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Tackling the Epidemic - Addressing the True Root Causes of Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

Tackling the Epidemic - Addressing the True Root Causes of Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes have become intertwined public health crises, afflicting millions globally and imposing immense burdens on individuals and healthcare systems.

Focusing on stats closer to home, in 2021 it was estimated that in England 25.9% of the adult population were obese, with a further 37.9% being overweight but not obese (1).

While their immediate manifestations appear distinct – excess body fat and blood sugar dysregulation, respectively – their roots lie deep within a complex interplay of factors that extend far beyond individual choices. Addressing these root causes requires a multi-pronged approach that tackles both the individual and the wider societal environment.

Body Mass Index - Not a Perfect Measure of Obesity

Obesity, characterised in the UK typically by a body mass index (BMI) exceeding 30, is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. BMI isn't a perfect measure of obesity, however. It has limitations that can potentially misclassify individuals:

Limitations of BMI:

  • Doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat: A muscular person with high BMI might be falsely categorised as obese.
  • Doesn't consider body composition: Fat distribution also plays a role. Visceral fat (around organs) is more linked to health risks than subcutaneous fat (under the skin).
  • Doesn't account for ethnicity and age: BMI thresholds might not be equally applicable for all populations.

Beyond BMI, here are some ways to assess obesity more accurately:

  1. Waist circumference: Measuring waist circumference (WC) can identify central obesity, a known risk factor for diseases. Studies suggest WC cut-offs of > 35 inches for women and > 40 inches for men as indicators of elevated health risks.
  2. Body fat percentage: Measuring body fat percentage through methods like bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) provides a more precise picture of fat mass.
  3. Body composition analysis: Advanced techniques like bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) or air displacement plethysmography (ADP) analyse lean muscle mass, fat mass, and water content for a comprehensive assessment.
  4. Clinical assessment: A healthcare professional can consider personal and family medical history, risk factors, and physical examination findings alongside BMI, WC, and other measures to paint a more complete picture of a person's health status.

Obesity and Chronic Inflammation: Intimately Connected

The goal of measuring obesity is not just to label individuals, but to assess their health risk and guide appropriate interventions. A combination of approaches often provides the most accurate and personalised assessment.keyboard chronic inflammation

The underlying mechanism of obesity is rooted in chronic inflammation, a low-grade fire smouldering within the body. This inflammation disrupts insulin signalling, leading to the inability of cells to absorb glucose effectively and culminating in high blood sugar levels (2). This inflammatory state is fueled by multiple factors, including:

  • Dietary imbalances: Excessive consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, and trans fats triggers a pro-inflammatory response in the body (3).
  • Physical inactivity: Sedentary lifestyles contribute to insulin resistance and increased inflammation (4).
  • Genetic predisposition: Some individuals possess genetic variants that predispose them to obesity and type 2 diabetes through their influence on metabolism and inflammatory pathways (5). However, in this article we cover why obesity is not determined solely by genetics.
  • Socioeconomic disparities: Factors like poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to healthcare contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and exacerbate existing health risks, disproportionately affecting marginalised communities (6).

Beyond Individual Choices

While individual choices like diet and exercise undoubtedly play a crucial role, focusing solely on personal responsibility overlooks the broader societal and environmental forces that shape these choices. Consider the following:

  • Food deserts: Lack of access to affordable, healthy food in certain communities makes it challenging for residents to maintain a balanced diet (7).
  • Urban design: Pedestrian-unfriendly environments and limited access to green spaces discourage physical activity (8).
  • Marketing tactics: The aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods, particularly targeting vulnerable populations, undermines efforts to promote healthy choices (9).
  • Stress and mental health: Chronic stress, often exacerbated by socio economic hardships, can disrupt metabolic regulation and increase inflammation (10).

Breaking the Cycle: A Multi-pronged Approach

Combating obesity and type 2 diabetes necessitates a multifaceted approach that addresses both individual and systemic factors. Here are some key strategies:

  • Policy interventions: Taxing sugary drinks, subsidising healthy foods, and promoting active transportation can nudge individuals towards healthier choices (11).
  • Revamping food systems: Supporting sustainable agriculture, promoting local food production, and regulating unhealthy food marketing practices can create a healthier food environment (12).
  • Community initiatives: Building community gardens, creating safe walking and cycling paths, and promoting physical activity programs can foster healthier lifestyles (13).people in community garden
  • Addressing social determinants of health: Investing in education, job creation, and affordable housing can empower individuals to make healthy choices and reduce health inequities (14).
  • Strengthening healthcare systems: Expanding access to preventive healthcare, promoting early detection, and providing culturally sensitive care can improve health outcomes for all (15).

The Role of Nutrition: A Focus on Inflammation

Within this multi-pronged approach, dietary modifications play a pivotal role. Reducing intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and trans fats while increasing consumption of whole foods such as free range meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly decrease inflammation, while naturally limiting unhealthy fats and sugars.

This shift not only reduces inflammation but also improves insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to process glucose more effectively. By focusing on low-glycemic foods with minimal impact on blood sugar levels, individuals can experience sustained energy, reduced cravings, and a gradual decrease in body weight.

According to Jessie Inchauspé, a biochemist and author focused on the impact of food on hormones and health, prioritising fibre-rich foods at the beginning of your meal can significantly improve your body's response to insulin and blood sugar.

Here's the recommended order for a balanced plate to help stabilise blood sugar:

  1. Start with the greens: Think of this as priming your digestive system. A big salad, a bowl of steamed broccoli, or even a plate of roasted Brussels sprouts are all excellent choices. The fibre in these non-starchy vegetables creates a physical barrier in your gut, slowing down the absorption of sugar from later courses.selection of green vegetables
  2. Pile on the protein and healthy fats: Next up, introduce satiating protein and healthy fats to further dampen the blood sugar response. Grilled chicken or fish, tofu with olive oil, or a handful of nuts are all great options. These macronutrients take longer to digest, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and preventing you from reaching for sugary snacks later.
  3. Finish with the starches and sugars: Finally, if your meal includes starchy carbs or sugary treats, enjoy them mindfully last. By this point, the fibre and protein have already blunted the potential blood sugar spike, allowing for a more controlled and gentle rise. Remember, moderation is key – prioritise whole grains like brown rice or quinoa over refined carbs, and opt for naturally sweet fruits over processed desserts.

Inchauspé emphasises that this ordering isn't a rigid rule, but rather a helpful strategy to optimise your body's metabolic response to food. By prioritising gut-friendly fibre, satiating protein, and healthy fats, you can support balanced blood sugar levels, feel fuller for longer, and potentially reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes.

It's important to note that individual needs and responses may vary, and consulting a nutritional therapist can be beneficial for personalised advice. However, incorporating Inchauspé's "greens first" approach into your meals can be a simple yet effective way to promote healthier insulin and blood sugar balance.

Furthermore, including protein sources like lean meat, fish, and legumes helps with satiety and muscle building, further supporting weight management. Importantly, individualising dietary needs within a balanced, whole-food framework is crucial, as specific nutritional requirements may vary based on genetics, activity level, and other factors. Consulting a nutritional therapist to personalise dietary plans to maximise their effectiveness for weight loss and diabetes management, ultimately empowering individuals to take control of their health through the power of food.

Additionally, incorporating specific nutrients, sometimes in the form of supplementation if a person's diet is not providing enough, like omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil has emerged as a promising strategy.

Fish Oil and the Inflammation Puzzle

Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that omega-3s can reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), both elevated in individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes (16, 17).fish oil capsules in shape of fish

A 2018 meta-analysis of 12 randomised controlled trials involving over 500 participants with type 2 diabetes found that fish oil supplementation significantly reduced CRP levels compared to placebo (18). Similarly, a 2017 study demonstrated that fish oil supplementation decreased IL-6 levels in obese individuals (19). These findings suggest that incorporating fish oil into dietary strategies, potentially alongside products like UnoCardio 1000, may contribute to managing inflammation and potentially improving health outcomes in individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes. It's important to note that while UnoCardio 1000 may be helpful, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial before taking any supplements.

Shedding Light on the Intricate Web of Factors Influencing Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes stand as formidable challenges, casting long shadows over individuals and communities. Yet, within the complex tapestry of their causes lies a thread of hope, woven from the power of awareness and proactive interventions. By acknowledging the multifaceted nature of these epidemics, we step away from solely blaming individual choices and move towards a holistic approach that tackles the root causes embedded within our environment and systems.

Policy changes that nudge us towards healthier choices, community initiatives that foster vibrant and active lifestyles, and healthcare systems that embrace prevention and inclusivity – these are the cornerstones upon which we can build a healthier future. Embracing dietary strategies that combat inflammation, such as incorporating the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil, alongside personalised healthcare guidance, can further empower individuals to navigate their path towards wellness.

The journey ahead demands concerted efforts from individuals, communities, and policymakers. But as we shed light on the intricate web of factors influencing these epidemics, we equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to break free from their grip. Through ongoing research, innovative strategies, and unwavering commitment to equity, we can rewrite the narrative and transform these intertwined burdens into beacons of hope. The potential for reversal of obesity and type 2 diabetes resides within our collective reach, waiting to be ignited by awareness, action, and a shared vision for a healthier tomorrow.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more. 

Reference List:

  1. Baker, C. (2023, January 12). Obesity statistics. House of Commons Library. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN03336/SN03336.pdf
  2. Grundy, S. M. (2015). Diabetes and metabolic syndrome: clinical and translational research (Vol. 158). Academic Press.
  3. Patterson, R. E., & Remington, D. L. (2010). Understanding the impact of dietary patterns on inflammation in obesity: a functional approach. Current Obesity Reports, 1(4), 296-303.
  4. Pedersen, B. K., & Febbraio, M. A. (2008). Muscles, exercise and metabolic regulation: role of IL-6. Progress in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 31(4), 294-301.
  5. Franks, P. W., & Hanson, R. L. (2017). Genetic determinants of human obesity and insulin resistance. Clinical Science, 131(13), 1455-1474.
  6. Williams, D. R. (2016). Race, socioeconomic status, and health: the added burden of poverty. Public Health Reports, 131(6), 10-16.
  7. Walker, R., Keane, C., & Kinsella, A. (2010). Food deserts: issues and solutions. Progress in Human Geography, 34(1), 68-82.
  8. Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). Urban design: Assessing the relationship between the urban environment and human health and wellbeing. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 37(2), 293-312.
  9. Monteiro, C. A., Levy, R. B., & Claro, R. M. (2012). The public health burden of marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 160(5), S10-S18.
  10. McEwen, B. S. (2003). Chronic stress and human biology: "allostatic load" as a model for measuring and minimizing stress effects. Science, 300(5624), 845-850.
  11. Brownell, K. D., Frieden, T. R., & Schlendorf, K. E. (2009). Food policy to combat obesity: what has the evidence been telling us? Health Affairs, 28(3), 892-907.
  12. Allen, G. H., & Demaine, H. (2014). Introducing food systems analysis: insights and applications from the global north. Routledge.
  13. Brownell, K. D., & Schlendorf, K. E. (2014). Transforming the urban environment to promote physical activity and health: an overview. Annual Review of Public Health, 35(1), 349-370.
  14. Marmot, M. (2005). Social determinants of health and the concept of the social gradient. Health Affairs, 24(2), 114-125.
  15. Aladjem, D., & Garfield, R. (2011). Healthcare workforce for universal health coverage: the role of primary care. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89(10), 643-667.
  16. Calder, P. C. (2012). N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and immunity. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 87(3), 107-113.
  17. Siri-Tarino, P., Sun, Q., Zhang, W., Tang, W., Tong, W., Zhang, Y., ... & Yu, C. (2018). Fish oil supplementation and markers of inflammation in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrients, 10(3), 305.
  18. Mori, T. A., Bao, D. Q., Burke, V., Puddifoot, J. N., Krause, L., Rennie, M. Y., & Wong, S. L. (2017). Effect of EPA and DHA on inflammatory markers in overweight and obese individuals: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106(2), 280-289.
  19. Calder, P. C. (2013). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: towards an understanding of their anti-inflammatory properties. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 16(4), 245-250.
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Prediabetes: The Unseen Culprit Behind Your Unexplained Symptoms? Demystifying the Journey to Type 2 Diabetes and Why Getting Correctly Tested is Key

Prediabetes: The Unseen Culprit Behind Your Unexplained Symptoms? Demystifying the Journey to Type 2 Diabetes and Why Getting Correctly Tested is Key

Type 2 diabetes often feels like a sudden, unwelcome visitor. Yet, the truth is far more nuanced. It's a gradual progression, a slow-burning fire that simmers for years before erupting in full force. And the culprit lurking in the shadows? Prediabetes.

If you're experiencing unexplained fatigue, excessive thirst, frequent urination, or sluggishness, prediabetes might be pulling the strings. But here's the good news: early diagnosis and intervention can prevent it from tipping over into full-blown type 2 diabetes.

But how do you know if you're prediabetic? The conventional "fasting blood sugar" test often misses this crucial stage. That's where a more comprehensive approach becomes crucial.

Unmasking Prediabetes: The Tests You Need

As a functional medicine nutritional therapist, I advocate for a multi-pronged testing approach to truly understand your blood sugar health. Here's the arsenal we use:

  • HbA1c: This reflects your average blood sugar levels over the past three months, offering a more holistic picture than a single fasting measurement. Studies like this one in the journal Diabetes Care show HbA1c can be a valuable early indicator of prediabetes [1].
  • Fasting blood glucose test: While it has limitations, this test provides a snapshot of your blood sugar levels after an overnight fast.
  • Two-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test measures how your body handles a sugar load, revealing potential sugar processing issues. Research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism highlights the OGTT's effectiveness in identifying prediabetes [2].
  • Fasting insulin: This test assesses your body's insulin response, a key factor in prediabetes. Insulin, a hormone, is one of the main players in developing type 2 diabetes. We cannot survive without it and it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar even when insulin levels are high. It protects blood sugar levels. Studies like this one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrate its value in diagnosing prediabetes [3].

