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Ancient Ayurvedic secrets help tame blood sugar

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There’s not much that can be done to prevent type 1 diabetes; however, type 2 diabetes is a different story…

With type 2 diabetes, cells gradually lose their ability to respond to insulin, causing toxic levels of glucose to accumulate in the blood stream. This gradual loss could be caused by age, obesity or other issues such as over-consumption of high-sugar foods over time. As blood sugar accumulates, pancreatic cells have to work harder to produce more insulin.

The condition gradually escalates: Cells become more insulin-resistant; glucose accumulates in the blood stream, and the pancreas produces more insulin to compensate. Eventually, pancreatic beta cells burn out and the condition can become more like type 1 diabetes, in which no insulin is produced at all.

But before you become one more person relying on shots and medications, you can take steps to stop the madness.

Ancient science of longevity

Ayurveda refers to the traditional health and healing system of India. In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda consists of the words āyus, meaning “longevity,” and veda, meaning “science” – together meaning the “science of life.”

The philosophy is guided by the five great elements: air, space, fire, water, and earth. Achieving balance and order in connection with these elements is considered crucial to health and wellness on all levels of being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Ayurveda works by balancing the three basic energies, called doshas, which we all possess in unique proportions. Each dosha contains two of the five elements. The three doshas are: vata (air space), pitta (fire water), and kapha (water earth). Each person usually reflects one prominent dosha, and when this dosha becomes imbalanced, the body experiences symptoms and illness related to the dosha’s properties.

Ayurveda uses traditional herbal formulas and personalized diet recommendations, among other modalities, to balance the doshas and reestablish health and wellness. Currently, more than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant extracts are used in Ayurveda.

As an integrative medical doctor and healer, I often integrate Ayurvedic modalities and principles into my practice. One specific formula that I am especially fond of includes several highly revered Ayurvedic herbs which have been shown in scientific studies to be beneficial in helping promote healthy metabolic function. The Ayurvedic herbs in this formula have a reputation for helping with blood sugar imbalances and other critical health issues related to diabetes and metabolic health: gymnema leaf, cassia bark, fenugreek seed, holy basil leaf, jambolan seed and other ingredients.

Destroyers of sugar

Studies of the effects of gymnema leaf have demonstrated its ability to help support healthy insulin levels. In Hinduism, gymnema is called gurmar, which means “destroyer of sugar,” and research shows that this plant contains substances which help decrease the absorption of sugar in the intestine. Gymnema may also help increase the amount of insulin in the body and may enhance pancreatic cell growth, further benefiting insulin production in the body, as insulin is made in the pancreas.

Chromium, a mineral, is also helpful, as it has been shown to promote insulin sensitivity and have positive effects on carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. In Ayurveda, the practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is known as “Rasa Shastra.”

Another powerful spice to promote metabolic health is Cassia cinnamon, or Chinese cinnamon. Cinnamon has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic health systems for thousands of years, and research indicates that cinnamon may help reduce fasting blood sugar levels, with polyphenols that help maintain insulin sensitivity.

Several human intervention trials have also shown that fenugreek seed positively affects metabolic health, while jambolan seed contains fatty oils and tannins that may help lower blood sugar.

Holy basil, called Tulsi in India, is also widely used for a broad range of health conditions, including blood sugar imbalances, and is an essential herb in Ayurveda.

Detox your metabolism

Regular, gentle detoxification is important for every area of health, particularly for optimal metabolism. The foundations of a successful detox program are whole, nutrient dense foods that provide antioxidants, fight inflammation and support the metabolic, digestive and immune systems.

Miraculous mushrooms, both medicinal and culinary (many fall under both categories), are excellent detox allies. Essentially, they act like sponges and absorb toxins from stagnant, inflamed or injured areas in the body. They’re rich in antioxidants, unique nutrients and therapeutic compounds that help support glucose metabolism, insulin function, and healthy fat absorption, among numerous other benefits including immune modulation. Look for maitake, reishi, tremella, oyster and cordyceps mushrooms for powerful metabolic, detox and overall health support.

For people with concerns about diabetes, metabolic syndrome or weight, it’s critical to emphasize low-sugar foods that are low on the “glycemic index.” This index measures the amount of time specific foods take to break down into glucose. The faster they’re metabolized, the quicker blood sugar ticks up – something you want to avoid. Find foods that are low on the glycemic index scale and won’t cause blood sugar to spike and crash. Good choices include high-fiber vegetables, whole grains and legumes and many nuts. Avoid sugary cereals, high-sugar fruits, white enriched pastas or bread and white potatoes, to name a few.

A successful strategy could encompass these steps and more…

Ayurvedic formulas that promote metabolic health contain unique blends of traditional botanical and mineral ingredients that have been shown to support healthy blood glucose levels, promote reduction of fat absorption, support healthy insulin levels, and help combat sugar cravings. Combining healthy supplementation with a mindful approach to eating and regular exercise is an essential strategy for promoting metabolic health and a more energetic lifestyle.

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