Fenugreek and Diabetes
Fenugreek is an aromatic plant that has many uses, both culinary – fenugreek is a key ingredient of curries and other Indian recipes – and medicinal.
The plant, which is widely grown in South Asia, North Africa and parts of the Mediterranea, has small round leaves and also produces long pods that contain distinctive bitter-tasting seeds.
The leaves are either sold as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens) commonly known as methi, or as an herb (dried leaves), while the seeds are used both whole and in powdered form as a spice.
As well as being a popular cooking ingredient, fenugreek has a number of health benefits and is used in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.
How does it affect diabetes?
Fenugreek seeds (trigonella foenum graecum) are high in soluble fibre, which helps lower blood sugar by slowing down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates This suggests they may be effective in treating people with diabetes.
Multiple studies have been carried out to investigate the potential anti-diabetic benefits of fenugreek.
Of these, several clinical trials showed that fenugreek seeds can improve most metabolic symptoms associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in humans by lowering blood glucose levels and improving glucose tolerance
In one study, researchers in India found that adding 100 grams of defatted fenugreek seed powder to the daily diet of patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes significantly reduced their fasting blood glucose levels , improved glucose tolerance and also lowered total cholesterol , LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides.
In another controlled trial, incorporating 15 grams of powdered fenugreek seed into a meal eaten by people with type 2 diabetes reduced the rise in post-meal blood glucose, while a separate study found that taking 2.5 grams of fenugreek twice a day for three months lowered blood sugar levels in people with mild, but not severe, type 2 diabetes.
What other health benefits does it have?
Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.
For centuries they have been (and are still) used by nursing mothers to help stimulate the production of breast milk during pregnancy and following childbirth. Due to their powerful antiviral properties, they are also commonly used as an herbal remedy for colds and sore throats.
In addition, researchers believe fenugreek seeds may be effective in the treatment of arthritis, high cholesterol, skin problems (wounds, rashes and boils), bronchitis, abscesses, hair loss, constipation , upset stomach, kidney ailments, heartbur, male impotence and other types of sexual dysfunction.
Where can I buy it?
Fenugreek leaves (methi) and seeds can be found in most Asian food stores, while herbal supplements containing fenugreek seed powder and/or fenugreek seed extract in capsule form are available through most health food companies.
Before using fenugreek to treat your diabetes, consult your GP and diabetes healthcare team to ensure it is safe. As with other blood sugar-reducing herbs, there is the risk that fenugreek may cause your blood sugars to go too low ( hypoglycemia ) when taken alongside prescribed diabetes drugs. As a result, the dose of your anti-diabetic medication might need to be changed.
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Used in the NHS.
Type 2 diabetes: The three best seeds to lower blood sugar
TYPE 2 diabetes can seem like a daunting diagnosis because it requires you to overhaul aspects of your lifestyle to ward off the threat posed by rising blood sugar levels. Luckily, the condition is easily controlled by making simple dietary tweaks and certain snacks have been shown to lower blood sugar, including these three seeds.
Type 2 diabetes: Dr Mosley gives his dietary tips
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin. The primary threat posed by impaired insulin production is rising blood sugar levels, which, if left untreated, can hike the risk of life-threatening complications such as heart disease. Fortunately, upping your intake of certain foods and shunning others can keep the threat of rising blood sugar levels at bay.
Certain seeds, for example, have been shown to lower blood sugar and can be enjoyed as a simple snack or sprinkled on your meals.
Here are three seeds proven to lower blood sugar levels:
As a general rule, foods that rank low on the glycemic index are a tried-and-tested way to keep blood sugar levels in check.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates, showing how quickly each food affects your blood sugar level when that food is eaten on its own.
Carbohydrate foods with a high GI rating are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose whereas foods with a low GI are broken down more gradually, reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes.
Type 2 diabetes: Flax seeds, which rank low on the GI index, have been shown to lower blood sugar (Image: Getty Images )
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Due to their high fibre content, flax seeds are considered a low-glycemic food and research attributes their blood sugar-lowering benefits to their soluble fibre content, which slow food digestion and decrease the absorption of certain nutrients like sugar.
One four-week study in 29 people with type 2 diabetes found that consuming 10 grams of flaxseed powder per day reduced fasting blood sugar by 19.7 percent compared with the control group.
Echoing the findings, in a three-month study in 120 people with type 2 diabetes, those who consumed five grams of flaxseed gum daily with their food experienced a fasting blood sugar reduction of about 12 percent, compared with a control group.
Studies have also linked sunflower seed consumption to blood sugar reduction, suggesting that people eat one ounce (30 grams) of sunflower seeds daily as part of a healthy diet may reduce fasting blood sugar by about 10 percent within six months, compared to a healthy diet alone.
Findings suggest that the blood-sugar-lowering benefits are derived from plant compound found in the seeds called chlorogenic acid.
To further enhance the blood-sugar lowering effect, studies also suggest that adding sunflower seeds to foods like bread may help decrease carbs’ effect on your blood sugar.
The seeds’ protein and fat slow the rate at which your stomach empties, allowing a more gradual release of sugar from carbs.
Several studies have found that supplementing with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes: The magnesium content in pumpkin seeds has been shown to lower blood sugar (Image: Getty Images )
The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.
An observational study in over 127,000 people found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and a 34 percent lower risk in women.
How does Magnesium affect blood sugar levels?
As Holland and Barrett explain: “Magnesium plays an important role in helping your body convert glucose from your food into fuel.
“If you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, your cells can become less effective at using insulin.”
Type 2 diabetes: Common symptoms (Image: Getty Images)
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
According to the NHS, many people have type 2 diabetes without realising because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
- 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
You should speak to your 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, advises the health body.
It added: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems.”TYPE 2 diabetes can seem like a daunting diagnosis because it requires you to overhaul aspects of your lifestyle to ward off the threat posed by rising blood sugar levels. Luckily, the condition is easily controlled by making simple dietary tweaks and certain snacks have been shown to lower blood sugar, including these three seeds. ]]>