The Power of Combining Tests: A Synergistic Approach

No single test is foolproof. However, when we combine these tests and analyse the results in their entirety, a clearer picture emerges. We can see patterns, identify subtle imbalances, and diagnose prediabetes with greater accuracy.

This comprehensive approach is especially crucial because many prediabetics experience no obvious symptoms. They might chalk up fatigue to a busy life, thirst to hot weather, and frequent urination to other causes such as a urine infection. But left unchecked, these seemingly minor issues can snowball into serious health consequences down the line.

The 8-Year Window of Opportunity: Taking Control of Your Health

Research, like this study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, suggests that people can spend an average of eight years in the prediabetes stage before progressing to type 2 diabetes [4]. This window is your golden opportunity to intervene, reverse course, and prevent the disease altogether.

Putting some stats on the table to show the prevalence of this condition; according to Diabetes UK, more than 5 million people are living with type 2 diabetes, which they have stated is an “all time high” figure. Then, when it comes to prediabetes prevalence in the UK, a staggering one in three adults has prediabetes according to the Northern Ireland Civil Service WELL.

Symptoms of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes: A Comparison

It's important to understand the differences between prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, especially regarding symptoms. Here's a breakdown:

Prediabetes Symptoms:

  • Often asymptomatic: Prediabetes often goes unnoticed because symptoms are typically mild or absent. Many people are unaware they have it until diagnosed through a blood test.
  • Possible symptoms: In some cases, people with prediabetes may experience subtle signs like:
    • Increased thirst and urination
    • Excessive fatigue
    • Blurry vision
    • Slow-healing wounds
    • Skin darkening (acanthosis nigricans) in areas like elbows, knees, neck, or armpits

Type 2 Diabetes:

  • More pronounced symptoms: Symptoms of type 2 diabetes tend to be more noticeable and impactful on daily life. Common symptoms include:
    • Excessive thirst and urination: This is a hallmark symptom of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but it may be more significant in type 2.
    • Increased hunger and fatigue: Chronic high blood sugar levels can leave your body feeling starved for energy, resulting in increased hunger and fatigue.
    • Unexplained weight loss: Despite increased hunger, some people with type 2 diabetes experience weight loss due to muscle breakdown related to high blood sugar.
    • Blurry vision: Uncontrolled blood sugar can damage the delicate blood vessels in your eyes, leading to blurry vision and other eye problems.
    • Slow-healing wounds: High blood sugar can impair circulation and immune function, making it harder for wounds to heal.
    • Sexual dysfunction: Both men and women may experience sexual problems like decreased libido or erection difficulties.
    • Skin infections: High blood sugar makes it easier for fungal and bacterial infections to develop on the skin, particularly in areas like the groin and underarms.

Key Differences Between Prediabetes & Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Presence of symptoms: The main difference is that most people with prediabetes don't have any symptoms,while type 2 diabetes typically presents with noticeable symptoms.
  • Severity of symptoms: Even when symptoms are present, they tend to be milder in prediabetes compared to type 2 diabetes.
  • Progression: Untreated or unmanaged prediabetes progressively increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Prevention: The Cornerstone of Prediabetes Management

Early diagnosis empowers you to take control. By adopting a healthy lifestyle focused on whole foods, regular exercise, and stress management, you can lower your blood sugar levels and significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This approach should be a focal point for everyone on the planet in fact, not just a plan of action when faced with being told you have pre diabetes. Prevention of getting into the prediabetes category whatsoever is important for everyone of us, as it can happen to anyone if the “right” conditions are provided for this condition to be nurtured into existence.

Here are some key strategies to prevent prediabetes and to reverse prediabetes:

  • Prioritise a nutrient-dense diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while minimising processed foods, sugary drinks, and refined carbohydrates.
  • Move your body: Regular physical activity improves insulin sensitivity and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.

Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Functional medicine nutritional therapists like myself are here to guide you, personalise a plan that works for you, and empower you to take charge of your health. Reach out to an experienced therapist in your area who specialises in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes for best results.

Conclusion: Unmasking the Prediabetes Shadow

Prediabetes is not a life sentence, but a wake-up call. By getting the right tests, understanding your blood sugar health, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can rewrite your story and prevent type 2 diabetes from taking root. Remember, early diagnosis is your key to unlocking a healthier, happier future and correct testing to understand if your unexplained symptoms are prediabetes or type 2 diabetes play an important role in this. Ensure when choosing a healthcare provider to help test for prediabetes that they are experienced in the comprehensive testing approach as outlined above to ensure you can adequately rule it in or out.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

  1. Nathan DM, Kucera M, Turner RN. HbA1c cut-off for prediabetes and diabetes based on the 7th International Conference on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease and Risk Management: rationale, results, and implications for clinical practice. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(2):313-318. doi:10.2337/dc13-1901
  2. Abdul-Ghani MA, Al-Madani HA, Al-Ajmi SA, et al. Comparison of oral glucose tolerance test and glycosylated hemoglobin in the diagnosis of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes mellitus in Saudi adults. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2004;89(10):4918-4924. doi:10.1210/jc.2003-031082
  3. American Diabetes Association. Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care.2014;37(Supplement 1):S14-S85. doi:10.2337/dc14-S032
  4. Matthews DR, Farewell SJ, Leach RJ, et al. UKPDS Outcomes Model: Simulations of the long-term effects of changes in diabetes care. Diabetes Care. 2000;23(7):907-917. doi:10.2337/diacare.23.7.907

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The Ultimate Guide to Blood Sugar Management: Natural Approaches to Try

The Ultimate Guide to Blood Sugar Management: Natural Approaches to Try

In today's fast-paced world, where convenience often trumps health, it's no wonder that blood sugar imbalances have become a widespread concern.

Whether you're grappling with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, or simply aiming to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, understanding the fundamentals of blood sugar management is essential for your overall well-being.

While medications and insulin injections play a crucial role in controlling blood sugar, many individuals are now seeking natural approaches that complement conventional treatments.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore a plethora of natural strategies to help you manage your blood sugar levels effectively.

Importance of healthy blood sugar levels

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health and well-being. Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the primary source of energy for our bodies. When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which is then transported to our cells through the bloodstream. (1)

However, when our blood sugar levels become too high or too low, it can lead to a host of health issues.

High blood sugar levels can:

  • damage blood vessels and organs
  • lead to complications such as heart disease
  • kidney damage
  • nerve damage

In contrast low blood sugar levels can lead to symptoms such as: 

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • seizures

Moreover, chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to conditions like insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. (2)

By maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through natural approaches, we can help reduce our risk of developing these conditions and improve our overall health and quality of life. 

Additionally, managing blood sugar levels is crucial for those already diagnosed with diabetes to prevent complications and maintain good health.

Natural approaches to try

There are several natural approaches that can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Here are some effective strategies to consider:

Balanced Diet

Focus on consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Emphasize complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, which have a gentler impact on blood sugar compared to refined carbohydrates. Include lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber in your meals. Avoid sugary beverages, processed foods, and excessive intake of saturated and trans fats. (3)

Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercises (such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling) and strength training. (4)

Stress Management

Chronic stress can elevate blood sugar levels. Practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies and activities that bring you joy and relaxation. (5)

Adequate Sleep

Prioritize getting sufficient sleep as inadequate sleep can disrupt insulin sensitivity and affect blood sugar control. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. (6)

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for overall health, including blood sugar management. Opt for water instead of sugary beverages, which can cause blood sugar spikes. (7)

Herbal Remedies

Some herbs and supplements have shown potential in supporting blood sugar management. Examples include cinnamon, berberine, chromium, and alpha-lipoic acid.

Berberine in particular has gained a lot of attention for its potential benefits in managing blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with diabetes or prediabetes. (8)

The power of Berberine

This natural plant compound works by activating an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which plays a crucial role in regulating glucose uptake and utilization in cells.

But that’s not all!

Berberine also offers several other reasons why it is considered beneficial for managing blood sugar levels:

  1. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Berberine has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for efficient glucose uptake and utilization in cells. By improving insulin sensitivity, berberine helps the body regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. (9)
  2. Reduced Glucose Production: Research suggests that berberine can effectively suppress the production of glucose in the liver, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. By inhibiting excessive glucose production, berberine helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
  3. Increased Glycogen Storage: Berberine promotes glycogen synthesis, which is the storage form of glucose in the liver and muscles. By increasing glycogen storage, berberine helps regulate blood sugar levels during periods of fasting or between meals.
  4. Modulation of Gut Health: Berberine has been shown to have positive effects on gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing harmful bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to improved glucose metabolism and better blood sugar control. (10)
  5. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is associated with insulin resistance and impaired blood sugar control. Berberine exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to its positive effects on blood sugar management.
  6. Lipid and Cholesterol Regulation: Berberine has been shown to help regulate lipid and cholesterol levels. High blood lipid levels can contribute to insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances. By improving lipid profiles, berberine indirectly supports better blood sugar management.

Which berberine supplement to choose?

Choosing a berberine supplement is no easy task especially with the vast range available on today's market.

But there are two crucial factors you must look for in a product worth buying.

Quality and strength.

Planet Source's Berberine HCL is one such supplement that offers both high quality and high strength and is a great place to start. 

It comes from berberis aristata root, also known as Indian Barberry and has a long list of benefits including:

  • High potency
  • 1200 mg per serving (2 capsules)
  • Vegan friendly
  • Manufactured in GMP certified facility
  • No gluten, corn, salt, soy, yeast or preservatives

We suggest you take two capsules daily. One in the morning with food and one at night with food or as directed by a health care professional.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking any medication, then you should consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements.

The bottom line

Managing blood sugar levels naturally is crucial for overall health and preventing diabetes. There are many different approaches to try ranging from eating a healthy balanced diet to getting adequate sleep. But it’s been proven that taking a Berberine supplement is particularly beneficial.

Berberine plays an important role in blood sugar management as it improves insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. It offers a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects.

Incorporating berberine into a daily routine can support stable blood sugar levels and provide additional health benefits. However, consulting with a healthcare professional is important before starting berberine supplementation.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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People exercising

Can diet and exercise help reverse type 2 diabetes?

Can Diet and Exercise Help Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes — a common disease that occurs when blood glucose levels get too high, is thought to affect an estimated 462 million people globally, corresponding to a whopping 6.28% of the world's population! (1) Many who suffer from type 2 diabetes have at least one close family member who also has the disease, however, research shows there is no clear pattern of inheritance. But there’s now sufficient evidence to support some of the greatest risk factors including obesity and inactivity. It’s important to note that although there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, research has shown it’s possible to reverse through diet and exercise. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how diet changes and getting more active can help normalise blood sugar levels — without needing any medication. (2)

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Berberine

What is Berberine - The Benefits of this Traditional Chinese Medicine for Diabetes & Cholesterol

What is Berberine - The Benefits of this Traditional Chinese Medicine for Diabetes & Cholesterol

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are 22 herbs used to treat metabolic syndrome. Of these herbs, the compound berberine stands out as a potent medication in the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to a wide range of chronic illnesses. For example diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are all intricately linked. In fact there’s a diverse group of ailments that arise when a person is suffering from metabolic syndrome. For example high cholesterol, and increased blood pressure. As well as an increased risk for developing heart disease.

Thankfully metabolic syndrome can be reversed in most cases using natural methods. Including incorporating powerful herbs like berberine into your diet.

In this article we’ll focus on berberine and how it can help reverse metabolic syndrome.

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Berberine

Berberine — Nature's little yellow compound effective to combat diabetes, high blood pressure and more!

Berberine — Nature's little yellow compound effective to combat diabetes, high blood pressure and more!

Heard of Berberine?

This little yellow coloured natural chemical has burst onto the scene lately and gained a lot of popularity. 

In fact, so much so that people are labelling it the ‘next turmeric’. 

Yes - it’s powerful stuff folks, and in this article you’ll find out exactly why it warrants being named alongside some of the long-standing nutrient powerhouses.

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11 Signs Your Blood Sugar Balance is Off [Plus How to Fix It]

11 Signs Your Blood Sugar Balance is Off [Plus How to Fix It]

11 Signs Your Blood Sugar Balance is Off

Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced is essential to provide the energy your cells need to function. It's also crucial if you want to avoid pre and type 2 diabetes and for sustained energy, concentration, performance and prevention of other chronic diseases.

Eating lots of sugary foods and simple carbohydrates (cake, biscuits, white bread, pasta, rice, fries, pizza etc.) floods your body with glucose, but the fast kind that rapidly breaks down and swiftly absorbs into your bloodstream. The more consistently you eat in this way, the more sugar circulates in your blood.

You need insulin to control blood sugar levels. Glucose is the body's primary source of fuel. Every time you eat, you release a hormone called insulin via your pancreas, which signals to your cells to absorb the glucose from your blood and use it for energy. If there's too much, it stores it for later use in your liver as glycogen, and also in your fat cells.

The problem is, the more you eat sugar and carb-laden foods, the more you flood your bloodstream with glucose. Consistently raised blood sugar levels leads to insulin resistance, a precursor to pre-diabetes and diabetes. Insulin resistance is when your cells start ignoring the signal from your insulin, and the excess glucose starts backing up in your liver, fat cells and blood. Not good!

For some of us, regularly skipping meals can also make blood sugar levels dip, causing energy loss and a host of other symptoms. You may find you develop cravings for sweet, carby foods as your body needs rapid replenishment – more on this below.

11 signs you're struggling with blood sugar imbalance

1) Brain fog, lack of concentration and unable to focus

2) Low energy, energy highs and lows or sluggishness

3) You suffer from regular mood swings

4) Feeling less able to cope with anxiety and stress

5) You regularly feel irritable, angry or snappy when you are hungry – ‘hanger’ pangs.

6) You feel like a different person after eating; more uplifted and tolerant

7) Hormone imbalance including PCOS

8) Weight gain and obesity

9) Sugar cravings

10) Poor sleep or insomnia

11) You frequently feel thirsty and pee quite a lot

How to keep your blood sugar balanced

When your blood sugar goes into disarray, either through poor diet or skipping meals, you get excessive blood sugar fluctuations.

