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If you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes or have prediabetes, here are five natural remedies that you can start now to help regain control of your health
When your baseline blood sugar level is higher than normal, but you haven't hit the threshold for a diabetes diagnosis, you may have prediabetes, a condition that often has no symptoms but is still considered a serious disorder.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prediabetes is "a big deal" that puts you at risk for developing the more serious Type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.[i] Surprisingly, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 3 adults, approximately 88 million Americans, have prediabetes, but most of these individuals don't know that they have it.[ii] Risk factors for prediabetes are the same as Type 2 diabetes:
- Aged 45 and older
- Parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
- Physically active less than three times per week
- Experienced gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more[iii]
If you have received a diagnosis of prediabetes or suspect that you may have it, it's time to get serious about managing your health. Left unchecked, prediabetes can progress to Type 2 diabetes and a host of negative health implications, including increased risk of kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, limb amputation and more.[iv]
Prediabetes: A Lifestyle Disease
Prediabetes is a serious warning sign that it's time to make important lifestyle changes. Ignore the dangers and you may experience deteriorating quality of life and serious health consequences. The good news is prediabetes, and often Type 2 diabetes, may be preventable by making a few key alterations to your daily regimen.
Here are five such remedies for prediabetes that you can implement today that will steer you down a healthier, more vibrant path so you can get the most out of your days, and more days to enjoy.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is linked to many important health benefits, including supporting strong bones, muscles and nerves. It helps prime your immune system to fight off invasive bacteria and viruses.[v] Supplementing with high-quality vitamin D, or producing it naturally in your skin via sensible sun exposure, may also help prevent the development of diabetes if you are currently at risk.
Researchers in 2018 published results of a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials that assessed glycemic outcome measures for adults who were prediabetic, overweight or obese. Twenty-eight placebo-controlled trials representing 3,848 participants were included in the final analysis, which showed that vitamin D supplementation significantly improved glycemic measures and insulin sensitivity and may be useful as part of a preventive strategy for Type 2 diabetes.[vi]
A 2019 study evaluated the effects of vitamin D supplementation in patients with diabetes mellitus. The meta-analysis reviewed vitamin D's effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, among other biometrics affected by diabetes, in diagnosed patients across 37 studies.
Vitamin D levels were found to be significantly lower than the norm among diabetic patients, indicating a heightened need for supplementation. Boosting vitamin D levels led to better glycemic control and is suggested as an adjunct therapy along with other treatments.[vii]
The health benefits of physical activity are legendary and when compared to the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle, the choice to become more active is clear, especially if you are prediabetic.
Taking a 30-minute brisk walk, five times per week, meets the Department of Health and Human Services' recommended level of physical activity for adults (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week).[viii] By integrating this level of movement into your routine, you may reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 58%.[ix]
Research into associations between physical activity and sedentary behavior on cardio-metabolic biomarkers in patients with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes found that shifting just 19 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to sedentary behavior caused a 17% increase in the amount of fat in the gut region of participants. Reducing physical activity also increased insulin resistance by as much as 39% and lowered HDL or "good" cholesterol by up to 3.3%.[x]
Interestingly, these same negative health effects were observed when participants lowered the intensity of their exercise from moderate-to-vigorous to light intensity,[xi] demonstrating that level of exertion when exercising is an important factor in receiving optimal health benefits.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an antioxidant produced within your body that generates energy to grow and maintain cells.[xii] Levels of CoQ10 decrease as you age, making conscious intake of this enzyme increasingly important. Found in meat, fish and nuts in scant quantities, therapeutic levels of CoQ10 can be achieved via a wide array of dietary supplements.
Studied for its usefulness in treating migraines, heart disease, dementia and other inflammatory conditions, CoQ10 has also been explored as a therapy to prevent Type 2 diabetes. A 2018 study examined whether administration of CoQ10 would improve insulin resistance in patients with prediabetes.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial studied 80 adults with impaired glucose tolerance, randomizing them into a supplement group or placebo group. After eight weeks of treatment, the CoQ10 group exhibited a significant decrease in insulin resistance, along with lowered levels of toxic free radicals.[xiii]
Curcumin is one of the most heavily researched of all healing herbs. Curcumin extract was explored as a preventative for Type 2 diabetes in a study published in the journal Diabetes Care. Researchers randomized all subjects to curcumin or placebo capsules for nine months. An array of biomarkers indicating progression toward Type 2 diabetes were measured at baseline and after the study period.
After nine months of treatment, 16.4% of subjects in the placebo group progressed into Type 2 diabetes, whereas no one in the curcumin group received a diabetes diagnosis. In addition, curcumin-treated subjects showed better overall functioning of beta cells, a type of cell found in the pancreas that synthesizes and secretes insulin.[xiv]
Now that modern science has confirmed yoga's many health benefits, this ancient science is beginning to get the respect it deserves. Researched for usefulness in hundreds of diseases, yoga may be a promising treatment for prevention of prediabetes.
