Even though that little bowl of candy by the door is awaiting trick or treaters, I would swear I hear it calling my name all day long! December is a difficult time for all of us that are trying to avoid sweet treats. It can be especially hard for my patients trying to avoid the diagnosis of diabetes by controlling their diet, cutting carbs and sweets in order to keep their blood sugar low. While the candy dish might be off limits, some of my patients do not know that dietary supplements can impact their blood sugar, and perhaps in a beneficial way.
Approximately 1 in 3 Americans are currently living with prediabetes, meaning that their blood sugar is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetic. The good news for these patients is that with lifestyle changesthe diagnosis of diabetes can be delayed or even prevented.1Lifestyle changes that promote a healthy blood sugar include eating healthy foods like vegetablesand whole grains, increasing physical activityto include most days of the week, and losing any excess weight.2 In addition to these changes, some prediabetic patients might also use dietary supplements to meet their health goals.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes several supplements are currently being studied for their impact of blood sugar levels and the complications of diabetes, like neuropathy.3 Some supplements have shown promise in supporting the way the body processes glucose. In addition to glucose support, these supplements might help reduce sugar cravings and maintain a healthy weight, both of which are essential in preventing disease progression for prediabetics.
- Alpha-lipoic acid– studies indicate alpha-lipoic acid may be helpful in improving insulin sensitivity and reducing symptoms of diabetic neuropathy4,7
- Chromium– studies indicate that chromium may be helpful in improving blood sugar control by helping the body process glucose5,7
- Gymnema sylvestre– studies indicate that gymnema sylvestre may be helpful in improving blood sugar control and reducing sweet cravings6,7
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, some patients do develop diabetesand require medication to manage their blood sugar and other health effects of the disease. Starting a medication regimen to regulate blood sugar does not mean they should abandon the lifestyle changes they have already implemented. Diet and exercise are still beneficial in patients with diabetes, and they might even be able to continue their supplements. A healthcare provider can evaluate a medication and supplement regimen and make sure there are not drug-nutrient interactions that could result in side effects, in this case dangerously low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.3,7In addition to your healthcare provider, Persona’s online assessment cross references their supplements with more than 2000 prescription medications, including medications commonly used to manage diabetes, and evaluates these combinations for drug-nutrient interactions.
Medications and supplements can work in harmony to help meet your health and wellness goals so long as drug-nutrient interactions are identified and managed appropriately. Visit personanutrition.comand take the assessmentto find out which supplements may be right for you.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes: Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.htmlAccessed 10/25/2019
- The Mayo Clinic. Prediabetes: diagnosis and treatment. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278Accessed 10/25/2019
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Diabetes and Dietary Supplements. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/diabetes/supplementsAccessed 10/25/2019
- Singh U, Jialal I: Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation and diabetes. Nutrition Reviews.2008;66:646–657
- Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2014;39(3):292-306.
- Baskaran K, Kizar Ahamath B, Radha Shanmugasundaram K, Shanmugasundaram ER. Antidiabetic effect of leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol 1990;30:295-300.
- Birdee GS, Yeh G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Diabetes: A Clinical Review. Clinical Diabetes2010 Oct;28(4): 147-155.