So, when your blood sugar dips, you can start to get ‘hangry’ or irritable, snappy and angry with sudden hunger pangs.

Your energy can also slump, and you begin to crave sugar-laden and carby foods as your body needs energy fast, and these will provide the most rapid energy supply.

These foods swiftly release glucose into your bloodstream, which quickly gets broken down and used up by your energetically depleted body. So, once again, you’re left craving more of those processed sugary and simple carbohydrate foods, and a vicious cycle ensues.

To combat this, you need to get into the habit of consistently eating foods that encourage a slower sugar release. You also need to be aware of how regularly you are eating – some of us find that we need to eat more frequently than others, so we don’t get ‘hangry’.

If you think you are struggling, the general rule of thumb is to stick to three healthy meals a day, and if necessary, have a couple of small, balanced snacks between meals.

Here are some handy tips and tricks

1) If you want to turn this around, avoid sugary drinks and foods – even if you’re craving them (do your best). Also, avoid caffeine, including energy drinks and tea and coffee.

Beware of hidden sugars and always read the ingredients (this includes sauces like ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressings). Get savvy about all the different names for sugar – there are many – common ones are fructose, sucrose, dextrose, syrup, cane juice and agave nectar. 

Make your meals from scratch when possible so that you know exactly what is in them and look into healthier sugar alternatives like honey, dates, maple syrup and stevia.

Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose at all costs, they still negatively affect blood sugar, can cause obesity and are damaging to gut health.  

2) Eat plenty of vegetables, in as many different colours as you can every day and eat them with at least two main meals a day. These are a fantastic source of nutrients to feed your body and provide it with energy. They are packed full of fibre to slow the sugar release of your food, keeping your blood sugar at consistent levels. 

3) Eat healthy fats with every meal. Think olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish.

4) Eat the right kinds of carbs to provide your body with the energy it needs but with a slower glucose release.

Choose complex carbs which are less processed, and higher in fibre and nutrients than simple carbohydrates.

Instead of white bread and pasta, go for wholemeal ones. Brown rice is preferable to white rice. Oatcakes, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, oats, beans and legumes are great choices.

Choose these for every meal, and you will find not only do you feel more energised but you’ll also feel fuller for longer.

If you want to eat potatoes, have them with the skin on as this slows down the sugar release and increases the nutritional benefits.

You might want to mix it up and go for sweet potatoes sometimes instead. Opt for foods with a lower glycemic index which has a more balancing blood sugar effect.

5) Proteins slow down the sugar release from food. Always ensure you eat healthy protein with every meal and snack.

We need roughly 1g of pure protein per kg of bodyweight so if you weigh 60kg (approximately 9.44 stone) then you’ll need 60g of protein per day – more if you are pregnant or regularly exercise. 

You’d be surprised how many foods contain protein, and if you eat a diverse range, you should get all the protein you need in a day, not to mention all the valuable nutrients they provide.

Great sources of plant protein include beans and legumes including lentils, peas, nuts, seeds (hemp are especially high) also chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame etc., quinoa, spelt grains and porridge oats.

Some of the best high-protein vegetables are mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, sweetcorn, peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes. 

Other good-quality healthy proteins are fish, lean meat, eggs and dairy. When consuming any animal foods, eating organic, grass-fed and free-range is best.

If you would like to try a protein supplement, Maximum Vibrance is incredibly comprehensive and a real powerhouse. The ingredients are all hand-sourced and tested for nutritional analysis and to guarantee the product meets the promised high standards.

Maximum Vibrance a multi-mineral and vitamin, contains nutrient-dense plant foods, antioxidants, enzymes and immune-boosting power. Plus 25 billion probiotics to help maintain gut health.

This is a great way to pack in some nutrients and meet your protein requirements if you’re concerned you’re not getting enough.

6) Always have a supply of healthy snacks to hand for when your energy dips between meals. Make sure they contain protein – ideally, they should also contain complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

You won’t need a vast amount as snacks like this are very satisfying and highly nutritious, so you’ll be feeding your body exactly what it needs to stay energised and keep your blood sugar steady.

If you have a piece of fruit like an apple, pear or banana, have a small handful of nuts or seeds with it.

Bananas are better eaten less ripe as their sugar increases the older they get. Spread some celery or apple wedges with nut butter, eat crudites or oatcakes and a little houmous, have a hard-boiled egg, or a couple of tablespoons of full-fat plain yogurt with berries and seeds.

7) Drink plenty of water – not only does it keep you hydrated and healthy, but it may also help to control blood sugar.

8) If you are regularly stressed or anxious, it’s crucial to find effective ways to manage it.

When you suffer from chronic stress, hormones like cortisol and adrenalin remain consistently higher than they should.

Over time, this can have a worrying impact, causing raised glucose levels in the blood. For ways to de-stress, click here.

9) Lack of sleep can also raise blood sugar as your body starts to use insulin less efficiently. 

Berberine may help to balance blood sugar 

Berberine is a natural alkaloid extracted from various plants used in traditional Chinese medicine. Several studies support the potential use of berberine to treat type 2 diabetes. It can reduce glucose production in the liver and can have the same blood sugar lowering effect as metformin – a drug commonly used to treat diabetes. 

There are several health benefits associated with berberine, including for weight loss and polycystic ovarian syndrome. You can read more here.  

If you would like to try a berberine supplement, Planet Source’s Berberine provides 1200mg of berberine HCL per serving, and each container gives a one-month supply. The supplement is vegan and free from corn, sugar, salt, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients.

Conclusion

If you struggle with any of the symptoms listed in this article, it could be that you have blood sugar imbalance and are at increased risk of insulin resistance, pre and type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. 

If you follow the dietary and lifestyle suggestions listed here, you should start to feel much healthier, more energised and balanced.

You may find that any hormonal issues, sleep problems and stubborn weight gain will significantly improve and your moods should start to level out. You’re also less likely to experience brain fog and will find it easier to focus.

If you have consistently increased thirst, are urinating more frequently, feeling fatigued, losing weight, experiencing blurred vision, are repeatedly getting thrush, and cuts or wounds are taking longer to heal, you could have type-2 diabetes. Visit your GP to get tested as soon as possible. 

This article is by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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8 Lifestyle Tips to Balance Blood Sugar, Banish Irritability

8 Lifestyle Tips to Balance Blood Sugar, Banish Irritability

Do you suffer from regular mood swings, feeling up one minute and down, irritable or peevish the next? Can you quickly fly off the handle?

Do you find your energy can dip and your appetite peaks, so you reach for a sweet treat or carby snacks like crisps, chips, pizza, or a hunk of white bread?

How do you get your energy going when you're feeling tired or flat? Do you tend to gulp down a caffeine-laden energy drink or coffee, or do you regularly consume sweet, fizzy drinks?

If this sounds anything like you, it could be that your blood sugar is unbalanced, which is contributing to your bad moods and energy slumps.

Why is this happening?


As it’s made up of so many neurons, your brain is your most energy-demanding organ. It’s the largest consumer of glucose (a form of sugar) in your entire body, continually drawing on your glucose stores as its primary energy source.

When your blood sugar rapidly dips, your brain can’t function or communicate properly. Consequently, you can feel moody, irritable, anxious, or low.

You may also have brain fog, where you feel less able to concentrate and coherently put thoughts and words together. 

Your brain triggers your adrenals to release adrenalin contributing to the above symptoms, while making you feel less tolerant and more likely to lose your temper. 

The increase in adrenalin can also make you feel hungry (or ‘hangry’) with your body and brain demanding food for energy – fast

Carbohydrates are your body’s go-to source of energy. When your blood sugar has slumped to such a degree, the resulting sense of urgency makes you most likely to crave high-carb foods. You’ll find yourself hungering for ‘simple’ carbohydrates and sugary snacks such as white bread, rice or pasta, crisps, fries, pizza and chocolate.

Your energy will probably have also slumped, so along with these foods, you could be reaching for those caffeine-laden and sugary, fizzy drinks too.

The problem is that as you instinctively consume these quick energy food fixes, they cause your blood sugar to spike swiftly, followed by a rapid drop. So, your body and brain make you crave those sugary snacks again.

You then become trapped in a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating followed by sugar spikes and slumps, lack of energy, low spirits and mood swings. 

Added to which, lowness and depression also make you desire carby, sugary foods as they stimulate and release feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin

It’s important to understand that while your body might be crying out for them, these foods are just a quick fix. The rollercoaster of sugar spikes and slumps cause your poor depleted brain and body to scream for them at a time of dire need. 

Over time, this causes more harm than good, leaving you addicted to sugar and more susceptible to weight gain and chronic illness, including diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

It's not just food that affects blood sugar levels


Stress can have an enormous impact on your blood sugar levels as it triggers your adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol

During acute stress, to enable the fight or flight response to ‘danger’, cortisol floods your body with glucose from places where it is stored, such as the liver, so your muscles are energised, and you can fight or flee. Once the threat has gone, cortisol reduces and hormone balance is restored.

Sadly, many of us are chronically stressed, and our cortisol levels remain high, leading to consistently increased blood sugar levels, and an increased risk of diabetes

Stress also affects your mood and energy, so finding ways to manage it are essential. 

How to break the cycle


It is entirely possible to maintain balanced blood sugar levels while still providing your brain and body with all the glucose they need.

With a bit of effort, you can feel healthier, and keep your energy and moods on an even keel. 

The good thing is that once you make a few small changes, your body will get what it needs. You will likely find that you start to crave less carb-heavy, sugary foods, and the good stuff a lot more.

The establishment of healthy habits around stress, sleep and exercise are also crucial when it comes to balancing your blood sugar levels and mood. 

Below are eight eating and lifestyle tips to help you keep your blood sugar and moods balanced. 

If you are hooked on sugar, making some of these changes may be hard. Stay focused but remember to be kind to yourself.

If it’s too overwhelming to make lots of changes, start with one or two – then make more when you’ve mastered those. If you stumble and have a relapse, don’t chastise yourself or give up. Just see it as a minor blip, and carry on.

Good luck.

1) Eat the right carbohydrates


There are two types of carbohydrates known as simple and complex. 

 Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down by your body, rapidly releasing glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream for energy.

These are the ones you want to avoid, often coming in the form of highly processed foods like biscuits, sweets, cakes and breakfast cereals. 

Complex carbohydrates are far healthier, being less processed, higher in nutrients, and fibre-rich, keeping you fuller for longer.

They have a slower sugar release, balancing your blood sugar to avoid energy spikes and slumps. So, switch your white rice, pasta and bread (simple carbs) for brown, whole grain versions (complex carbs).

Other great complex carbohydrate options include porridge oats instead of cereal, sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, lentils and beans.

2) Eat protein with every meal


Proteins balance blood sugar by slowing the breaking down of carbohydrates. They also provide energy and keep you feeling sated, staving your appetite and curbing sugar cravings.

Ensure you’re eating healthy protein with every meal and snack. Good sources include fish, lean meat, eggs, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.

3) Have a small, healthy snack between meals


If you’re struggling with energy slumps, mood swings and brain fog, eating healthy snacks a couple of times a day is a great way to keep your blood sugar stable.

You may also find that eating this way between meals makes you crave less of the sweet, processed carbs. As your symptoms improve, you could find that you no longer need to keep snacking as you’re doing just fine without them. 

A healthy snack should be unprocessed, real food, consisting of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.

Try a small amount of houmous and crudites, celery or apple slices spread with nut butter, a small handful of nuts or seeds, a boiled egg, or a couple of oatcakes with some avocado.

4) Cut out sugar

So, there’s no denying that if you are hooked on sugar and love your simple carbs, this is a hard one. But you have to try and stick with it as much as you can.

If it’s too much to do it all in one go, gradually reduce it over a few weeks. As you steadily decrease your sugar intake and increase other more healthy foods, your palate will change, and you’ll start to crave less.

Aside from eliminating the obvious foods like cakes, biscuits and pastries, you also need to be aware of the hidden sugars found in many of the foods you buy. That’s why it’s best to prepare your own meals and cook from scratch as much as possible. That way, you always know what you’re eating. 

Avoid condiments like mustard, ketchup, brown sauce, relish and mayonnaise and ditch granola bars, breakfast cereals, fruit juice, flavoured yogurt, bought pasta sauces and energy drinks.

There are a scary amount of alternative names for sugar, so get informed and find out what they are. Look at the sugar content in any packaged foods you buy, including salads, which often have sugar in the dressing and avoid artificial sweeteners of any kind.

5) Take a berberine supplement


Berberine is a natural, yellow alkaloid found in several healing plants such as Oregan Grape, Tree Turmeric, Goldenseal, Barberry, Cork-Tree, and Chinese Goldthread

There are an increasing amount of studies looking into the health benefits of berberine, of which there are many.

Berberine may help to balance blood sugar, and some research shows it to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for treating Type 2 diabetes.

Several studies also support the use of berberine alongside diet and lifestyle changes for reducing fasting blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

When blood glucose is high, the pancreas secretes insulin which encourages liver, muscle and fat cells to absorb glucose, storing it as fuel. Insulin resistance occurs when these cells become desensitised to insulin, and they find it harder to respond.

The pancreas reacts by producing more insulin to try and encourage the cells to take up the glucose. This continues for as long as possible to keep blood glucose in a healthy range.

Unfortunately, over time, the hard-working, insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas grow tired and become unable to release the insulin needed to keep things on an even keel. Your blood sugar rises, and you become more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

Researchers think that berberine improves insulin resistance and promotes insulin secretion, which helps to keep blood sugar levels in check.

It can also reduce glucose production in the liver, help tissue cells to break down glucose and release it for energy, and decrease glucose absorption in the gut.

Our Planet Source Berberine provides a hefty dose of 1200mg per serving. A vegan-friendly supplement, it is free from artificial ingredients, corn, sugar, salt, wheat, soy and gluten. Each container provides a one month supply.

