In the United States, an estimated 30 million adults live with diabetes. This chronic illness can take a toll on individuals and families, with frequent doctor’s visits, medication costs, and dietary restrictions. Still, there are a number of natural remedies that can assist people with diabetes with the daily management of their condition. Nutritional supplements and mind-body practices hold promise for helping individuals with diabetes stay on track and even reduce symptom severity.
This article details five natural, research-based remedies for individuals with diabetes. Below you’ll find information on the benefits of two dietary components: cinnamon and fiber, as well as the mind-body practices of Qi Gong, acupuncture, and yoga. Continue reading to learn about the simple steps you can take toward the prevention and management of diabetes.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
Nutritional supplements are a common approach to the natural prevention and management of a number of conditions, and diabetes is no exception. While there are a variety of dietary recommendations for diabetes, the following two have significant research backing.
Cinnamon is a household spice that has demonstrated efficacy for a number of healthconditions. Cinnamon boasts benefits across the metabolic spectrum, including increased insulin sensitivity, decreased inflammation, and improved glucose levels and body weight. The metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (among other conditions); addressing these factors is important for preventing and managing diabetes.
Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet; it contributes to bowel health, lowers cholesterol, and aids in weight management. Dietary fiber is especially important for individuals with diabetes, given the role of overweight and obesity in type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, fiber can help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and may also play a preventive role for those at risk of developing the disease.
Mind and Body Practices
The term “mind-body medicine” encompasses a wide variety of techniques that address the mind and body as a holistic system of dynamic interactions. These approaches are based on the notion that the brain, the body, and behavior interact with one another to inform mental and physical health outcomes. Three promising mind-body approaches for diabetes management are qi gong, acupuncture, and yoga.
Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi Gong consists of movements and exercises designed to engage the body and relax the mind. In a randomized controlled study, a 12-week Qi Gong intervention for patients with Type 2 diabetes produced significant decreases in the fasting glucose levels of participants. Moreover, patients made progress in improving both HbA1C and insulin resistance. While Qi Gong is an effective complementary approach for diabetes management, the practice has also demonstrated effectiveness in relieving stress, improving immune system functioning, and alleviating chronic pain syndromes.
Acupuncture, like Qi Gong, is a practice derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine. This technique involves manipulation by a professional acupuncturist, who places tiny needles at different points on the body to treat a wide range of conditions. Clinical research on acupuncture suggests an anti-obesity effect, which is beneficial for improving overall health and metabolic functioning. For individuals with diabetes, acupuncture may also alleviate pain, reduce sugar levels, and even improve pancreatic functioning.
Yoga is one of the most common and well-known mind-body practices. Originating in India, yoga utilizes physical postures, breathing, and meditation with the goal of balancing the body and the mind. Yoga has been shown to be beneficial for the management of diabetes, mainly through its anti-stress and relaxation components. These factors can reduce blood glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and minimize the risk of complications related to type 2 diabetes.
Whether you decide to try these nutritional modifications or participate in a mind-body practice, we’d love to hear about your experience. We encourage you to share your suggestions and experience with managing diabetes in our forum. If you’d like to learn more about any of the methods discussed in this post, refer to the additional resources guide below for further reading.
- New CDC Report: More than 100 Million Americans have Diabetes or Prediabetes
- Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fiber Consumption and Prevention of Diabetes
- Mind Body Medicine, Evidence-Based Medicine, Clinical Psychophysiology, and Integrative Medicine
- A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi
- Acupuncture for Diabetes
Article contributed by Olivia Weidner