Recommendations for Healthy Blood Sugar

by Dr. David Williams
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Here are a few promising suggestions I've compiled over the years from around the world that help balance blood sugar levels and support proper insulin function of the pancreas.

Nutrients

Cinnamon. Cinnamon, an extract from the bark of a small Southeast Asian evergreen tree, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Preliminary research has shown that taking at least one gram of cinnamon a day may help you maintain normal serum glucose (blood sugar) levels. Cellular research indicates that cinnamon contains a polyphenol (plant antioxidant ) called methylhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP), which may help activate the insulin receptors on your cells—so glucose can go in. More work needs to be done to confirm just how these mechanisms work—but what's important is that it seems to work. I recommend one full gram, the research dose.

Chromium. Chromium is essential for normal blood sugar levels. It's required for normal fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Chromium works by helping to increase the number of binding sites on your cells for insulin to enter. Chromium also plays a role in the glucose tolerance factor complex—which means it enhances insulin sensitivity. I recommend a dose of 200 mcg daily.

Vanadyl sulfate. Researchers at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, have shown that oral administration of vanadyl sulfate helps support healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and proper blood glucose levels. Recommended dosage: 30 to 45 mg daily with meals.

Gymnema Sylvestre. The herb Gymnema Sylvestre has been safely used for hundreds of years in India by Ayurvedic practitioners. It helps balance blood sugar levels and support the function of insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. I recommend a dose of 300 mg daily taken 15 minutes before a meal.

Ginseng. Research indicates that taking ginseng (particularly 200 mg) can help elevate mood, improve psychophysical performance, and reduce fasting blood sugar levels. My recommended daily maintenance dosage is 25 mg of Siberian ginseng extract, 20 mg of Panax ginseng extract, and 20 mg of Panax ginseng root.

Niacinamide. A few years ago, researchers found that nicotinamide (the amide, more water-soluble form of niacin [vitamin B3]) was able to restore the beta cells of the pancreas, or at least slow down their destruction. (Nicotinamide in this country is more commonly referred to as niacinamide.)

Niacinamide is readily available and generally considered very safe. It differs from niacin in that it doesn't cause flushing or dilation of blood vessels.

Adult patients were given niacinamide dosages of approximately 25 mg a day for every two pounds of body weight. (For example, a 150 pound adult was given around 1,875 mg a day.)

At high dosages, much higher than those referred to here, it may cause a degree of sedation, a feeling of depression and in very large dosages, liver toxicity.

Exercise

Sunlight and exercise. Low levels of vitamin D in the body have been linked to impaired glucose tolerance. Because researchers have found that sunlight helps convert a compound called squalene, which is naturally present in your skin, into vitamin D3, I recommend you make a point to either walk, garden, or just sit in full sunlight for 20 or 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.

You don't need to stay in direct sun or lie on the beach for hours, but you do need to be outside, since exposure to sunlight through windows will not activate the formation of vitamin D. Also, make sure you're getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D a day. This is especially important if you spend most of your time indoors or have a history of low sunlight exposure.

Diet

Fig leaf tea. Researchers here have shown that fig leaf (ficus carica) tea can help maintain proper insulin levels.

It can easily be made using 2 teaspoons of dried cut leaves. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the leaves, cover, and let the brew sit for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking. Drink 1 cup each morning at breakfast. Dried fig leaves can usually be purchased at your local health food store.

Guava fruit. Guava juice has been shown to lower blood sugar levels significantly. As little as 3 ounces of juice lowered the average fasting blood sugar from 214 to 165 mL/dL, and the effect lasted for up to 3 hours.

Be aware that your insulin intake may have to be monitored more carefully, and possibly even reduced, with the intake of guava fruit or juice.

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