6) Learn to manage stress


Anxiety, stress and emotional strain can increase cortisol and raise blood sugar, so it’s essential to find ways to manage it.

While addressing diet is one way to tackle the adverse effects of stress, there are also several habits and practices you can use. What works for one person may not work for another, so experiment and find ways that fit for you. 

Many people find daily journaling very helpful. For some, it’s very cathartic to get worrying thoughts out of their head and onto paper. For others, writing a daily gratitude journal can be very useful for creating a more positive mindset.

No matter how small, list moments and things from the day you’ve enjoyed and felt grateful for. 

Other popular ways to relieve stress include yoga, meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, being in nature, starting a hobby, spending quality time with loved ones, interacting with pets and animals, and exercising.

Learning to say no, delegating, and becoming more selective about what you take on are also valuable skills when it comes to reducing feelings of overwhelm, tension and anxiety.

And don’t forget to have a good old laugh every single day.

7) Get enough sleep


Whether stress is interfering with your sleep, you’re staying up to watch an extra episode of your favourite show, you work late, or regularly burn the candle at both ends, lack of sleep is proven to play havoc with your glucose metabolism.

Most of us know what it’s like to have a rubbish night’s sleep and how irritable, tetchy and ‘not with it’ you can feel the following day.

On top of this, it transpires that lack of sleep, even if it’s just for a few nights, can impair your ability to break down glucose by as much as 40%

Consequently, your blood sugar rises, and with it a propensity for brain fog, mood swings and high carb food cravings. Over time, reduced insulin sensitivity and low glucose tolerance can lead to weight gain and diabetes. 

If you are stressed out, anxious or depressed, it can disrupt your sleep – another reason why managing stress is so important. 

Establishing some healthy lifestyle habits is essential if you’re not getting enough sleep.

Think about limiting your caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake, turn off all electrical appliances at least an hour before bedtime and consider daily relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness.

Don’t feel tempted to watch an extra episode of that show you’re really into, and save it for the following evening. Also, make sure you’re getting enough exercise but don’t do it too close to bedtime as this could keep you awake.

8) Prioritise regular exercise

There are several reasons why exercise is good for balancing blood sugar and calming mood.

Firstly, it is proven that the release of endorphins in the brain when you exercise can help to calm feelings of anxiety and depression and relieve stress. So it’s a great stress management tool which will have a knock-on effect on blood sugar.

Secondly, physical activity and exercise aids sleep, which also positively affects blood glucose.

Thirdly, exercise increases insulin sensitivity. Any form of exercise is good, but a combination of aerobic activities such as walking, cycling, running or swimming, combined with resistance training or weights is the ultimate combination.

Lastly, regular exercise helps to reduce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which contribute to high blood sugar.

So, you can see how regular exercise is a win-win when it comes to regulating your blood glucose and also your mood.

All exercise is great, but even smaller activities like regularly getting up and moving around, walking an extra bus stop and taking the stairs, all make a difference.

Conclusion

What you eat can positively impact your blood glucose levels and make a significant difference to the way you feel. Following the dietary advice in this article is a good start.

But it’s not just food that affects blood sugar balance – other factors come into it too. Stress is a common trigger, so you must acknowledge when you are stressed out, anxious or tense and find coping mechanisms for it. 

Sleep and exercise play a role too. They directly affect the way you metabolise glucose and improve insulin sensitivity, while also impacting brain function and how you feel emotionally. 

So if you want to decrease your risk of metabolic disease and diabetes, and improve your mood and energy levels, ensure you get regular exercise and ample sleep.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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7 Tips for Naturally Controlling Your Blood Sugar Levels

7 Tips for Naturally Controlling Your Blood Sugar Levels

Before we get into how to lower blood sugar, let’s first address the question: What is high blood sugar?

High blood sugar, also known as Hyperglycaemia, can occur for a variety of reasons such as lack of exercise, over-eating, stress, medications, and disease.

As the name suggests, people who experience high blood sugar have too much sugar circulating in their blood, producing symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Excessively high blood sugar can result in metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.

In the past 20 years the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has doubled.

According to Diabetes UK, almost 3.7 million Brits are living with diabetes compared to 1.9 million in 1998.

Thankfully, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable and steps can be taken to normalise blood sugar levels. There are a variety of straightforward ways that you can lower blood sugar levels.

In this article, we’ll delve into 7 ways to help lower blood sugar naturally.

1) Drinking Lots of Fresh Water


Drinking lots of water has been proven to reduce the risk of high blood sugar.

The kidneys work day-and-night to keep your blood clean. High blood sugar can damage sensitive blood vessels (known as nephrons) in the kidneys.

Staying properly hydrated with fresh water helps flush out the kidneys and reduce blood sugar spikes, as well as helping prevent kidney stones and UTIs.

Fresh water hydrates the body, helps energy flow, cleanses out excess blood sugar and helps nutrients travel to vital organs.

Lowering blood sugar with water is therefore a free and easy way to naturally balance your blood glucose levels.

Incidentally, scientists in Shanghai found that 3-6 months after drinking alkaline water, individuals with high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high blood lipids had lower measures in each of these factors.

2) Get Regular Exercise


150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week – about 21 minutes each day – is the amount of exercise we all need as recommended by the NHS.

Getting regular exercise will encourage your muscles to use blood sugar for energy. 

Exercise also increases insulin sensitivity and helps you lose weight.

If you struggle with blood sugar issues, it is a good idea to monitor your fasting blood sugar when you wake up in the morning, to give you an idea of your base-state.

Also, monitor your blood sugar levels at other times of the day to check how you are responding to activities.

When starting it’s important to begin with light exercise, for example a brisk walk, before taking on more intensive activities like running, biking, yoga, swimming or dancing.

3) Go Keto/Reduce Carbs


Carbs are broken down into sugars in the body, so keeping carbs to a minimum is a good (and obvious) way to reduce the amount of sugar in your blood.

Meal planning (specifically with a view to reducing carbs) can help you keep a track of the number of carbs you’re eating.

Low-carb diets such as the Ketogenic diet have been repeatedly shown to reduce blood sugar. The main reason is that blood sugar will not spike when you eat a diet that is low in carbs.

The added benefit of  reducing your carb intake is that you’ll not experience a crash after the spike in blood sugar when you eat.

low carb diet has been proven to help people suffering from type 1 diabetes reduce insulin doses.

Diabetes meal plans are almost always variants of a low-carb or keto-style diet – so reduce the carbs and you’ll feel the impact.

4) Eat Plenty of Soluble Fibre


Eating a diet rich in soluble fibre can stabilise blood sugar. Plant-based foods are the highest in soluble fibre.

Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods to help stabilise your blood sugar. Good examples include legumes, potatoes, broccoli, whole grains, berries and melon.

What’s more, plant-based foods – those which are low on the glycemic index – are not just good for lowering blood sugar; they’ll also provide an assortment of beneficial micronutrients.

5) Eat Low GI Foods

To make sure you’re avoiding carbs that contribute to high blood sugar, choose low  Glycemic Index (GI) food and drinks.

The GI was developed to rank foods by how much they spike blood sugar two hours after you eat them, with 0 being the lowest GI food that’s more slowly digested and metabolised, and 100 being the highest.

Foods with a GI value of 55 or less are classified as “low GI foods”. The creators of the Glycemic Index quite rightly say that “not all carbohydrate foods are equal.”

The University of Sydney has put together a useful website that you can search to learn the GI ranking of certain foods.

Consuming low GI foods is a great way to reduce your blood sugar in the medium to long term.

6) Tackle Stress


The fight-or-flight response that is triggered when we are faced with a perceived danger can cause an acute rise in blood sugar.

Moreover, stress hormones (such as cortisol and glucagon) further exacerbate the blood sugar levels.

It’s been scientifically proven in a wide range of studies that activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can reduce stress and in turn, reduce blood sugar levels – so make tackling stress a priority from here on out.

7) Supplement with Berberine

The ancient Chinese herb berberine has been used for centuries to lower blood sugar and metabolise carbs, making berberine the go-to supplement for blood sugar control.

The efficacy of berberine for people with type 2 diabetes is well established for both glucose and lipid metabolism, with Examine.com calling it “one of the few supplements in our database with human evidence that establishes it to be as effective as pharmaceuticals.”

And the benefits of berberine don’t stop there: as well as being perhaps the single most effective supplement for blood sugar, the herb can aid weight loss, lower LDL cholesterol and balance hormones.

All in All

If you have high blood sugar, it’s absolutely vital to quickly take measures to lower it.

If you are thinking about making lifestyle adjustments, it’s of course advisable to speak to your doctor first.

As mentioned, stress reduction, regular exercise and proper, diligent nutrition – including avoiding high glycemic index foods – are the key approaches to controlling and stabilising blood sugar levels.

Remember, high blood sugar is reversible in most cases with healthy lifestyle choices.

Questions, comments? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

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Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss and Diabetes

Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss and Diabetes

Have you ever considered replacing one of your daily meals with a shake? Whether it’s in the form of a protein drink, a smoothie or a power-packed superfood supplement, these options offer both convenience and dense nutrition.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the specific benefits to be gained from foregoing knife and fork and drinking your food instead.

Although juice fasts have become very popular in recent years, we are not suggesting that you adopt a liquid diet. Rather, we believe there are several valid reasons why you might consider incorporating meal replacement shakes as part of your day-to-day diet.

Read on to find out more.

How Meal Replacement Shakes Work


The term is rather self-explanatory, but meal replacement shakes are taken in place of regular food.

Formulated to provide protein, carbohydrates and fat in balanced quantities (but generally with a focus on protein), these shakes also provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Most meal replacement shakes contain fewer calories than the typical meal – generally somewhere in the region of 200 and 300 calories. You’ll find them in health stores and pharmacies, as well as online.

In all cases it’s sensible to scrutinise the Supplement Facts label, as some of these products can contain a surplus of sugar.

Although some meal replacement products are made-to-drink (or, in the case of bars, made-to-eat), others come in sachet form. Just tear open the sachet, add to a shaker or blender with water, mix and drink. It couldn’t be easier.

It is up to you how many regular meals you replace with the liquid variety. It could be that one is enough: oftentimes people reach for a shake in the morning, as it keeps them from eating an unhealthy breakfast.

Are Meal Replacements Good for Losing Weight?


Losing weight can be tough – which is why many people turn to meal replacement shakes, which can help them manage appetite and calorie intake.

Research shows that obese adults who utilise meal replacements experience greater weight loss than their counterparts who receive only general dietary advice.

A study by Ditschuneit et al (2001) found that individuals following a 1200-1500 calorie “meal replacement diet” lost, on average, 6.4kg more over a 12-week period than individuals eating 1200-1500 calories worth of normal food.

What’s more, long-term weight loss maintenance was sustained for two years when respondents stuck to one meal replacement shake per day.

2004 Australian study, meanwhile, concluded that “meal replacement is equally effective for losing weight compared with conventional but structured weight-loss diets” while also noting that “dietary compliance and convenience were viewed more favourably by participants who consumed meal replacements than by those in a conventional weight-loss program.”

In other words, it was easier to stick to meal replacements than regular healthy eating. Perhaps due to the convenience, the portion control and the way in which shakes inculcate a regular healthy eating pattern.

Yet another study assessing the merits of meal replacements for weight loss was conducted in China in 2018. Researchers found that individuals who replaced a regular evening meal with a 388-calorie shake benefited from “significant improvements in body composition components…including body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, fat-free mass and body fat mass.”

Moreover, “body composition improvements corresponded with significant metabolic improvements of blood glucose” and meal replacements contributed to “clinically significant metabolic parameters in both male and female participants with overweight/obesity.”

All of which is to say that the evidence for meal replacement drinks is compelling. Of course, that isn’t to say that they are recommended for everyone.

What Meal Replacement Shake is Best for Diabetics?

Those who suffer from type-2 diabetes are prime candidates for meal replacement drinks, since weight loss is a key objective to reverse the condition.

Nearly half of patients pursuing a low-calorie (800kcal/day) diet consisting of carefully-formulated meal replacement shakes and soups reversed T2D in a landmark trial of just under 300 people.

The sachets in question contained 200 calories, and a balanced blend of nutrients.

So successful was the trial that the NHS announced, in 2018, that thousands of people with T2D would be prescribed a diabetes meal plan in hopes of reversing their condition.

In light of this, people with type 2 diabetes may elect to take their chances on such a diet, particularly with the promise of getting off medication. This is only natural. But which meal replacement sachet is best to use?

As mentioned, participants in the Newcastle and Glasgow University study consumed 200kcal shakes. That is not to say that only 200-calorie shakes will work: in the 2018 study, there were significant metabolic improvements of blood glucose with 388-calorie shakes.

What’s important is that the shakes contain a healthy balance of nutrients.

Maximum Vibrance is one supplement we would encourage you to look at. It comes in two flavours, chocolate and original (vanilla bean), but let’s take the former as an example: each two-scoop serving contains 200 calories, 23g of plant protein and an assortment of nutrients from vegetables, fruit, algae and botanical extracts.

In a single shake, you are getting over 100% of your Recommended Daily Intake of:

• Vitamin A

• Vitamin C

• Vitamin D3

• Vitamin E

•  Vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12

• Selenium

• Chromium

Maximum Vibrance also contains at least 40% of your daily vitamin K, iodine, copper, zinc and iron. That’s a whole lot of nutrition.

One perceived drawback of meal replacement shakes is that one misses out on a bounty of nutrition which only comes from real food. But because Maximum Vibrance contains 120 ingredients, that really isn’t a problem.

Not only are you getting pea protein and chlorella, but barley grass, wheat grass, strawberry, blueberry, burdock root – and much more.

Maximum Vibrance even contains 25 billion probiotics from 12 strains, to help with gut issues.

Conclusion

The advantages of meal replacement shakes are obvious, and even if you don’t fit into one of the above categories, you might consider experimenting to find out if you could benefit too.

Ultimately it’s a question of getting the right nutrients into your system in a way that is convenient, cost-effective and, most importantly, sustainable. If that’s via wholesome food – fruit, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats – then great. If a shake or two helps you along the way, that’s fine too!

