If you're looking for a natural way to help control your blood sugar levels, think spicy. A new study from Chinese researchers found that daily supplementation with compounds found in the spice turmeric can improve blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes.
Turmeric has several important components
Curcumin, a major component of turmeric, is usually the ingredient people most associated with providing health benefits. In fact, curcumin has been the subject of scores of studies suggesting it can be helpful in fatty liver disease, Alzheimer's disease, tendinitis, and Rift Valley Fever virus, among other conditions.
In this newest study, researchers from Harbin Medical University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention evaluated the ability of curcuminoids to reduce levels of free fatty acids (FFAs) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Curcuminoids is the general term for curcumin and its extracts, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
Free fatty acids have an important role in the development of insulin resistance. Therefore, if individuals can lower their FFA levels, they hopefully will also reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes or better manage the disease should they already have it.
The 100 patients in the study were given either 300 mg per day of curcuminoids or placebo for three months. At the end of three months, the patients in the curcuminoid group, when compared with those in the placebo group, experienced a significant decline in
- Blood glucose levels
- Hemoglobin A1c
- Insulin resistance
- Free fatty acids
The authors of the study noted that "this is the first study to show that curcuminoids may have an anti-diabetic effect by decreasing serum fatty acid possibly through the promotion of fatty acid oxidation and utilization."
Other natural ways to treat diabetes
This new study is not the first time turmeric and curcumin have been noted to benefit people with diabetes. In fact, a recent study published in Diabetes Care reported that curcumin may help prevent the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
The individuals with prediabetes took either placebo or 250 mg of curcuminoids for nine months. At the end of the trial, 16.4% of 116 patients in the placebo group had developed type 2 diabetes compared with none of the 119 patients in the curcumin group.
Cinnamon has demonstrated an ability to reduce fasting blood glucose levels. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, individuals with type 2 diabetes who took either 120 mg or 360 mg of cinnamon daily for three months experienced significantly lower glucose levels than did patients in the placebo group.
Another natural approach to managing type 2 diabetes may come in the form of beneficial bacteria. A recent study in Frontiers of Endocrinology suggested probiotics may be helpful in controlling obesity in this population.
The authors of the latest study from China note that the amount of curcuminoids necessary to provide the benefits seen in their research is more than people can include in their diet. Therefore they "suggest that it is better to take curcuminoids as a supplement" if you have type 2 diabetes and want to improve blood sugar levels.