Type 2 diabetes communicates one of two things about your body: either your pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not being absorbed by the cells. Insulin regulates blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in your blood. While this may seem academic, high blood sugar levels can have very real implications if left untreated.
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High blood sugar can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
It is therefore imperative to find ways of compensating for the poor insulin production to stave off the risk of serious complications.
The key to controlling blood sugar levels partly lies in the dietary decisions you make.
It is important to focus on your overall approach but evidence does suggest certain items are essential.
Supplementing with berberine – a bioactive compound that can be extracted from several different plants – has shown to be remarkably effective.
Blood sugar control: Berberine has been shown to rival metformin
“Evidence has shown that administering berberine consistently can be as effective at reducing blood glucose and HbA1c as one of the gold standard drugs currently used to manage diabetes, metformin,” explains Aaron Brown, research associate for the global business at Ultimate Performance, in an interview with the Express.co.uk.
HbA1c is your average blood glucose (sugar) levels for the last two to three months.
As Mr Brown reports, a study published in the journal Metabolism sought to compare the glycemic effects (the effect that food or meal has on blood sugar) of berberine to metformin over a three-month trial.
Metformin is a comms diabetes medication that helps the insulin you produce work better.
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Five hundred milligrams of berberine taken three times per day was compared to 500mg of metformin taken three times per day.
As Mr Brown reports, the results showed that after three months HbA1c actually dropped more in the berberine group than the metformin group (two percent and 1.5 percent respectively).
Fasting blood glucose (a test to determine how much glucose (sugar) is in a blood sample after an overnight fast) and fasting insulin were also most improved in the berberine group compared to the metformin group.
Berberine was also comparably effective in reducing triglycerides and total cholesterol in this study, notes Mr Brown.
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Triglycerides and cholesterol are substances that can raise your risk of heart disease.
There are several mechanisms thought to play a role in berberine’s blood sugar-lowering effect.
“Berberine increases insulin sensitivity to enhance nutrient sensitivity in general,” explains Mr Brown.
He adds: “Berberine increases uptake of glucose into the cells more efficiently, as well as reduces the excess production of glucose.”
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Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising – this is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
According to the NHS, symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:
- Peeing 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.
The health body advises that you 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 type 2 diabetes.
“The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better,” it adds.