Artichoke Cynara scolymus, is an edible plant cultivated since the Roman times. From the 18th century and on it has been used in folk medicine to treat dyspepsia and urinary diseases. Modern studies started discovering other therapeutic properties of artichoke such as hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic activity, plus antioxidant properties.
The compounds responsible for those pharmaceutical properties are found in the leaves of the plant and include Cynarin and Chlorogenic acid. Extracts of artichoke leaves have been tested with favourable results for treating hypercholesterolaemia, normalizing blood glucose levels in obese people alongside with their protective effect on liver cells.
Aloe vera is a plant resembling to cactus. Its gel, located between its leaves, has been used for hundreds of years to soothe sunburns and other skin irritations and disorders like psoriasis, seborrhea dermatitis, and dandruff and even in wound healing.
In the European folk medicine aloe vera juice has been used to relieve heartburn, ulcers and stomach irritations.
Some of the commercial Aloe vera preparations have also been studied for their ability to help patients with diabetes to decrease blood glucose levels. Aloe consumption, in the short-term, has also been linked, with decreased blood lipids in some patients with hyperlipidaemia. (Samaneh A, J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015)
Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin alike substance with very strong antioxidant properties. It acts as an antioxidant itself by fighting cell-damaging free radicals in the body but also helps the body preserve and regenerate other important antioxidants like glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E and Coenzyme Q10.
Alpha-lipoic can protect the nerves from the oxidative damage caused by hyperglycemia in people with diabetes. Long-term treatment with alpha-lipoic acid may slow or in some cases reverse the progression of diabetic neuropathy.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin required for optimal hematopoietic neuro-cognitive and cardiovascular function.
Disorders of the stomach, pancreas and the last part of the small intestine can affect vitamin B12 absorption. Vegans and alcohol abusers are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency. The risk of B12 deficiency also increases with age. Biochemical and clinical vitamin B12 deficiency has been also demonstrated to be highly prevalent among patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia, neurologic dysfunction, depression, fatigue and problems in mental function. If the deficiency is not corrected, nerve cell damage can occur.
The chronic use of some drugs have been shown to possible cause B12 deficiency.
Patients with type 2 diabetes treated with widely used antidiabetic drug metformin, especially at higher dosages and longer durations of treatment, should be screened for vitamin B12 deficiency (Ko SH, J Korean Med Sci. 2014 Jul). Treatment with vitamin B12 (cobalamin and methylcobalamin), has also been shown to provide some symptomatic relief in patients with diabetic neuropathy.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It can either be ingested from food or produced by the body when our skin is directly exposed to sunlight. As we age, our bodies may produce this important vitamin with less efficiently. Winter season, bad weather conditions, use of sun blocks also compromise the body’s ability to produce optimal vitamin D amounts, making vitamin D supplementation a valuable option.
Vitamin D is essential for proper absorption of calcium and the use of phosphorus to form and maintain healthy bones and teeth. It is also very important for the immune system and for proper cell division.
According to some recent studies people with low levels of vitamin D appear to have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, even if they aren’t overweight or obese. Thus making sure that we maintain the normal level of vitamin D in our bodies is an essential step in the prevention of onset of diabetes, among other health disorders.
Biotin is a water-soluble a vitamin of the B family. It is essential for healthy hair, nails and skin. Some symptoms of biotin deficiency (although rare) include hair loss, dry skin, a scaly rash around the eyes or mouth, dry eyes, fatigue, and depression. It is also required for proper protein, carbohydrate, and fat metabolism from foods. Its key role in human metabolism makes it an important substance in the prevention of developing metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Its very good safety profile helped researchers use biotin as a supplemental treatment in diabetic patients, many times combined with chromium, even in very large doses achieving measurable reductions in blood glucose.
Milk thistle and its main polyfenolic active compound silymarin (a mix of silibin, isosilibin, silichristin and silidianin) is one of the most extensively studied herbs. Over 300 scientific studies and literature reference on its chemistry and possible applications exists.
In laboratory studies, silymarin has been found to stabilize cell membranes, thus preventing toxic chemicals from entering the cell and to stimulate synthesis and activity of enzymes responsible for detoxification and antioxidant activity. It has been used by herbalists for many years for its liver protective properties in diseases like acute and chronic liver disease, hepatitis C, alcohol-related liver problems. Apart from its use in liver disorders, milk thistle has recently gained attention due to its hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties. A substance from milk thistle (silibin) has been shown to possess PPARγ agonist properties. PPARγ is the molecular target of the well-known antidiabetic drugs thiazolidinediones that are used clinically as insulin sensitizers to lower blood glucose levels in diabetes type 2 patients. Indeed silimaryn when used in small clinical trials managed to reduce fasting blood glucose and mean daily glucose levels and in some cases cholesterol and triglycerides in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Glucomannan is a soluble, bulk-forming fiber derived from the root of the potato alike plant Amorphophallus konjac.
It has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese and Asian medicine for the treatment asthma, cough, burns, haematological and skin disorders.
Over the past three decades konjac glucomannan has been imported on a relatively small scale into the United States and Europe, both as a food additive and a dietary supplement.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that supplementing the diet with konjac glucomannan significantly lowers plasma cholesterol, improves carbohydrate metabolism, bowel movement and colonic ecology. Preliminary evidence suggests that glucomannan may aid in weight loss possibly by promoting satiety and weight loss.
Glucommanan should be taken with lots of water or other fluids. The intake should be avoided by people with difficulties in swallowing. For those who also follow a supplementary therapy with natural fibers the consumption of water is highly recommended.
