Type 2 diabetes, like many health conditions, can be life-threatening if neglected over a long period of time. The threat comes in the form of high blood sugar levels, a type of sugar you absorb into your bloodstream by eating food. When your body is functioning properly, your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which regulates the amount of blood sugar entering your bloodstream.
- Type 2 diabetes: A spice to lower blood sugar
If you have diabetes, however, your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin to regulate this blood sugar.
High blood sugar decreases the elasticity of your blood vessels, causing them to narrow.
Narrowed blood vessels raise your risk of developing heart disease, which can be life-threatening, so it is imperative to keep blood sugar levels in check.
To keep on top of your condition, you must eat certain foods and shun others.
Research has singled out specific items for their blood-sugar lowering benefits.
One such item is milk thistle, a herbal remedy derived from the milk thistle plant, also known as Silybum marianum.
It’s been discovered that one of the compounds in milk thistle may work similarly to some diabetic medications by helping improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar.
A recent review and analysis found that people routinely taking silymarin (the active ingredient in milk thistle) experienced a significant reduction in their fasting blood sugar levels and HbA1c, a measure of blood sugar control.
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Fasting blood sugar is a test to determine how much glucose (sugar) is in a blood sample after an overnight fast.
General dietary tips to lower blood sugar
As a hard and fast rule, restricting your carb intake will help to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
This is because carbohydrate is broken down into glucose relatively quickly and therefore has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than either fat or protein.
As Diabetes.co.uk explains, carbohydrate is found, to varying degrees in a wide variety of food, notably in starchy foods such as rice, pasta and flour (therefore including pastry, bread and other dough based foods).
- Type 2 diabetes: Drink plenty of this to lower blood sugar
Following the glycemic index (GI) can help you to identify the worst offenders.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.
Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, low GI foods (55 or less) include:
- 100 percent stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread.
- Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli.
- Pasta, converted rice, barley, bulgar.
- Sweet potato, corn, yam, lima/butter beans, peas, legumes and lentils.
- Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots.
Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it
As the NHS explains, many people have type 2 diabetes without realising.
This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
If symptoms do appear, you may experience:
- Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
When should I see a GP?
The NHS says to see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting it.
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