Over 100 million Americans either suffer from diabetes or are in the beginning stages of developing diabetes. Diabetes is an illness that causes disruption in glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Many diabetics suffer from a lack of insulin that causes heightened glucose levels in the blood. Health professionals have been treating the disease with conventional methods, such as insulin shots, for decades, but now there is emerging research that shows that the spice turmeric—from the root of the turmeric plant—may help treat and prevent diabetes. Some researchers are even calling turmeric an anti-diabetic plant.
The effective ingredient in turmeric that is used for treating diabetes is curcumin. Officially, the substance is called Curcuma Longa, which is bright yellow-orange and is typically consumed as a grounded up powder, such as in curry. Curcumin is in the ginger family and is used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Some ailments curcumin helps to treat include pain relief, inflammation and oxidant effects, liver disease and digestion problems. If you choose to take curcumin, you more than likely have to consume it in the form of turmeric. Here are ways turmeric may help with your diabetes.
Management of Blood Sugar Levels
Turmeric may help manage high glucose levels in your blood. The spice was shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. Clinical trials performed on animals reported these results suggesting that turmeric behaves as an anti-hyperglycemic agent. Hyperglycemia simply refers to high blood sugar and has several symptoms ranging from headaches, frequent urination and fatigue to nausea, weakness, and coma. Turmeric lowers blood sugar levels via several methods. One method is to stimulate the creation of insulin. Another method is to improve the activity and performance of pancreatic cells, called beta cells. This is accomplished by repairing and regenerating these beta cells. The spice also reduces glucose creation in the liver.
Autoimmune complications associated with type 1 diabetes may also cause high sugar levels in your blood. Autoimmune diabetes occurs when your body attacks your own pancreatic cells and kills them. The pancreas is the main producer of insulin, the substance used by the body to absorb sugar in the blood. Therefore, a destroyed pancreas leads to higher blood sugar levels due to little or no insulin being produced and released to the bloodstream. Furthermore, when accompanied by a bone marrow transplant, the curcumin in turmeric can act to regenerate the cells of a damaged pancreas and increase insulin production in type 1 diabetes patients.
Promotion of Weight Loss and Reversal of Diabetes
The health of type 2 diabetes patients greatly depends on lifestyle and diet changes. Adding turmeric to your diet may delay the onset or development of diabetes. One reason for this is because the curcumin component in turmeric helps to prevent fatty deposits in the blood vessels of your body. The substance also curtails the growth of fatty tissue in your organs. Adding turmeric to your diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid the complications of diabetes when the disease is accompanied by obesity. Also, turmeric could prevent obesity-induced diabetes.
On that same note, turmeric may also prevent prediabetes. Prediabetes also called impaired glucose tolerance, is stage 1 diabetes where a patient has higher than normal glucose levels but does not have a high enough glucose count to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Patients with prediabetes who took turmeric for nine or more months were less likely to progress to the next stage of diabetes—diagnosis. These patients also showed improved pancreatic activity in beta cells; beta cells are the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The curcumin in turmeric also acts on certain receptor cells in the pancreas that are adrenergic and that help to regulate the release of insulin. Additionally, Turmeric helps to protect pancreatic cells from damage caused by oxidative agents. If you have prediabetes, consult your doctor about reducing your risk by trying turmeric for diabetes.
Reduction of the Effects of Diabetic Complications
Common complications associated with diabetes include nerve damage, diabetic cataracts that may lead to blindness, kidney disease, liver disorders and even cognitive problems. Studies have shown that diabetic patients who took turmeric over a long period of time showed fewer symptoms of these complications, particularly liver disorders like fatty liver disease. Consumption of curcumin in turmeric has also been shown to improve digestion and fight diabetic vascular disease. The main properties of turmeric, or the curcumin in the turmeric, that work to improve these conditions caused by diabetic complications are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant in nature.
Other diabetic complications turmeric helps to improve are diabetic retinopathy, microangiopathy and diabetic gastroparesis. Retinopathy is a diabetic complication that is characterized by damage in the blood vessels of the retina—the area of the eye consisting of light-sensitive tissue. Symptoms of retinopathy include blurred vision, fluctuating vision and impaired color vision, and the disease can range from mild eye problems to full blindness. Microangiopathy is also called microvascular disease; it is a disease of small blood vessels. Microangiopathy is characterized by the thickening and weakening of small blood vessels that causes them to leak protein or even bleed. In diabetics, microangiopathy may also occur in the eye. Diabetic grastroparesis means that diabetic patients experience a delay of the stomach emptying its contents. This complication is caused by damage to the vagus nerve caused by high glucose levels in the blood. Curcumin in turmeric helps to reduce the effects of these health complications associated with diabetes. Turmeric also promotes healthy bones by decreasing the loss of bone minerals in the body.
Lowering of Insulin Resistance and Help With Inflammation
Insulin resistance is a major cause of the onset of type 2 diabetes. When there is insulin resistance in your body, it causes the cells in your liver and muscles to not respond well to the insulin in your blood that absorbs excess glucose. This condition eventually causes abnormally high levels of blood glucose and may damage the pancreas which is where insulin is produced. This lowers insulin levels in the blood and causes type 2 diabetes. Turmeric gives a helping hand to stimulate the absorption of glucose by the body. The substance accomplishes this by improving the function of cells in the pancreas which then leads to improved production and secretion of insulin.
