Diabetes is an insidious disease that can develop due to unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits. Because of its quiet nature, diabetes can go undetected for a long time. Once the disease is discovered, recovering health can be a challenging journey.
A comprehensive Ayurvedic approach is the ideal way to optimize the healing mechanisms of the body, while blocking the pathological patterns.
Dietary and Lifestyle approaches to balancing blood sugar
It is essential to change one’s relationship with food.
Considering the adverse effect of excessive triglycerides and obesity on diabetic patients, healthy weight management is considered the primary intervention in medicine. Having moderate amount of food that meets caloric needs without raising blood sugar too excessively is ideal for the diabetic patient.
Following are some recommendations that can be easily adopted:
Eating equal amount of protein-to-carbohydrate ratio can help to reduce glucose load as protein breaks down slower than carbs
- For example, with one ounce of protein (light meat or beans), combine one ounce of vegetables (a healthy source of carbs.)
- Another way to reduce carbs is to replace white rice with quinoa or buckwheat.
Eat small and regular meals
- Having 4-5 small meals spread throughout the day can be helpful to minimize glucose load with each meal.
- Balance each of the main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner with equal amount of protein-to-carb.
- Also, reduce the overall portion size of each meal.
- Add in 2 snack meals between breakfast—lunch—dinner. One snack may be a 1-2 servings of fruits. The second snack can be protein-rich, like 1-2 handfuls of raw tree nuts, 1-2 tablespoons of hummus or 1oz meat or 1 tablespoon cheese.
Alternate between a variety of foods
- Tree nuts: almond, cashews, walnuts, pistachio, pecans, Brazil nuts, etc.
- Seeds: flax seeds, sunflowers seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Eat seasonal vegetables and fruits.
- Exercise is one of the best ways of revving up body’s capacity to deal with excessive sugar.
- Weight bearing exercise help to increase the mass of insulin receptor in muscles. Sugar that is driven into muscle tissue is stored as glycogen and released overtime, helping control sugar crash. Weight bearing exercise also increases general exercising capacity.
- Yoga has been shown to improve outcome in patients with diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular disease. In addition to muscles, yoga also causes contraction and relaxation of internal organs, thus improving circulation in and activity of these organs.
- Walking has been shown to reduce risk complications and death related to diabetes. Research shows, up to 57% reduction risk of cardiovascular disease and 46% reduction in death related to cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients.
- Deep breathing is a thermo-genic activity, meaning it increases metabolism. This is indicated by an enhanced digestive fire on every tissue level. In order to further enhance this effect to optimize metabolism, Ayurveda recommends incorporating fire breath into daily practice.
Herbal Support for Diabetes
Gurmar, Gymnema sylvestre:
This plant has been proven to have healing effects on the pancreas. It helps to regenerate β-cells in the pancreas, which secrete insulin into the body. Increased insulin contributes to blood sugar control from using Gurmar. Among insulin dependent patients, Gymnema has been shown to reduce insulin requirement while reducing overall blood sugar, compared to insulin-dependent controls.
Gymnema has been the subject of considerable research since the 1930s, which revealed its effectiveness in treating both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes…Another anti-diabetic effect of Gymnema is that it negates the taste of sugar, which has the effect of suppressing and neutralizing the craving for sweets.
Neem, Azadiratcha indica:
Anti-diabetic effects of this versatile herb have proven in animal and human studies alike. Neem is a bitter herb that has the capacity to stimulate the pancreas, improving its digestive and insulin-producing activity. Neem has proven effective in individual with insulin-dependent diabetes to reduce dosage by 30-50%. This herb is also quite safe and effect when combined with oral hypoglycemic drugs. Therefore, it is useful to provide more effective glucose control without need to add on drugs.
Holy basil, Ocimum sanctum: This plant is central to many ceremonial and religious activities in Indian culture. In additional to the Spiritual significance, the value of holy basil comes from its versatile medicinal activities. For the diabetic patient, holy basil has been shown to contribute toward blood glucose control. It also has an anti-oxidant effect that protects all organs of the body from gluco-toxic oxidative damage. Holy basil helps to replenish anti-oxidant enzyme in the body, while putting a cap on inflammation. In this way, holy basil helps in preventing complications related to diabetes.
Bitter melon, Mormordica charantia
Research has shown this herb to be effective for promoting insulin release, as well as insulin sensitivity. Thus, it is helpful in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. Bitter melon carries insulin-like peptides that mimic the activity of physiological insulin to promote additional blood sugar control.
An unusual-looking fruit, bitter melon resembles a cucumber covered with hard bumps. Its firm fruit covers bright red seeds, which are inedible. When steeped in salt water, the fruit loses its bitter taste. The fruit also may be pickled and used as a relish. Bitter melon is highly recommended for treating diabetes, both as part of the general diet and in the form of an extract or as an herbal tea made from the leaf.
As it is true with all chronic diseases, the Ayurvedic approach provides the greatest chance of restoring normal function to the digestive system. Effective healing requires a great deal of work from the patients. The rewards of health, vitality, and longevity are the fruit of such hard work.
This is strictly for educational use only.
Not to be considered medical advice