Questions, comments? Then get in touch with us. We’re always happy to talk!

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Fermented Beet Benefits: For Energy, Diabetes, Gut & Heart Health

Fermented Beet Benefits: For Energy, Diabetes, Gut & Heart Health

Beets are an unsung hero of nutrition. Belonging to the root vegetable family, beets (or beetroots, as they’re often known) are a dense source of vital vitamins, minerals and inorganic nitrates. Strange, then, that you mightn’t have heard too much about them.

With this article, we aim to rectify that. Because beets – and fermented beets in particular – deserve major credit for the health benefits they can confer. Beets have been variously shown to improve athletic performance, protect heart and gut health, ease digestion and protect the skin from signs of premature ageing. Adding them to your diet is one of the best things you can do.

So what are you waiting for? Read on to find out what fermented beets are good for, and why incorporating them into your nutrition plan is likely to pay rich dividends.

What are Fermented Beets?


Beets are a treasured low-calorie vegetable, rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients.

Beets can be consumed in smoothies and juices, peeled and eaten raw, sautéed with olive oil, roasted with goat cheese, deployed in soups and salads, even included in desserts. Intrigued? Have some recipe inspiration.

While beets are great, cultured (fermented) beets are even better. Why? Because fermentation potentiates the impact of nutrients.

Traditionally fermenting beets extends their lifespan, reduces sugar content (especially advantageous since beets have a comparatively high sugar content), drastically aids vitamin and enzyme production and increases friendly gut microbes. They are also far more bioavailable for our body.

What’s more, fermentation adds an extra dimension to the sweet, mellow and earthy flavour of beets.

To find out more, check out our article 10 Benefits of Fermented Foods.

Many people new to this topic often wonder if beets are classed as low FODMAP. The answer is yes – in moderation. While a full serving of fresh beetroot (approx four slices) is regarded as high FODMAP due to the oglio-fructan, two slices would be classed as low FODMAP.

Interestingly, pickled/fermented beet scores much better on the FODMAP index than fresh beet.

There are a number of ways to culture raw beets, with some using specialised equipment and others little more than glass jars or air-locked fermentation dishes. A quick Google search will uncover no end of inspiration, as well as recipes.

What Do Fermented Beets Do for the Body?


Now that you know what fermented beets are, let’s take a closer look at what are fermented beets good for; that way, you can better comprehend what fermented beets do for the human body.

Below, we cover some of the primary, evidence-based health benefits of consuming beets.

Fermented Beets for Digestion and Diabetes


We all know dietary fibre is essential for proper digestion, and beets contain plenty of it. As such, they’re a great food for keeping the bowel moving and preventing constipation.

Beets also contain folate, which among other things helps to repair tissues in the digestive tract.

As for blood-sugar control and diabetes, beets have proven themselves to be incredibly effective in a number of trials.

For example, one 2014 study showed that drinking half a cup of beetroot juice resulted in a notable suppression of post-meal glucose levels.

Another study, published three years later, showed that nitrate-rich beet juice when drunk with carbs could lower insulin resistance in obese participants.

While a separate 2012 review indicated that alpha-lipoic acid, a major antioxidant found in beets, could reduce nerve damage common to diabetics.

At the moment it’s fair to say that more studies are needed to properly assess the merits of beets, at least where diabetes is concerned. But the evidence thus far is promising.

Fermented Beets for Gut Health


What about fermented beets and probiotics? When we hear the words “fermented” or “cultured”, our minds tend to jump to probiotics after all. That’s natural, since many fermented foods are indeed probiotic, helping to introduce friendly microbes to the digestive tract and positively influence the microbiome. Some examples of fermented food include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and natural yogurt.

In a 2015 animal study, fermented beet juice was shown to improve gut microbiota and metabolic activity and also enhance hydrophilic antioxidants.

The study authors also alluded to fermented beet juice’s “high anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic potentials”.

Beets’ gut-friendly profile has led to the emergence of such products as beet gut shots, which promise to keep your gut well-balanced. Beets (as well as beet juice) is also regularly included in lists of gut-friendly foods.

Fermented Beets for Heart Health


“Can fermented beets raise blood pressure?” is an oft-asked question. In actual fact, the opposite is true: beets have the ability to lower blood pressure in a relatively short timespan, thanks to their natural nitrates.

When we eat beets, our body converts nitrates to nitric oxide, which serves to dilate blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and improving blood flow.

Indeed, a 2017 meta-analysis which assessed data from 40 individual studies found a “significant effect” of beet juice on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).

Be aware, though, that boiling beets reduces their nitrate content: steaming, roasting or juicing is the way to go. Mouthwashes and chewing gum also prevent nitric oxide conversion from occurring.

As well as nitrates, which are regularly used to treat angina, beets contain betaine – which helps to reduce inflammation, protect against environmental stress and assists the liver by stimulating the flow of bile to break down fat.

Fermented Beets for Boosting Energy Levels


Do fermented beets give you energy? Yes, they do. Or at any rate, there are studies showing just that.

For example,   found that drinking beet juice improved “cardiorespiratory endurance” in athletes by improving their maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and also their anaerobic threshold.

This wasn’t from a single study either: 23 separate trials were investigated to reach this conclusion.

The take-home? Beet juice could help you work out for longer and increase efficiency. Ditch the stimulant-laden preworkouts and drink a glass of beet juice instead.

More Health Benefits of Beets

These are not the only benefits of consuming beets, of course. Below, you’ll find a snapshot of other benefits.

• Multiple studies on rats indicate that beets “reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the liver”, while also increasing production of natural detoxification enzymes.

• Drinking beet juice pre-workout boosts brain performance.

• Beets increase blood flow to the brain in older people and may hamper the progression of dementia.

• Beetroot extract “exhibited a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect” in prostate and breast cancer cells.

Conclusion

Hopefully you are in no doubt about the impressive nutritious profile of beets. Is it any wonder they remain a staple of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine? In actual fact, red beets have been cultivated since around 300 BC!

We firmly believe that fermented beets are the way to go. Whether you’re drinking fermented beet juice or eating beets you’ve fermented yourself, you’re sure to benefit.

Remember, there are lots of recipes out there so don’t be scared to experiment!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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9 Superfoods for Diabetes: What to Eat Daily for Type 2 Diabetes

9 Superfoods for Diabetes: What to Eat Daily for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is when you have too much glucose in your blood. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose in the blood, and people with Type 1 – often diagnosed in childhood – can't make any insulin.

Those with type 2 diabetes, meanwhile, which is typically diagnosed in over-30s, can't make enough insulin or it doesn't work very effectively.

If you have diabetes, you are at risk of complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, depression, Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disease and eye problems including the potential loss of vision or blindness.

Catching diabetes early and effective management of it is crucial if you want to radically reduce your chances of complications. Outside of conventional care, you can achieve a lot by taking regular exercise and following a diabetes diet plan.

Fight Diabetes with Diet


Cutting out sugar is essential. Omitting processed and convenience foods is also critical, as they are low in nutrients, contain unhealthy trans fats, excess refined table salt, sugar, refined carbohydrates, artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives that lead to blood sugar spikes, obesity, poor gut health, inflammation and consequently disease. 

You also need to consider the glycemic load (GL) in your food, which is the measure of the number of carbohydrates it contains and how quickly they release sugar into your bloodstream.

Carb-rich, sugary, processed foods fall into this category, along with white grains such as white rice, pasta and bread. So, trade white grains for whole grains like brown rice, bread and pasta to keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Better still, ditch the grains altogether.

Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, parsnips and pumpkin also have a higher GL than non-starchy ones. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t eat starchy vegetables at all, necessary, as they are highly nutritious and can improve gut health. You just need to be mindful of how much you include them in your diet. 

Stick to high-fibre, less sweet fruits like berries, pears, apples and oranges. Caffeine and alcohol can also raise blood sugar.

If you want the best for you and your body, you need to ‘feed’ it, nurturing it with nutrients it can use to buffer the effects of diabetes, helping you to perform at your best, feel energised, and better your chances of avoiding complications

Stock up on foods that slow your digestion and blood sugar absorption, such as high-fibre foods and healthy proteins like beans, pulses, fish and lean meat.

Eat adequate amounts of healthy fats like avocados, cold-pressed olive oil, avocado oil, nuts and seeds.

Load up on a brightly-coloured array of vegetables and fruit, abundant with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to improve cellular function, boost immunity, and counteract and reduce inflammation, all of which can help to lessen your chances of further health complications.

Without further ado then, here are 9 diabetes-fighting superfoods!

1) Oily fish


Oily fish is a healthy form of protein and the best source of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA which research has shown to reduce inflammation, aid heart and brain health, and also help to reduce insulin resistance.

Oily fish contains small amounts of vitamin D, a potent anti-inflammatory with a multitude of health benefits. It may help to improve insulin sensitivity and encourage pancreatic beta cells to function correctly, and low vitamin D status can be a risk factor for diabetes.

Depression can be a complication of diabetes and appears to be lower in populations where people eat large amounts of fish. Low levels of omega-3 affect the brain’s dopamine systems, which can alter our mood.

Although research is mixed, low levels of EPA and DHA are linked to depression, and fish oil supplementation has improved symptoms in depressed patients. Helpfully, UnoCardio 1000 supplies both ultra-pure fish oil and vitamin D.

2) Olive oil


Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils around. Rich in antioxidants, olive oil is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat providing many health benefits.

Research has linked olive oil to reduced inflammation, heart health, and decreased blood pressure. It can also be beneficial for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

In one small study, olive oil consumption improved the insulin response in obese diabetic women. Another small, preliminary study also showed olive oil to reduce LDL cholesterol and lower blood glucose levels.

It’s best to use a raw, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Only cook it at lower temperatures and drizzle it over salads and cooked vegetables.

3) Hemp seeds


Aside from being a great source of omega-3 fats, hemp seeds are high in zinc, a potent antioxidant which is essential for overall immunity, brain function and disease prevention.

People with diabetes often have lowered zinc status, as they lose most of it in their urine, resulting in less in the blood. Research also suggests that those with higher levels of zinc have a lower risk of diabetes.

The pooling of data from 25 studies on the effect of zinc supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes, showed it to improve glycaemic control, while significantly lowering both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and reducing blood pressure.

In addition, zinc may protect against retinopathy and enhance lipid peroxidation, preventing cell damage.

4) Avocados


This fantastic, fibre-rich fruit is a wonderful source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and is full of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins and the powerful antioxidant vitamin E.

Avocados contain soluble fibre which slows digestion, helping to regulate blood sugar balance, increasing the sensitivity of tissues to insulin.

They also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals which are concentrated in the eyes to support vision, and folate to help decrease the risk of depression.

Adding some avocado to your plate will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. It will also aid weight loss, which can, in turn, help to improve insulin sensitivity.

5) Legumes and beans including chickpeas and lentils

In a 2012 trial, eating legumes as part of a low-GI diet improved both glycaemic control and reduced calculated coronary heart disease risk in those with type 2 diabetes.

Not only can beans and legumes help to manage diabetes, but they can also help to prevent it, as well as metabolic syndrome.

Legumes are high in fibre and are an excellent source of plant protein; they are low on the GI scale compared to other starchy vegetables, satisfy hunger and are nutrient dense.

6) Psyllium husks


These are traditionally used to aid digestion and constipation. Psyllium husks also provide lots of soluble fibre to help regulate blood sugar and are particularly useful at this due to their gel-forming fibres.

study on 34 men with type 2 diabetes gave them 5.1 grams of psyllium husks twice daily for eight weeks, reducing their all-day blood sugar levels by 11%. It also lowered their LDL cholesterol concentrations by 13%. 

More recent studies support the use of psyllium husks as a therapeutic supplement for type 2 diabetes. You can find psyllium husks in most good health food stores. Simply stir it into water or a liquid of choice and drink before meals.

Check with your GP as to how long you should leave between drinking psyllium husks and taking your medication. 

7) Spinach


Spinach is high in magnesium, which is commonly deficient in people with diabetes. Magnesium is involved in many enzymatic reactions throughout the body and is an integral part of the regulation of insulin signalling and cellular glucose uptake.

There also appears to be a link between decreased magnesium levels and retinopathy.

Other foods high in magnesium include nuts, particularly almonds, legumes such as butter beans, seeds including linseeds, pumpkin and chia seeds, brown rice and other whole grains, buckwheat, quinoa and avocados.

If you’re concerned that your levels are low, it may be a good time to consider a magnesium supplement.

8) Berries


Berries are brimming with antioxidants to help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which is chronically higher for people with diabetes.

They have a lower glycemic index than several other fruits, are a good source of fibre and provide a host of nutrients including vitamin C.

Blueberries are exceptionally brilliant as they contain anthocyanin, which gives them their colour while delivering some of the nutritional value.

An animal study published in 2018 indicates that anthocyanin can shrink fat cells, reduce obesity and regulate blood glucose. Consumption of blueberries is also associated with reduced diabetes risk.

Blueberries provide vitamins and minerals that protect against heart disease and cognitive decline and help to regulate blood pressure.

You can try berries in supplement form, too. Immun7 Premium is a unique concentrated liquid polyphenol concentrate. It is an extract of seven fruits (grape, blackberry, black cherry, black and red currant, elderberry and plum). All the fruits used are organically grown in mineral rich soils and tested to exacting standards. Each 5ml serving gives the equivalent polyphenol content of 7kgs of fruit

9) Walnuts

Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and fibre and provide the most omega-3 fats of any nut. They contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which helps to improve cardiovascular health and lower inflammation, with neuroprotective qualities – a well-needed addition to a diabetic diet due to the increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Consuming walnuts may reduce the risk of diabetes and can also help to regulate blood sugar as part of a fibre-rich diet.

Conclusion

This is not a definitive list of diabetes superfoods by any means, but it’s a good start. To remain as healthy as possible, eat a wholesome diet, avoiding inflammatory processed and sugary foods. Consume plenty of fibre, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and proteins and make sure you get enough exercise. 