Cinnamon is a spice that has been used by herbalists for hundreds of years mainly for its soothing effects in gastrointestinal system. Research suggests that cinnamon helps control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes by lowering levels of fasting plasma glucose. Lipid lowering effects, reduction of blood pressure, antioxidant activity and antibacterial action are some more positive health outcomes of cinnamon.
Magnesium is one of the body’s most important minerals. It is essential for hundreds of chemical reactions that occur in the body on a daily basis and enzymatic processes.
- It reduces the risk of developing diabetes: Diets with higher amounts of magnesium are associated with a significantly lower risk of diabetes, possibly because of the important role of magnesium in glucose metabolism. Hypomagnesemia might worsen insulin resistance.
- It reduces risk of developing metabolic syndrome: Higher magnesium intake either from diet or supplements is linked with a 27% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome in healthy women and almost a 30% lower risk in healthy young adults.
Since the ancient times, green tea (from the leaves of Camellia sinensis) has been considered by the Chinese and other Asians, as a healthy beverage with medicinal properties.
Those medicinal qualities are attributed to special compounds in green tea such as polyphenols commonly known as catechins with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) being the most abundant.
Some of the health benefits of consuming green tea, includes protective effect against some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease, aid on fat loss, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative properties to name but a few.
The effects of, rich in catechins, tea consumption on obesity and prevention of T1 diabetes have received increasing attention. Tea catechins, especially EGCG, appear to have antiobesity and antidiabetic effects.
There is a considerable body of literature supporting insulin-mimetic actions of EGCG.
Also green tea intake results in reductions to some degree in systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.
If you think that you belong in a high risk group for developing diabetes (either because one of your parents is diabetic or because of your daily lifestyle routine (sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits), along with trying to correct your diet and introducing exercise into your daily routine, you can consider using the special multi-formulas of dietary supplements, which are composed of mixtures of natural substances that can act as a deterrent to the onset of Type II diabetes, hinder further development of the disease in its early stages or even to act in conjunction with your prescription medication.
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that naturally reside in the intestines. Supplementation with probiotics is helpful for treating problems in the stomach and intestines. Many modern medicine like antibiotics can harm the beneficial bacteria in human intestines along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems, diarrhea, gas, and cramping. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria and avoid such problems.
Probiotics may also help strengthen the immune system, fight urinary tract infections, offer some protection against colon cancer, alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, reduce cholesterol and maintain insulin sensitivity.
Stevia is a very well-known plant that even though its leaves give out a distinctly sweet taste, they contain almost no calories, making stevia an extremely important natural sugar replacement especially beneficial to patients suffering from obesity and diabetes, as it will not elevate their blood-glucose levels.
Furthermore scientific research suggests that stevia may have some additional health benefits. Studies indicate that stevia may be effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients in the long term, although data from shorter studies did not support these findings.
A pair of small studies also report positive results with respect to glucose management. There was a significant reduction, an average of 18%, in postprandial glucose levels in type 2 diabetic patients given test meals supplemented with stevioside while the same positive effect was noted in patients supplemented with Stevia, compared to those given aspartame (a synthetic sweetener) or table sugar.
Chromium is a trace mineral that plays an important role in helping insulin regulate blood glucose. Chromium tends to be lost from foods by processing and refining. Tissue chromium levels of subjects with diabetes tend to be lower than those of normal control subjects. Α correlation exists between low circulating levels of chromium and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Chromium picolinate supplementation has also been shown to attenuate body weight gain in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Supplementation of chromium picolinate in combination with biotin in poorly controlled, by regular medication, diabetic patients improved glucose management and several lipid measurements.
Psyllium seeds are rich in soluble fiber, and their husks have long been used to ease constipation and digestive system upset.
Water soluble fibres, such as psyllium, moderate postprandial glucose and insulin concentrations in type 2 diabetic patients, if taken with meals and favour the reduction of body weight (satisfy the feeling of fullness) and possibly hypertension. Therefore, the favourable effect of various fibres and particularly of psyllium, on body weight reduction and satiety, on cholesterol and triglycerides levels, on fasting glycaemia and on blood pressure suggests a potential role of these fibres in the treatment of metabolic syndrome.
Psyllium should be consumed with lots of water or fluids. Avoid use if you ever had swallowing difficulties. For those who also follow a therapy high in natural fibers they intake of lots of fluids is recommended.
Common beans (Phaseolus vulagris) are nutritionally important food crop in almost all parts of the world, providing nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They also contain rich variety of polyphenolic compounds with prospective health benefits.
Epidemiological studies have shown associations with increased legume consumption and decreased rates or prevalence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Beans and other dry grains typically reduce postprandial glucose elevations in short-term studies in healthy and diabetic individuals compared with most other starch containing foods. The lower glycaemic response when eating beans has been attributed to their low glycemic index or delayed digestion of the carbohydrate within and, therefore, delayed absorption of glucose.
The delay of carbohydrate absorption has been associated with the high alpha-amylase inhibitor (a digestive enzyme) content of beans. Alpha-amylase helps break down dietary starches into glucose so that they can be absorbed by the digestive system. With less alpha amylase activity, there may be less excess glucose available. It is possible that those natural alpha amylase inhibitors act in a similar mechanism of action like the well-known antidiabetic drug Acarbose (an alpha glucosidase inhibitor).
Dietary supplement companies, taking advantage of the above properties of white kidney bean, have developed proprietary natural extracts like Phase 2 that has been shown to slow the absorption of carbohydrates after meals enable the balance of blood sugar. Some of the volunteers who participated in the studies have also noticed weight loss.