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4 Health Foods That Are Beneficial For Diabetes (The Second Is Widely Used)[Updated Feb/2023]

According to the International Diabetes Foundation, about 2 million people worldwide are currently living with the disease, and the incidence is rising sharply, reaching more than 8 million by 2030, affecting about 4 in 10 adults

In empirical medicine, what health foods can help diabetes? See the latest analysis in the text for details

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder, of which about 90% is type 2 diabetes, the cause of which is related to the relative lack of insulin, which means that although the body can make insulin, but cells are resistant to insulin, resulting in blood sugar can not be used smoothly, so it remains high.

Although diabetes is a chronic disease and is not immediately life-threatening, the many complications caused by high blood sugar have gradually become a huge burden on the medical system, which is impossible to ignore.

Related complications include: neuropathy, kidney disease, skin ulcers, stroke, angina and myocardial infarction, foot problems, sexual dysfunction (in men), miscarriage, depression, Alzheimer’s, hearing impairment, hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis, etc

What are the health foods that are scientifically proven to be beneficial to diabetes?

  1. Chromium

Chromium is an important trace element in the human body, can form chromodulin-containing regulator (chromodulin) protein, enhance insulin effect, is necessary to maintain the normal metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and according to the number of chromium ion binding, insulin receptor activity can differ several times, which shows its importance

In nature, chromium mainly comes in 2 forms, 3-valent chromium or 6-valent chromium, 3-valent chromium is a form with biological benefits, mainly found in whole grains, vegetables, nuts and other foods

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (including 28 diabetes-related randomized controlled trials) suggested that chromium supplementation (intervention period of 4 to 25 weeks, daily dose of 50 to 1000 μg) significantly reduced the following measures, including: fasting blood glucose (FPG), insulin (insulin), glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Note 1

In the subgroup analysis, the reductions in FPG, insulin, HbA1C, and HOMA-IR levels were most pronounced with long-term interventions (≥ 12 weeks).

In addition, there was no dose-dependent change in the above glycemic control indicators, and the glycemic control indexes decreased significantly in both groups at doses ≤ 200 (μg) and >200 (μg).

The mechanism behind it may be related to chromium’s ability to increase the number and binding effect of insulin cells, increase AMPK activity, inhibit acetyl-CoA carboxylase, and enhance glucose carrier protein (GLUT-4) trafficking.

*Conclusion: In patients with type 2 diabetes, chromium supplementation may have a positive effect on glycemic control

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient that the body synthesizes or obtains from the diet. In addition to regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism, it also plays an important role in a variety of metabolic pathways, directly or indirectly providing many functions that are essential for organisms.

The main biologically active form of vitamin D is cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), which is synthesized in the skin by 7-dehydrocholesterol under sunlight (UVB radiation). Other forms of vitamin D (mainly ergocalciferol or vitamin D7) can also be absorbed from a variety of foods, such as oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, fortified grains, and specific supplements such as cod liver oil.

Vitamin D deficiency (< 50 nmol/L) and insufficiency (50 – 75 nmol/L) have become a widespread health problem in recent decades.

A literature review and meta-analysis (71 observational studies) found that vitamin D status was significantly negatively correlated with blood glucose levels in diabetic and non-diabetic subjects, and that hypovitaminosis D increased the risk of hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes. Note 1

A meta-analysis (28 randomized controlled trials) suggests that vitamin D supplementation (average daily dose of 3500 IU for 6 months) improves glycaemic control (HbA1c and fasting blood glucose) and reduces insulin resistance in pre-diabetic or high-risk people with diabetes, although effects may vary by age, calcium intake, vitamin D deficiency, and serum 25(OH)D levels. Note 2

A literature review and meta-analysis (including 20 randomized controlled trials) pointed out that vitamin D supplementation significantly improved serum 25(OH)D levels and insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR) in patients with type 2 diabetes, especially in non-obese subjects, Middle Eastern ethnic groups, vitamin D deficiency, better baseline glycemic control, and patients taking large doses (daily dose of 2000 IU) in a short period of time. Note 3

*Conclusion: Vitamin D deficiency increases the incidence of type 2 diabetes, and in some conditions, additional supplementation can improve glycemic control in existing patients and reduce the incidence of disease in high-risk groups

  1. Probiotics

Probiotics generally refer to live microorganisms that have substantial health benefits for the human body, mainly colonized in the intestines, and participate in digestive function, immune regulation, nutrient manufacturing and other processes

Modern medicine has found that intestinal flora is the key to determining health, and if it is out of balance, it is often associated with a variety of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (28 randomized controlled trials, 1947 participants with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes) found that probiotics were more effective than placebo at reducing baseline fasting blood glucose in both the short and long term. Note 1

Subgroup analyses showed that probiotics were particularly effective in lowering fasting blood glucose: fasting blood glucose > 130 mg/dL and participants not receiving insulin were more pronounced.

In addition, probiotics also help lower serum cholesterol in the short and long term.

*Conclusion: For type 2 diabetes, oral probiotics may help with glycemic regulation, especially in patients with poor glycemic control and not receiving insulin therapy.

  1. Zinc

Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human metabolism (second most abundant in the body, after iron), catalyzes more than 100 enzymes, promotes protein folding, and helps regulate gene expression.

Zinc is found in a variety of foods such as beef, poultry, seafood, and grains. Patients with malnutrition, alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease, and malabsorption syndromes are at increased risk of zinc deficiency.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency are nonspecific and include growth retardation, diarrhoea, alopecia, glossitis, nail dystrophy, decreased immunity, and hypogonadism in men.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (32 randomized placebo-controlled trials involving 1700 participants in diabetes and high-risk diabetes groups) noted that participants supplemented with zinc supplementation had statistically significant reductions in fasting blood glucose, 2-hour postprandial blood glucose, fasting insulin, assessment of insulin resistance homeostasis models, glycated hemoglobin, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein concentrations. Note 1

In addition, subgroup analyses showed that the effect of fasting blood glucose lowering was most significant in patients with diabetes and the use of inorganic zinc supplements.

The mechanism behind this may be related to zinc can improve the interaction between insulin receptors, increase the rate of glucose processing and improve glucose tolerance

*Conclusion: Zinc supplementation may be of positive benefit in diabetes prevention or adjuvant therapy, but more large studies are needed to support this

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