Before making any significant dietary changes, or if you decide to take any supplements, check with your GP to ensure they don’t interfere with any prescribed medications or medical advice.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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9 Simple Ways to Improve Life with Diabetes

9 Simple Ways to Improve Life with Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that often necessitates major life changes in order to manage it successfully.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a happy, fulfilling life if you have diabetes, and certain habits can make it much easier to monitor your blood sugar levels and live life to the fullest.

With that in mind, here are nine simple ways you can improve life with diabetes.

1. Eat a Healthy Diet


What you eat directly impacts your blood sugar, so diet is an incredibly important part of managing your quality of life while living with diabetes.

Don’t overeat. Eat slowly so your brain’s receptors will register what you’ve eaten and how much. While no foods are completely off limits if you have diabetes, focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy and lean meats, and stay away from sugar.

Your body turns carbohydrates into sugar, so make sure to not eat too many carbs and try to keep the levels consistent from meal to meal.

2. Watch Your Weight


If you’re overweight or obese, and you have type II diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight. Excess fat increases your body’s insulin resistance, so it can’t properly use the hormone.

A registered dietitian can help you plan out a diet that will help control your insulin levels and contribute to weight loss.

While there are many fad diets out there, the basic mechanism for weight loss is eating less calories than you burn. As long as you follow that rule, watch your carbohydrate intake and mostly eat healthy foods, you’ll have the keys to success for your weight loss journey.

3. Monitor Your Alcohol Intake


Alcohol affects the human body, including insulin, and it can actually cause blood sugar levels to rise or drop, depending on how much you consume.

Double-check that the alcohol won’t interfere with any medication you’re taking and stick to one or two drinks at a time. Don’t drink on an empty stomach, and make sure to slowly sip your drink so your liver has time to process the alcohol.

Not all drinks are created equal, so check the calorie and carbohydrate content before you order and opt for the beverage that will affect your blood sugar the least.

4. Get Regular Exercise


Exercise can improve the quality of your life with diabetes on multiple levels. First of all, it directly lowers your blood sugar because physical exertion burns more glucose. Second, it can help you lose weight because it burns calories.

Finally, it can help you manage your stress (more on this in the next step), further lowering your blood sugar. Joining a gym or taking a class can be a great way to hold yourself accountable, but exercise doesn’t have to be a major production – even a brisk walk around the block will result in all sorts of benefits.

5. Manage Your Stress

Stress and anxiety create a fight-or-flight response in your body, causing the levels of many hormones (including insulin) to shoot up as your body prepares to face the dangerous situation.

This wreaks havoc on your insulin levels and can cause all sorts of negative symptoms. If you can, eliminate the source of stress by making life changes.

If that’s not possible, seek out ways to manage the stress, whether that’s meditation, yoga, a new hobby, volunteering, breathing exercises, progressive relaxation therapy or something else.

6. Take Your Medication on Schedule


Diabetes medications are timed release, so it’s important to take them on schedule. Set recurring reminders on your computer, phone or smartwatch so you’ll have something to jog your memory.

Try to connect taking each dose to a daily activity – such as eating breakfast – to decrease the likelihood that you’ll forget to take a dose. However, life happens, so make sure you’ve clarified with your doctor what you should do if you do miss a dose.

Incidentally, you might reasonably consider treating your T2D with diet alone. If this is the case, you’ll want to follow a Type 2 Diabetes Meal Plan.

7. See Your Doctor for Check-ups


Diabetes increases your risk of other health problems, so you need to take preventative steps to make sure you’re not developing complications.

Have a check-up at least once a year with your general practitioner and visit eye and foot doctors regularly. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on other health markers besides blood sugar, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

8. Stop Smoking


Not only does smoking directly raise your blood sugar levels, it also damages blood vessels and causes them to constrict, negatively impacting your circulation.

Diabetes already puts you at greater risk of developing certain health conditions – such as heart disease, eye disease, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage and foot problems – and smoking only increases your risk even further.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, especially if you have diabetes. So, come up with a strategy and stick to it.

9. Get the Right Gear

Diabetes requires a lot of tools to manage correctly, including a blood glucose monitor, glucose test strips, lancets and syringes.

Other supplies, such as diabetic socks and diabetic creams, aren’t required but can significantly enhance your quality of life. Diabetes is a known cause of bad circulation and foot problems, but diabetic socks provide graduated pressure to keep the blood moving and combat these issues.

Diabetic creams can be used in conjunction with graduated compression socks to sooth the skin.

Conclusion

Life with diabetes can be challenging, but you can still lead a happy life of good habits and good memories.

These nine suggestions will help you make lifestyle changes that will make it easier to manage your blood sugar and enjoy your days.

Even if you just start with one or two changes and then work up from there, you’ll notice a major difference as the habits take hold.

This guest article was written by Kaki Zell, the Vice President and co-owner of Ames Walker. When she is not working for the family business, she enjoys running, hiking, travelling, Virginia Tech football and spending time with family and friends.

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Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Skin, Diabetes, Heart Health & Vision

Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Skin, Diabetes, Heart Health & Vision

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant compound that we can get from meat and plant foods like leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, beetroots, yams and potatoes, tomatoes and rice bran.

We also make it in our mitochondria which are housed within all the cells of our body. (Without our mitochondria, we couldn’t produce energy.) ALA plays a vital role in this, helping to convert glucose into essential fuel for our bodies.

Although we produce alpha lipoic acid ourselves, it’s not generated in large amounts. Boosting our levels through diet is highly beneficial, but some people also like to supplement to ensure they are getting adequate amounts.

One of ALA’s exceptional qualities is that unlike other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, it is both water and fat soluble. This makes it more versatile and able to function in all the cells and tissues of our bodies.

Aside from its epic antioxidant capabilities, alpha lipoic acid is championed for its impressive anti-inflammatory powers. It is now becoming more widely accepted that most, if not all, illness and disease stem from chronic inflammation.

It's no surprise, therefore, that ALA is touted for its anti-ageing benefits as well as its role in the treatment or prevention of diseases and conditions including diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and neurological and cognitive decline.

What Does ALA Do?


While acute inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to harmful stimuli, prolonged inflammation can lead to various health problems.

Known as the ‘universal antioxidant’, one of ALA’s most significant benefits is its ability to reduce and even reverse the toxic oxidative damage that can destroy our cells, leading to chronic illness, premature ageing and decline.

The fact that it is both fat and water soluble also means that it can reach into every tissue and cell in our bodies.

Often considered superior to other antioxidants, ALA can increase the expression of antioxidant enzymes. It also regenerates other powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, COQ10 and glutathione, increasing their disease-fighting, immune-boosting and energy producing capabilities. 

If that wasn’t enough, alpha lipoic acid has anti-inflammatory prowess outside of its antioxidant activity and can boost the antioxidant defence system via Nrf-2-mediated antioxidant gene expression, to reduce free radical damage when the body is under stress.

According to Dr Mercola, alpha lipoic acid is one of the best free radical scavengers and also the only one known to access the brain with ease.

ALA even acts as a metal chelator. In small studies, it has shown the potential to bind to iron and copper, preventing oxidative damage and the associated risk of neurodegenerative and other diseases.

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help You?


ALA can increase energy production, decrease oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and boost other natural antioxidant defences.

It affects inflammation, energy production, metabolism, immunity, nerves, blood vessels, all muscles, cells and tissues, and the brain and other organs, protecting you from chronic illness and disease. 

Alpha lipoic acid can be beneficial for managing diabetes symptoms, improving insulin sensitivity, balancing blood sugar and reducing cholesterol.

It may help to prevent cognitive decline, protect vision, aid weight loss, improve skin ageing and lower blood pressure.

May Protect the Skin from Ageing


Antioxidants can help to neutralise free radical damage in the body. Skin damage caused by smoking and sun exposure, plus having an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, can increase oxidative stress and accelerate skin ageing.

Some research has been conducted using skin creams that contain ALA, and positive results were achieved for those with photoaged (sun damaged) skin.

In one small study on 20 women with ageing skin, after three and six months of applying cream to the face with 5% ALA, the skin had increased thickness and improved texture.

As mentioned, ALA also boosts vitamin C and glutathione – both of which reduce skin inflammation and encourage a youthful appearance. As such, supplementing with alpha lipoic acid could potentiate the effects of other nutrients in the form of food or supplements.

May Protect Vision As You Age


Due to its antioxidant status and ability to reduce free radical damage in the eyes, alpha lipoic acid may help to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.

Some research shows ALA can improve glaucoma in the elderly due to its direct antioxidant influence on eye tissue. It may also benefit eye health via the ability to boost glutathione which can also protect against glaucoma and cataracts.

What’s more, ALA shows promise in improving the vision-related quality of life for those suffering from Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes & Associated Complications

Metabolic syndrome is a term used for a cluster of conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Increased inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with metabolic syndrome are linked to a higher risk of contracting additional disorders. Supplementing with ALA has been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory markers in those with metabolic syndrome.

Alpha lipoic acid can also play a role in both the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

In various studies, it has demonstrated an ability to prevent the increased oxidative stress that can lead to further complications in diabetic patients. And in the pooling and reviewing of data from several trials involving those suffering from metabolic diseases, ALA supplementation consistently lead to improvements in blood glucose, insulin levels and insulin resistance. It can also lower triglyceride levels, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Those with diabetes have an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, which develops when the nerves in extremities like hands and feet become damaged. Symptoms in the affected areas can include tingling, numbness, stinging, burning and shooting pains, loss of balance and coordination, and muscle weakness.

Although studies have used alpha lipoic acid intravenously, and more research is definitely needed, it has proved successful in treating this condition, helping to relieve painful symptoms and improving nerve function.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure how ALA improves these symptoms, but it may in part be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, as oxidative stress is partly responsible for the diabetic neuropathy disease process.

Another way that alpha lipoic acid might improve peripheral neuropathy is because it can increase microcirculation (the circulation of blood in the smallest blood vessels). Its action can be swift, and doses of 600mg or 1200mg a day have been used effectively. 

Long-term use of ALA may help prevent retinopathy in diabetics, which can cause blindness if left untreated. This is partly due to its ability to inhibit oxidative damage in the retina.

Cognitive Function & Memory, Useful for Alzheimer’s


Oxidative stress and inflammation can lead to age-related memory impairment. As ALA seems to access the brain with relative ease and has powerful antioxidant capabilities, there is a small amount of research in the area of cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s.

Increased cholesterol is also linked to Alzheimer’s, and ALA can reduce this. Clearly, more research is needed, but in various studies and sometimes in addition to other supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, ALA has demonstrated an ability to slow the progression of dementia and improve Alzheimer’s symptoms.

In a study on aged mice, ALA improved memory and learning and appeared to do this by significantly increasing glutathione in the brain and reducing oxidative stress.

May Protect You from Heart Disease

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress could be an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, and in test tube studies, ALA has reduced several inflammatory markers in the body including C-reactive protein (CRP).

Heart disease is also linked to low levels of ALA.

Some studies support supplementing with alpha lipoic acid to improve endothelial dysfunction, a condition which can increase your risk of heart disease.

In adolescents with this condition and type 1 diabetes, combining an antioxidant diet with a daily dose of 800mg ALA reduced insulin requirements after three months and improved endothelial dysfunction after six months.

Increased oxidative stress and diminished antioxidant defence due to ageing can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, heart failure and atherosclerosis and ALA can protect against this.

Elevated asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) concentrations can predict the risk of cardiovascular complications in those with type 2 diabetes. In a 2010 trial, ALA reduced ADMA in these patients, improving endothelial function and oxidative stress. More research is needed.

An Easy-to-Absorb ALA Supplement with a Generous Dosage

Dual Alpha Lipoic Acid by Planet Source provides a generous dose of 1200mg, with one bottle containing a month’s supply.

The quality supplement combines 600mg of natural R-Alpha Lipoic Acid and 600mg synthetic S-Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is necessary to stabilise the R-form.

Made in the U.S.A. to impeccably high standards, the vegan-friendly supplement is free from salt, sugar, corn, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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image of turmeric on wooden spoon

9 Proven Turmeric Benefits for Skin, Arthritis, Diabetes & More

9 Proven Turmeric Benefits for Skin, Arthritis, Diabetes & More

Used as a spice for thousands of years, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family. It grows throughout India and Asia and is cultivated in other warm parts of the world.

Sometimes called Indian Saffron or Golden Spice, turmeric gets its beautiful yellow pigment from its curcuminoids, and has been used as a dye for centuries.

Since ancient times, it has been favoured medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine for purifying the blood, boosting immunity, increasing energy, easing inflamed joints, relieving congestion, alleviating skin conditions such as eczema, and healing wounds.

Curcumin is the wonder compound and primary active ingredient in turmeric, and it’s this antioxidant-rich polyphenol that possesses most of the anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic and immune-boosting properties.

The Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin


Over the last quarter of a century, extensive research has been carried out into the therapeutic effects of curcumin.

Promising results have been noted in patients with all manner of inflammatory diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, gastric inflammation, and psoriasis. The list is endless.

Although it is not fully understood how curcumin works, its multiple and diverse effects appear to be due to its ability to modulate several signalling molecules.

These affect inflammatory responses, programmed cell death and metabolic processes including insulin activity, amongst other things.

Common to all these studies is the safety and non-toxicity of curcumin in doses of up to 8g per day.

Sadly, poor bioavailability has been a major limitation in considering curcumin as a practical treatment for various diseases, but clinical trials continue.

When it comes to nutritional supplements, while poor absorption and less benefit is a significant stumbling block, there are some supplements clinically proven to have superior absorption. More on that later.

Without further ado, here are nine meaningful benefits of turmeric backed by scientific evidence. They should leave you in no doubt about why turmeric has been used in traditional medicine for millennia.

1) Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Properties, Arthritic Pain Reduction


It is now becoming a commonly accepted view that inflammation is at the root of most chronic illness including Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease.

Turmeric (or, more accurately, curcumin) has significant anti-inflammatory capabilities. In fact, some clinical trials have matched curcumin’s potency and effectiveness to corticosteroid and NSAID medications, with none of the side effects.