A 2019 study explored yoga as an intervention in prediabetic adult women. The study characterized liver abnormalities, biochemical changes and stress levels after three months of regular yoga practice.
Researchers found that glycosylated hemoglobin and glucose levels were significantly reduced in prediabetic women practicing yoga compared to those in the control (non-practicing) group. Other observed benefits of yoga practice were decreased stress levels and no escalation of fatty liver condition.[xvi]
[i] CDC.gov, Diabetes, The Surprising Truth About Diabetes, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/truth-about-prediabetes.html
[ii] CDC.gov, Diabetes, The Surprising Truth About Diabetes, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/truth-about-prediabetes.html
[iii] CDC.gov, Diabetes, The Surprising Truth About Diabetes, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/truth-about-prediabetes.html
[iv] CDC.gov, Diabetes, The Surprising Truth About Diabetes, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/truth-about-prediabetes.html
[v] NIH, Office of Dietary Supplements, Vitamin D, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/
[vi] Naghmeh Mirhosseini, Hassanali Vatanparast, Mohsen Mazidi, Samantha M Kimball. Vitamin D Supplementation, Glycemic Control, and Insulin Resistance in Prediabetics: A Meta-Analysis. J Endocr Soc. 2018 Jul 1 ;2(7):687-709. Epub 2018 May 25. PMID: 29951596
[vii] Reza Sahebi, Majid Rezayi, Maryam Emadzadeh, Maryam Salehi, Maryam Tayefi, Seyed Mostafa Parizadeh, Negin Behboodi, Azam Rastgar-Moghadam, Jasmin Kharazmi Khorassani, Sara Kharazmi Khorassani, Akbar Mohammadi, Gordon A Ferns, Majid Ghayour Mobarhan. The effects of vitamin D supplementation on indices of glycemic control in Iranian diabetics: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb ;34:294-304. Epub 2018 Dec 19. PMID: 30712741
[viii] CDC.gov, Physical Activity, Physical Activity Basics, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
[ix] Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Fernhall B, et al. Exercise and type 2 diabetes: the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(12):e147-e167. doi: 10.2337/dc10-9990
[x] Jenny Rossen, Philip von Rosen, Unn-Britt Johansson, Kerstin Brismar, Maria Hagströmer. Associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with cardiometabolic biomarkers in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: A compositional data analysis. Phys Sportsmed. 2019 Oct 30. Epub 2019 Oct 30. PMID: 31663410
[xi] Jenny Rossen, Philip von Rosen, Unn-Britt Johansson, Kerstin Brismar, Maria Hagströmer. Associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with cardiometabolic biomarkers in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: A compositional data analysis. Phys Sportsmed. 2019 Oct 30. Epub 2019 Oct 30. PMID: 31663410
[xii] Mayo Clinic, Drugs & Supplements, Coenzyme Q10, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-coenzyme-q10/art-20362602
[xiii] Ja-Young Yoo, Keun-Sang Yum. Effect of Coenzyme Qon Insulin Resistance in Korean Patients with Prediabetes: A Pilot Single-Center, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Biomed Res Int. 2018 ;2018:1613247. Epub 2018 Jul 29. PMID: 30151373
[xiv] Somlak Chuengsamarn, Suthee Rattanamongkolgul, Rataya Luechapudiporn, Chada Phisalaphong, Siwanon Jirawatnotai. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012 Nov ;35(11):2121-7. Epub 2012 Jul 6. PMID: 22773702
[xv] George Naijil, T R Anju, S Jayanarayanan, C S Paulose. Curcumin pretreatment mediates antidiabetogenesis via functional regulation of adrenergic receptor subtypes in the pancreas of multiple low-dose streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Nutr Res. 2015 Sep ;35(9):823-33. Epub 2015 Jul 2. PMID: 26255758
[xvi] Amit Kumar Singh, Navneet Kaur, Sushant Kaushal, Rahul Tyagi, Deepali Mathur, Madhava Sai Sivapuram, Kashinath Metri, Sridhar Bammidi, Vivek Podder, Shweta Modgil, Radhika Khosla, Kiran Sharma, Abhilasha Anand, Neeru Malik, VidhyaSagar Boroiah, Raghuram Nagarathna, Hongasandra R Nagendra, Akshay Anand. Partitioning of radiological, stress and biochemical changes in pre-diabetic women subjected to Diabetic Yoga Protocol. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Jul - Aug;13(4):2705-2713. Epub 2019 Jul 9. PMID: 31405697