Insulin sensitivity increases in persons deficient in chromium. Significant improvement in the glucose/insulin system is obtained in persons receiving chromium picolinate 500 micrograms twice a day for two months. Since improving the action of insulin also helps to use fat as fuel, chromium picolinate can help to reduce obesity too. Chromium has a large safety range and no sign of toxicity has been observed in studies at levels of up to one mg per day. With the exception of some herbs, condiments, tea and coffee, most foods contain chromium below 100 mcg per kg. Green onion stalks contain 390 mcg/kg of chromium. Fresh and dry ginger, sesame seeds and dry peas like cowpea, lentil and red kidney bean are good sources of micro-nutrients like chromium, zinc, manganese and copper. A daily dietary intake of 50-200 mcg of chromium is safe and adequate as established by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
·         Magnesium: According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, magnesium not only lowers blood pressure, but can also help in the insulin-mediated uptake of glucose into the cells. A study reported in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolis found that feeding 2,000 mg of vitamin C and 600 mg of magnesium per day improved control of blood sugar in type II diabetics.
·         Manganese and zinc: Manganese helps body to metabolize glucose. Diabetics often have a manganese deficiency. An article in Diabetes Care concludes that low zinc content in drinking water is associated with development of childhood onset of diabetes. Zinc may improve a diabetic’s ability to utilize insulin.
Other vitamins:
Inositol, a vitamin B complex component, has been shown to help protect diabetics from peripheral nerve disease (neuropathy) by relieving numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. However, since inositol might alter blood glucose level, make sure to check with your doctor before starting supplements.
Biotin may improve glucose metabolism.
Vitamin B6 may help decrease the severity of diabetic neuropathy and reduce insulin demands in type II diabetics.
Vitamin B12 may help treat diabetic neuropathy. Injections of vitamin B12 may prove more beneficial than oral doses.
Foods and Herbs
·         Cinnamon:  Experimental results have demonstrated that intake of 1to3 gm of cinnamon per day reduced serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type II diabetes and suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type II diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Cinnamon powder can be added to prepared curries as it also imparts a nice flavour. In Central America, cinnamon sticks are used to prepare a tea.
·         Bitter gourd/karela (Memordica charantia): Considerable amount of work has been carried out on bitter gourd and a majority of studies have documented the beneficial effects of the vegetable. Drinking of the aqueous homogenized suspension of the fruit pulp led to significant reduction of both fasting and post-prandial serum glucose levels in 86% cases. Also karela fruit juice is bitter but has been found to significantly improve the glucose tolerance of 73% of patients. Bitter gourd is prepared in various ways for consumption as a vegetable. It is common practice in some communities to drink tea prepared from the leaves of wild bitter gourd.
·         Jamun (Eugenia jambolana). The pulp of this fruit reduces blood glucose level in 30 minutes while the seed powder required 24 hours.
·         Billberries contain anthocyanin flavonoids, which help diabetic retinopathy and peripheral circulation by improving capillary wall resistance to blood leakage.
·         Flax seed. Thirty grams of ground flaxseed per day improved the working of kidneys in diabetic patients as measured by blood creatininelevel. The oil in flax seeds contains gamma-linolenic acid that staves off diabetic complications.
·         Fenugreek (methi) seed powder in diet reduces blood and urine sugar both in types I and type II diabetics. It also lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides. The seeds can be soaked overnight in water or buttermilk and eaten 15 minutes before meal. Fenugreek seed powder can be incorporated in preparations such as breads, rice, dry beans and vegetables. Twenty-five g of seed has been recommended per day, in two equal doses.