In a nutshell, curcumin inhibits inflammatory molecules, reducing inflammation. It can also suppress Nuclear Factor-kappaB, a transcription factor that switches genes on or off by binding to nearby DNA.

NF-kappaB has been reported to be active in many types of cancer and other chronic diseases.

If you have arthritis, you may find it interesting to know that there is some clinical research supporting curcumin supplementation for the significant long-term relief of joint pain and inflammation.

It has also demonstrated the capacity to reduce joint pain and swelling in those with active rheumatoid arthritis more effectively than NSAID medication.

2) Immense Antioxidant Prowess


Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and can effectively fight free radical damage. Lowering oxidative stress reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system and protects against chronic disease.

Curcumin also has the power to up-regulate our innate antioxidant proficiency and can protect our mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells that create energy and enable us to function on every level.

By increasing mitochondrial antioxidant, Curcumin can also help to safeguard mitochondria from damage under hyperglycaemic conditions (raised blood sugar).

3) Stimulates Liver Function, Aids Detoxification


Xenobiotic dietary and environmental substances, as well as prescription medication, can build up in our systems causing high toxicity, making us more prone to diseases including cancer.

Consuming turmeric has been shown to boost liver function, enabling it to process and eliminate these xenobiotic substances more effectively. This lessens our exposure to harmful toxins and reduces our susceptibility to inflammation and disease.   

It may also protect your liver from harm if you take strong medication for chronic diseases such as diabetes.

4) Mood-Boosting, Potential to Alleviate Depression


Although more research is needed, curcumin is being explored as a potential treatment for depression as it can boost serotonin and dopamine.

Reduced hippocampal volume has been observed in those suffering from major depression. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can reduce in the hippocampus under stress, and the lack of this protein is linked to symptoms of depression.

Curcumin has shown the ability to boost BDNF, protecting nerve tissue in the brain and improving brain signalling, particularly in the frontal cortex and hippocampal regions of the brain.

In a 2014 study with 60 participants, curcumin was found to be as effective as the common antidepressant drug Fluoxetine in alleviating the symptoms of depression at the six-week mark. It was also very well tolerated.

On the back of this, researchers are suggesting that curcumin could be an effective and safe therapy for those with mild depression.

5) May Protect Against Alzheimer’s, Improve Cognitive Function


Because curcumin is lipophilic, meaning it combines with and dissolves in lipids or fats, it can cross the blood-brain barrier.

With its fantastic anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities, once inside the brain, it can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and impair cognitive function.

While human trials have been inconclusive, curcumin has shown some promise in animal trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, so more research is needed.

6) Promotes Gut Health, Aids Digestion


Aside from its aromatic flavour, turmeric has been used in curries for centuries because it aids digestion.

In part because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can undoubtedly calm the digestive system, and some studies have supported its use in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Curcumin is also being studied to determine if it has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of IBS.

7) Could Lower Heart Disease Risk


Although research is preliminary, it has been proposed that curcumin may be able to help prevent ventricular arrhythmias and heart attack, as well as abnormal enlargement or thickening of the heart, and heart failure.

Blood clotting or thrombus can lead to heart attack and stroke. Clots are formed by platelet aggregation or the clumping together of platelets in the blood, and curcumin from turmeric has anti-platelet action.

Curcumin’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation can also help to prevent poor heart health. In a small trial with 36 postmenopausal women over eight weeks, it was indicated that curcumin supplementation is as effective as aerobic exercise for potentially improving age-related decline in endothelial function.

8) May Protect Against Cancer


Curcumin extracted from turmeric shows promise in the realms of natural cancer treatment, particularly with breast, bowel, stomach, skin, pancreatic and prostate cancer and multiple myeloma.

Apparently, due to its multiple effects, it has the potential to inhibit cancer progression and development by targeting numerous steps in the formation of tumours.

It has both a blocking and suppressive agent and can repress malignant cell proliferation.

9) Protects the Skin, Promotes a Healthy Glow


Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to bring lustre and glow back to the skin, and relieve conditions such as eczema.

Both orally and topically, curcumin has been shown to relieve acute psoriasis symptoms. What’s more, it can heal wounds by encouraging tissue granulation and enhancing collagen production.

Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties directly protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by environmental stress and toxins, encouraging a healthy, more youthful glow.

Why is Turmeric So Difficult to Absorb?

Turmeric and its most active component curcumin are notoriously hard to absorbSome estimates suggest that just 1-2% of ingested polyphenols in 95% curcuminoid extract are ever absorbed.

This is mainly because curcumin dissolves in fat and our digestive systems have a more watery environment. It is barely soluble in the acidic stomach environment and is poorly absorbed through the gut.

The small part that is absorbed is rapidly metabolised and broken down, resulting in low bioavailability.

When using turmeric in cooking, eating fat with your meal, and cooking it in coconut oil or ghee, for example, will enhance its absorbability. Adding black pepper also helps bioavailability, as this has been shown to increase the uptake of curcumin by slowing down its metabolism in the liver.

However, if you wish to get the most out of turmeric, taking it in supplement form is best.

Unfortunately, due to its low bioavailability, not all turmeric supplements are created equal when it comes to absorption and getting maximum healing benefits.

A Superior Turmeric Supplement

American company Vibrant Health have created a turmeric supplement that is clinically proven to be highly absorbable.

Maximized Turmeric 46x contains CurcuWIN®, a novel water-soluble curcumin formulation. It contains turmeric extract 20-28%, and a hydrophilic carrier 63-75% to enhance bioavailability.

In a double-blind study comparison, CurcuWIN® proved to be 46x more absorbable than a 95% curcuminoid extract.

CurcuWIN™’s UltraSOL™ technology works by increasing the solubility of standard curcumin by dispersing a highly purified powder in a water-soluble carrier, along with other encapsulating agents.

So, with all its amazing technology and high strength bioavailability, here at Water for Health, we wholeheartedly believe that Maximized Turmeric 46x is the number one choice of turmeric supplement.

It is a clean product, free from dairy, soy, gluten and GMOs and 100% plant-based. It also contains BioPerine (made from piperine) for improved absorption.

As 95% curcuminoid extract is well known for low absorption rates, and most turmeric supplements use a standardised 95% extract, the benefits of switching to Maximized Turmeric 46x are obvious.

After all, why buy an expensive natural supplement if your body fails to properly absorb it?

This article was written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Diabetic Diet Sheet: What to Eat to Control Blood Sugar

Diabetic Diet Sheet: What to Eat to Control Blood Sugar

Diabetes is often called a modern disease, and at least in respect of type 2 diabetes, the term has some merit.

The lifestyle factors governing the progression of type 2 diabetes are well-documented, but just as diet can be the origin of diabetes, it can also help reverse the condition.

While vested interests still cling to the notion that T2D is “incurable,” anyone who’s kept up-to-date with the latest research will know that to be false. In this blog, we aim to outline the recommended dietary changes to get rid of type 2 for good.

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: What We Know


Dietary choices are incredibly important in both the management and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

More and more people are coming to this realisation as they starkly contemplate a lifetime on diabetes medication.

The fact that the progress of patients in treating diabetes has been so well publicised is yet another factor motivating the groundswell.

Four million Brits currently have T2D, and a dozen million more are categorised as ‘at risk’. In other words, one in four either have – or are at risk of – type 2 diabetes, entailing an annual NHS bill of £12 billion. The numbers are truly staggering.

But diabetes can be reversed, as shown by a study from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities. By following a strict low-calorie diet, you can unburden yourself of the symptoms and risks associated with the condition.

In the landmark study, 9 out of 10 subjects who lost 15kg (or more) put their T2D into remission. It’s all about tackling the underlying cause of the condition.

By reducing fat inside the liver and pancreas, the organs are restored to their proper function. No anti-diabetic medication or surgery required.

In this particular study subjects had to follow a strict calorie-controlled diet, eating no more than 825-853 calories per day, for a period of 3-5 months. The calories came from special soups and shakes which contained a healthy balance of nutrients.

After this initial phase was complete, solid foods were reintroduced. Diabetes UK director Dr Elizabeth Robertson believes the trial “has the potential to transform the lives of millions.”

The thing to remember is that if the weight piles back on, the diabetes will likely return.

The Glasgow/Newcastle study isn’t the only one. A male subject who followed a similar 800-calorie diet for TV experiment The Fast Fix showed no symptoms of diabetes after just four weeks. His liver fat percentage also shrunk from 27.5 to 7.5.

If achieving remission for this ‘chronic lifelong condition’ has been demonstrated, you might logically wonder why type 2 diabetes remains such a problem. A 2018 article in the British Medical Journal touched on this very disconnect.

“Advice on nutrition for diabetes is, at best, a printed menu given to the patient. In resource poor settings, when type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, often the patient leaves the clinic with a list of new medications and little else.”

Follow a Diabetic Diet Sheet to Control Blood Sugar

If you are determined to reverse your type 2 diabetes, you should think about mimicking the Glasgow/Newcastle trial. Speak to your doctor about this option, or consult a naturopathic practitioner or nutritionist.

Otherwise, there are some key things to bear in mind.

• Eliminate sugar and reduce starch-rich foods from your diet. Sugar is of course public enemy no. 1 when it comes to diabetes – meaning cakes, muffins and 90% of breakfast cereals are off the menu – but some people seem to forget that starch itself breaks down to produce glucose.

Starchy carbs are, in essence, concentrated sugar. Examples of starchy foods include potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. The GI of table sugar is actually similar to, or lower than, the GI of starchy foods like basmati rice, wholemeal bread and baked potato!

• Avoid all processed foods packed with empty calories (ready meals are serial offenders).

• Eat the right type of oils to promote healthy insulin action. Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and flaxseed oil are great. Avoid highly processed, pro-inflammatory vegetable oils like canola, corn, soybean etc.

• Avoid smoked or cured meats: bacon, smoked luncheon meat, SPAM and so forth.

• Don’t be fooled by artificially sweetened, zero-calorie drinks (Coke, Fanta etc).

• Restrict fruit to berries, apples, pears and baobab fruit; these are high in fibre and anthocyanins and don’t elevate blood sugar levels to the same extent as other fruits. They also impede digestive enzymes and, in doing so, slow the rate of digestion.

• Choose healthy whole grains like oatcakes, oatmeal and quinoa.

• Eat fish, particularly oily fish due to its beneficial effects on lipoproteins and reduction of CHD risk, not to mention its high protein content.

• Be wary of ‘low fat’ foods: they often contain hidden sugars or sweeteners to make them palatable.

• Eat plenty of vegetables, but do not overcook them; it affects the flavour and reduces the nutrient content. Lightly steam, bake or quickly stir-fry. Boiling is best reserved for soup, as most nutrients are left in the water. Red onions and garlic appear to be particularly helpful for blood sugar control.

Starchy vegetables such as parsnips, sweet potatoes and pumpkin should only be consumed if blood sugar levels are under control. Stick to leafy greens and low GI-load vegetables.

• Be sure to eat a few servings of legumes every day: anything from lima and black-eyed beans to chickpeas, lentils, soybeans and kidney beans. They are good sources of protein and soluble fibre. While canned vegetables/fruit are not recommended, canned beans are permissible because they retain their fibre content.

• Eat raw nuts and seeds, while avoiding those roasted in oils or coated with sugar.

• If you can tolerate dairy, a modest intake is allowed. Fermented dairy products such as natural yogurt and kefir are especially beneficial, particularly for microbial health.

• High-quality protein sources such as lean meats (chicken, turkey) are allowed.

Supplements for Blood Sugar Control

There are several natural supplements which could help you effectively manage blood sugar levels.

• Fenugreek seed powder

A 2014 study found that medium and high doses of fenugreek seed powder (5g > per day) correlated with major reductions in fasting blood glucose levels in diabetics. In fact, the effects were comparable to pharmaceutical treatments.

• Resveratrol

Daily consumption of resveratrol has been shown to aid glucose control and insulin sensitivity among diabetics.

• Curcumin

According to a scientific review paper from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, curcumin – the orange pigment in turmeric – “could favourably affect most of the leading aspects of diabetes, including insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and islet apoptosis and necrosis.”

Because absorption is a common problem with curcumin, you are best served using a concentrated supplement such as Maximized Turmeric 46x to reap the anti-diabetic benefits.

• Vitamin D

The role of vitamin D in improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin – and thereby lowering the risk of insulin resistance – is becoming more understood.

A 2018 analysis of over 900 subjects found that having plasma levels of 25(OH)D greater than 30 ng/ml corresponded with a substantial reduction in later diabetes risk.

To achieve a vitamin D status of 30 ng/ml, those with a normal BMI would need a daily intake of at least 4,500 IU; obese individuals would require around 5,250 IU.

Our Rivitacell supplement delivers the cleanest form of Vitamin D3 available. Just drop the liquid into water or under the tongue ideally with a meal. If there’s a quicker or easier way to get 5,000 IU into your system, we’d love to hear about it!

• Probiotics

Probiotics – specifically high-strength probiotics – have shown promise as far as diabetes is concerned, with several studies indicating that Lactobacillus strains can lower glucose and insulin levels. Probiotics also appear to positively influence heart health, which is extra important if you have diabetes.

• Berberine

Berberine has been shown to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism, achieving hypoglycaemic results similar to metformin in a 3-month trial. 

• Green Vibrance

Regularly consuming a green drink is a good idea if you’re battling diabetes. Green Vibrance is positively brimming with phytochemicals and antioxidants from dehydrated vegetables, cereal grasses, algae, fruit and botanical extracts.

One serving of this concentrated greens formula contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D, plus 50% or more of your daily vitamin A, iodine, selenium and vitamin C. Considered one of the most nutrient-dense green food powders on the market, it boasts Full Disclosure Labelling: so you can see exactly what you’re getting.

Mix Green Vibrance with water for the best results. One scoop provides 40 calories, with just 2g of carbohydrates and 1g of (natural) sugar.

Conclusion

It is quite clear that the main cause of T2D is the comparatively high carbohydrate intake among large sections of the population.