Turmeric also lowers insulin resistance by helping curtail inflammation in the body. Type 1 diabetes causes the destruction of cells in the pancreas which then causes prolonged inflammation. Some of the inflammation is caused by the build-up of cytosine that impairs the functioning of insulin in the blood causing insulin resistance. Cytosine is a group of small proteins that play a major role in affecting the behavior of the cells around them by controlling cell signals; some cytosines include interferon, interleukin and growth factors. The curcumin in turmeric inhibits the signals sent by cytosine cells that cause inflammation, thus reducing insulin resistance.
Treatment and Prevention of Heart Disease
Endothelial dysfunction is a common heart problem among people with diabetes. The term ‘endothelial’ refers to the endothelium. The endothelium is the thin membrane lining that is located inside of the heart as well as blood vessels. The cells of the endothelium release chemicals that play a role in controlling the relaxation and contraction of vascular tissue; they also control enzymes that help blood clot, affect immune functioning and platelet adhesion. Endothelial dysfunction can cause a host of cardiovascular problems and diseases. Turmeric works to lower cholesterol levels in your body which supports the health of the endothelial lining of the heart and blood vessels. Turmeric also reduces inflammation in these areas.
High glucose in the blood increases the risk for heart disease, because high blood sugar levels lead to the oxidization—or destruction—of lipids in cell membranes that damages cells and sometimes even the DNA in the nuclei of cells. High glucose levels also cause inflammation and may damage arteries by increasing fatty deposits, called atheroma. Atheroma is characterized by the degeneration of the walls of arterial blood vessels. This condition leads to the restriction of blood circulation and a higher risk of thrombosis. The fatty deposits, along with scar tissue, that builds up in arteries can lead to atherosclerosis or even a heart attack. The condition is also linked with high blood pressure. Turmeric scavenges off the oxidizing agents that cause atheroma.
Support for the Health of Vital Organs
There are heptoprotective properties of turmeric that may increase the health of your liver. Turmeric protects from oxidative agents that cause damage to your liver’s functioning. Being diabetic increases your risk of building up non-alcoholic fatty deposits that cause fatty liver disease. Turmeric decreases the oxidative agents that cause these fatty deposits and also increases the levels of enzymes that act as anti-oxidants that help to neutralize toxic substances that are the byproducts of metabolism. Turmeric also decreases triglycerides in the body and balances cholesterol levels.
Turmeric also protects your kidneys. Impaired kidney function caused by diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy is the cause of longterm kidney disease and has five stages. The first stage is characterized by kidney damage but also normal kidney function. The second stage features kidney damage that causes the loss of kidney functioning. The third stage features mild to severe loss of the function of the kidneys. Stage four is characterized by a sever loss of kidney functioning. Stage five is full kidney failure and is called end-stage renal disease or ESRD. Studies show that about 500mg of curcumin everyday could stop the progression of diabetically induced kidney disease.
Improvement of the Healing of Tissue and Immune Response
Diabetic patients sometimes experience problems with slow healing of wounds. The slow healing tissue is a result from oxidative stress on different organs in your body. This stress causes prolonged inflammation of these tissues. For this ailment, turmeric can be used topically to help heal woulds faster. This is because turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and it helps with swelling.
Turmeric may also help improve the immune response of type 1 diabetic patients. People with type 1 diabetes may have over-active immune systems that cause health problems. Turmeric may lower destructive immune responses of the body that cause damage to pancreatic cells. The spice may also work to boost the effectiveness of immunomodulatory medications that are traditionally prescribed for type 1 diabetic immune response problems.
Other Power Foods to Take With Turmeric
Now that you know about some of the important health benefits of taking turmeric for diabetes, you should consider trying turmeric with other anti-diabetic foods. Here are a few power foods that you can couple with turmeric to help treat your diabetes.
The piperine in black pepper and the curcumin in turmeric may act together to combat damage done to blood vessels caused by diabetes. Research shows that oil taken from black pepper corns helps with high blood pressure and may prevent type 2 diabetes. The antioxidants in black pepper also helps to keep blood sugar levels low.
Consumption of honey may help to reduce cholesterol levels. Honey also helps with controlling body weight and promotes the health of lipids in blood cells. Honey also works well to treat diabetic wounds topically, and it also helps to stimulate the secretion of insulin in the pancreas which may lower blood glucose levels. There are many benefits of taking honey for diabetics, especially when paired with turmeric; however, be careful not to consume too much honey at once. Eating a lot of honey may cause spikes in blood sugar levels, so be sure to use this food in moderation, or ask your doctor.
Ginger powder helps to control blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. The plant also has certain properties that inhibit hepatic phosphorylase—an enzyme in the body that acts to disassemble molecules that store glucose. Ginger may also prevent heart complications that are associated with diabetes. Just keep in mind that ginger has a blood thinning effect, so the root should not be taken in conjunction with blood thinning medications.
Cinnamon is another unit-diabetic spice. Cinnamon may lower blood sugar levels by over 20 percent in diabetics. This is because the cinnamaldehyde found in cinnamon acts to lower glucose in the blood. The spice may also boost the effects of insulin in your body, and it may also work to lower cholesterol. Some research shows that cinnamon may act to lower triglycerides in the body that result from a high-fat diet. There are many great benefits of using cinnamon with turmeric to help with your diabetes; nevertheless, if you have liver problems, you should ask your physician before using cinnamon as a part of your regimen.
Fun Ways to Take Turmeric
There are many options to take turmeric for your diabetes, and some methods are fun to implement. For instance, turmeric smoothies and juices allow your to be creative with what goes into your recipe. Smoothies or juices also allow you to capture the freshness of the turmeric root. Turmeric tea is also a good option, and you can add lemon, lime, honey or ginger. Another tasty option is to make turmeric curry or stir-fry. Consult with your doctor, and consider taking turmeric for diabetes today.