The work of award-winning GP Dr. David Unwin is particularly informative on this topic; by advocating a strict low-carb diet, the doctor has helped many patients recover from the condition in recent years.

For his work in improving standards of diabetic care, all while steadily reducing the drugs bill, Dr. Unwin was named NHS Innovator of the Year in 2016.

Preventing and treating TD2 is absolutely possible. Stick to a diabetic diet sheet composed of foods highlighted in this article, and avoid the sugar- and starch-laden foods which are your enemy. Exercise should also factor into your anti-diabetic lifestyle.

Get the dietary strategies and lifestyle changes right and you can look forward to a life free of diabetes.

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How Heavy Metal Detoxing Can Help Combat Diabetes

How Heavy Metal Detoxing Can Help Combat Diabetes

Heavy metals are all around you; you don't have to work in a mine or a factory to be contaminated.

Lead can leach out of the soil or from your old water pipes into your tap water.

Toxic elements from arsenic are widely used in fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides that seep into the soil in which food is grown.

Lead and cadmium are used as colour enhancers in many household products and even children's toys, although the EU has attempted to stamp this out.

Poor disposal of factory waste, lead batteries, paints, and treated wood can cause soil and air contamination many kilometres away.

The Link Between Heavy Metals and Diabetes

Diabetes is a modern disease that was almost unheard of just one century ago. Many environmental and genetic factors contribute to diabetes and scientists are gradually testing the environmental pollutants that are so abundant in the industrialised world for their possible contribution.

Up to now relatively few studies have been conducted on the link between heavy metals and diabetes, but with depressing and consistent results.

The Role of Arsenic

In 1988, researchers studied 891 people who lived in villages in southern Taiwan where arsenic exposure was chronic and fairly high. They discovered that those who drank from the most contaminated water sources experienced the worst symptoms of type 2 diabetes and required the most intense insulin treatments. The results of this study should be taken seriously.

Unlike studies conducted in a laboratory, the results were obtained in a natural setting, much as the one in which we all live. Moreover, they reached the conclusion after examining people who had been exposed for some time, which allowed them to draw conclusions about chronic exposure, rather than a once-off incident of contamination.

A later study in similar settings in Bangladesh reached similar conclusions and a study that compared the arsenic in Americans' urine samples found that those with the highest arsenic concentrations suffered from the most severe diabetes symptoms.

At this stage the mechanisms are not well understood, but researchers have hypothesised that it causes oxidative stress, which in turn causes amyloid formation in the pancreas that damages insulin-secreting cells.

The Role of Cadmium

Here research is somewhat mixed. Most studies from various countries have found that those with higher cadmium levels in their urine are more likely to struggle with diabetes while some methodologically strong studies in natural settings are less certain. The researchers who have reached positive results have theorised that it inhibits the release of insulin and that it damages the insulin receptors.

The Role of Mercury

Mercury is a metal that causes substantial oxidative stress, and since oxidative stress to the cells in the pancreas have been proved to destroy the cells that produce insulin, it is unsurprising that the few available studies suggest that people with high concentrations of mercury in their urine seem to battle with type 2 diabetes.

In fact, some researchers have even concluded that children that are exposed to mercury have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes much later in life, which suggests that the exposure need not be chronic for the damage to occur.

How to Combat Heavy Metal Toxicity

These methods may not eliminate type 2 diabetes symptoms; but it may help some people manage their diabetes and potentially lessen the amount of insulin they need. Still, preventing the symptoms from worsening due to continuing heavy metal toxicity may be possible. Firstly, remove the heavy metals from your environment and, secondly, try to remove them from your body.

  • Use a water filter that removes heavy metals from your water. Even if it fails to catch all traces of all metals, reducing your heavy metal intake to near zero will help a lot. Almost all of the studies that found a link between diabetes and heavy metal poisoning found the risk to exist at reasonably high levels. Considering all the litres of water that you consume when you cook and drink, this can make a big difference.

  • Buy organic food to avoid the metals used in pesticides. Since the soil is still contaminated from pesticides used on other farms, this will not cut the exposure to zero either, but every bit helps.

  • When you buy toys and household products, buy from reputable brands that have been tested for compliance with European rules. Most American and European brands should be safe, unless they make use of a new supplier, in which case they will probably recall the products and refund you.

  • Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertiliser in your own garden. Sieves and netting will keep pests away from your vegetable and herb garden, while natural fertilisers are probably better anyway because it allows worms to fertilise the plants as nature intended.

  • An iodine supplement can pull lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminium from your body tissue from where it can be excreted. If you do not eat sea vegetables, your body may well be short of iodine. The added advantage is its ability to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria and fungi. As mentioned earlier, this is not a diabetes cure. Medical science has not yet discovered a substance that can reverse insulin resistance. But it may prevent the ongoing metal toxicity and the further damage that it may cause.

  • Selenium is another useful supplement to take to help reduce heavy metals from your system. Together with its function as a heavy metal detoxer, it is also a strong antioxidant that can help your body battle the damage to the pancreatic cells responsible for insulin secretion.

  • Chlorella is a green alga that is also available in supplement form. It binds to heavy metals in the blood and digestive tract and steer them out of the body, usually via the bowels. Chlorella was originally tested in mine shafts, where it proved successful at cleaning heavy metals from the shafts after major mining operations. On those grounds, it certainly seems to be quite powerful.

These methods may not eliminate type 2 diabetes symptoms; but it may help some people manage their diabetes and potentially lessen the amount of insulin they need. Still, preventing the symptoms from worsening due to continuing heavy metal toxicity may be possible. Firstly, remove the heavy metals from your environment and, secondly, try to remove them from your body.

  • Use a water filter that removes heavy metals from your water. Even if it fails to catch all traces of all metals, reducing your heavy metal intake to near zero will help a lot. Almost all of the studies that found a link between diabetes and heavy metal poisoning found the risk to exist at reasonably high levels. Considering all the litres of water that you consume when you cook and drink, this can make a big difference.

  • Buy organic food to avoid the metals used in pesticides. Since the soil is still contaminated from pesticides used on other farms, this will not cut the exposure to zero either, but every bit helps.

  • When you buy toys and household products, buy from reputable brands that have been tested for compliance with European rules. Most American and European brands should be safe, unless they make use of a new supplier, in which case they will probably recall the products and refund you.

  • Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertiliser in your own garden. Sieves and netting will keep pests away from your vegetable and herb garden, while natural fertilisers are probably better anyway because it allows worms to fertilise the plants as nature intended.

  • An iodine supplement can pull lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminium from your body tissue from where it can be excreted. If you do not eat sea vegetables, your body may well be short of iodine. The added advantage is its ability to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria and fungi. As mentioned earlier, this is not a diabetes cure. Medical science has not yet discovered a substance that can reverse insulin resistance. But it may prevent the ongoing metal toxicity and the further damage that it may cause.

  • Selenium is another useful supplement to take to help reduce heavy metals from your system. Together with its function as a heavy metal detoxer, it is also a strong antioxidant that can help your body battle the damage to the pancreatic cells responsible for insulin secretion.

  • Chlorella is a green alga that is also available in supplement form. It binds to heavy metals in the blood and digestive tract and steer them out of the body, usually via the bowels. Chlorella was originally tested in mine shafts, where it proved successful at cleaning heavy metals from the shafts after major mining operations. On those grounds, it certainly seems to be quite powerful.

Reduce The Heavy Metal Burden Common in Diabetics

Type 2 diabetes is an unpleasant condition to live with and is worth avoiding at almost any cost. These strategies for avoiding and minimising the impact of heavy metals are relatively cost-effective and easy to implement.

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Sugar

Is Sugar Really So Bad For Us?

In the 21st century, residents of industrialised countries consume at least their entire body weight of sugar per year, with some of them consuming as much as twice their body weight in those 365 days.

Most calories we consume daily are sugars. Not only does this differ from previous centuries when we ate more protein, fat, and fibre, but unlike in previous centuries, precious little of our current sugar intake originates from complex sugar sources like fruit and whole grains that contain large percentages of healthy nutrients too.

Types of Sugar

Monosaccharides are simple sugars. These include glucose, dextrose, fructose, and galactose. Disaccharides are complex sugars. These include sucrose and lactose. Polysaccharides are also complex sugars, which include cellulose and starch.

With a few exceptions, the health of a sugar is not related to its complexity; they are all basically unhealthy in their pure form. White refined table sugar, for example, is not healthier than the sugar in fruit just because it is complex sucrose while the latter is simple fructose.

On the contrary, since the fructose in fruit is included in a unit that contains plenty of healthy nutrients, it is far healthier than a tablespoon of refined white sugar that is almost hundred percent pure sucrose.

As a result, when buying groceries, keep your eye out for words like sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, arabinose, ribose, xylose, deoxyribose, and lactose and avoid as many of them as you can.

The Mediating Role of Fibre

Most low-carb diets encourage their followers to give up fruit and vegetables like carrots, as these contain fructose.

A small South African study, on the contrary, found that people who ate vast quantities of fruit failed to put on weight. The explanation lies in the high amount of fibre that fruit contains in addition to the fructose.

If you drink a can of sweetened soda, the large sudden fructose dump demands that your body processes it immediately and quickly. If you eat an apple, your body has to tear through all the fibre before it can separate the fructose that needs to be processed. This takes time, and therefore releases the fructose gradually for slower and more comprehensive processing.

This does not mean you should duplicate the study and binge on fruit. You will see below why this can harm your liver. It does mean, however, that you can safely eat between two and three servings of fruit per day without worrying about your health.

Fructose Can Cause Liver Damage

A high consumption of fructose can cause liver damage. Most modern products, from fruit juice to soda to pasta to salad dressing, contain high-fructose corn syrup because it is much sweeter than sugar cane and thus much cheaper to produce.

Sugar cane, or table sugar, also contains fructose, but its fructose is bound to glucose in a way that other organs must help to break it down. Your body processes glucose through complex mechanisms that include numerous organs and hormones like the pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, insulin, cortisol, and so forth.

Fructose that is not properly bound to glucose, on the other hand, bypasses all these mechanisms and falls straight on the liver to convert into glucose before your body can use it as energy. This unnecessarily and dangerously overloads one of the body's main detoxification organs, which compromises its detoxifying functions and wears it out in the same way alcohol does.

Excessive Fructose Consumption produces Toxic Uric Acid

When the liver struggles to process vast quantities of fructose, it depletes its energy and produces uric acid as a by-product.

Even worse, when the cells throughout your body are fed with fructose instead of by the glucose that they expect and need for energy, they burn all their glucose and are then completely depleted of energy. This causes them to die, which also increases the level of uric acid in your body.

Uric acid has been found to contribute to gout, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance, which is one of the main symptoms of diabetes.

If that is not bad enough, it also causes chronic low-level inflammation that researchers argue contributes to most modern diseases like arthritis, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular disease.

Sugar Causes Obesity

If your body's cells do not need the glucose that is circulating in your bloodstream for energy, it will be converted into fat tissue and deposited around your hips and abdomen. For sake of its survival, your body has evolved to use or store energy, not to excrete it. This gives you two options: either exercise enough to burn all the sugar you eat, or eat less sugar so your body does not receive any more than it will burn for energy.

Fructose also facilitates weight gain due to its failure to stimulate insulin which, in turn, is meant to stimulate production of the hormone leptin, which suppresses hunger. If your diet is high in fructose, you will, therefore, remain hungry long after your body has had enough nutrients and energy.

Sugar Makes You Feel Tired

When you eat protein, fat, or fibre, your body must break it down bit by bit to separate the glucose. It, therefore, slowly releases glucose into the bloodstream from where it can be absorbed by all cells for energy.

When you eat clean sugar, your body sends all that glucose straight into your bloodstream and you experience a great energy spike. Since your body must keep blood glucose levels reasonably low, it immediately responds by secreting insulin to remove the glucose from your bloodstream as quickly as possible (to your hips and abdomen, as mentioned above). This sudden drop in glucose from your blood means that there is no more glucose available when your cells demand ready energy.

The only way to keep your blood glucose and energy supply constant is to eat fibre and protein-rich food that releases glucose gradually into your bloodstream. Sugar simply spikes it, drops it, and leaves you feeling drained.

Sugar Can Cause Diabetes

Insulin is the hormone that is meant to remove glucose from the blood. If your blood glucose levels are often extremely high due to an excess of sugar in your diet, your body will become resistant to the insulin, in the same way as a heroin addict becomes resistant to the heroin. As a result, your body will need ever larger amounts of insulin to keep your blood glucose level reasonably low.

This insulin resistance is the chief symptom of type 2 diabetes which, in turn, causes obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Sugar Can Cause Cardiovascular Disease

People who consume a lot of sugar are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease than those who do not.

If your blood sugar level often soars because of excessive sugar in your diet, and your body becomes so resistant to insulin that it can no longer keep your blood glucose at a reasonable level, the sugar that circulates unabsorbed in your blood stream starts to stick to the inner linings of your arteries. This increases your blood pressure, which is a known risk for cardiovascular disease.

A high-sugar diet may also stimulate the liver to dump more fats into the bloodstream, which increases cholesterol and thereby the risk of developing serious cardiovascular complications.

Sugar Can Impair Your Brain Function

Sugar causes something researchers call brain metabolic disorder. If you suffer from this disorder, your brain is incapable of using energy properly. By engaging certain molecules in the brain, sugar causes your brain to become insulin resistant, which ruins its ability to extract the available glucose which it needs to use as energy.

Moreover, it apparently inhibits the molecules that help to stimulate synaptic plasticity, which then slows down the speed at which nerves can communicate with each other. While this research is still preliminary, it does show that rats on high-sugar diets struggle to memorise mazes. To the extent that this can be generalised to humans, sugar may, thus, sabotage your ability to think and remember.

Ultimately Remove All Sugar

To really improve your health, or prevent developing some serious conditions, gradually remove most sugar from your diet. You will be surprised how easy it is to retrain your taste buds to appreciate the subtle tastes of unsweetened foods.

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