Skip to Main Content

How to lower your blood sugar without medication

General health, Type 2 diabetes

How to lower your blood sugar without medication

All of the research, one comprehensive guide. 

Learning how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels is an important step towards managing type 2 diabetes and, for those with pre-diabetes, possibly even preventing it. 

Generally speaking, there are two ways to control your blood sugar: medications and lifestyle changes. 

This article will focus on the latter, detailing several lifestyle changes that have been shown to help people with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels. 

If you’re interested in learning about various medications that help to regulate blood sugar, contact your healthcare provider.

How are blood sugar levels regulated?

Sugars are among the body’s most important fuel sources, helping to provide energy to our brain cells, heart cells, and nearly every other cell in the body. 

This is why we’re programmed to eat it. 

But like most things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. 

Excess sugar in the blood can lead to numerous health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. High blood sugar levels can also damage body tissues, especially eyes, kidneys and nerves.

By the same token, too little sugar in the bloodstream can result in a dangerous energy shortage. For this reason, the human body has evolved an elaborate system for sensing and controlling blood sugar levels. 

It’s natural for your blood sugar levels to vary throughout the day. 

Shortly after eating a meal, your body extracts sugar from the food you just ate and dumps it into the bloodstream. There it courses through your blood vessels and is distributed to cells that need energy or is stored in muscle or the liver for use at a later time.

At the same time, a hormone known as insulin is released into the bloodstream. Insulin opens the cells’ gates to allow glucose in for use and storage.1

This means that in the few hours after eating a meal, your blood sugar levels will spike. But, as insulin levels increase in the blood over time, sugar levels will decrease as the body’s cells remove the sugar from the blood for immediate use or storage1

Type 2 diabetes develops when this sugar-regulating system goes awry, leading to chronically high levels of blood sugar2. Fortunately, there are ways we can help our bodies keep sugar levels in check.

 

Pendulum: Lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood sugar 

Lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood sugar

 

Mixing aerobic and strength training into your weekly routine

Put simply, the human body needs fuel to operate. 

Nowhere is this more obvious to us than when we exercise. 

The harder your body works, the more energy-depleted you may feel. And for good reason too: 

Exercise forces your muscles to burn through the body’s energy, beginning with glucose from the bloodstream followed by the use of the stored reserves. Following the workout, the muscles continue to draw in glucose from the bloodstream to refill their energy storehouse. 

In this way, exercise may help lower your average blood sugar levels3.  

 

How does exercise lower blood sugar?

Cells that need energy can take sugar out of the bloodstream for immediate use, or they can take the sugar and save it for a time when they may need energy fast. 

The cells in your liver and your muscles are particularly good at hoarding sugars like this1.

When you exercise, you put a high energy demand on your muscle cells by asking them to flex repeatedly and engage against heavy weights. 

The amount of energy they burn is proportional to the intensity of the exercise. To meet this need, they pull from their stockpiles and make themselves more sensitive to insulin which then helps them to quickly grab large amounts of sugar from the bloodstream. 

The liver will also contribute to the effort by pumping sugar into the bloodstream from its reserves. If the body’s sugar levels decrease past a certain threshold, it will then turn to other high energy molecules, including various types of fat1,2,3

After an exercise is done and the muscle cells have depleted their sugar reserves, they’ll restart the process of stockpiling, which means pulling sugar out from the blood. 


What type of exercise is best?

Evidence collected from numerous studies suggests that professionally guided workouts that include 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise spread out across at least three days a week can lead to a decrease in blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. 

This decrease is temporary, though, which means that if you stop exercising for a period of time, your blood sugar levels may return to an elevated state3

Aerobic exercise is any type of movement that engages large muscle groups and causes your heart rate to increase for an extended period of time, such as endurance running. 

Whether it’s running long distances or going for a brisk walk, aerobic exercise is an effective way to lower blood sugar levels.

However, the magnitude of the effect can vary greatly depending on a person’s body mass, typical workout routine, and many other factors. (Leaner people who regularly undergo aerobic training may not see a significant change in blood sugar levels.3)

Similarly, strength-building (or resistance) exercises that include short bouts of intense exertion and muscle fatigue have been shown to positively affect blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Some reports suggest that incorporating resistance exercises into a workout routine two to three times a week (on non-consecutive days) is likely to help lower blood sugar levels. 

Ideally, these workouts would include 5-10 exercises that involve muscles in the upper body, lower body, and core, with 10-15 repetitions to near fatigue in each exercise3

Putting it together, people with type 2 diabetes should consider working with their health care providers to develop an exercise routine that involves a mixture of resistance training and aerobic exercises. 

It’s important to include healthcare professionals because several factors (such as other health conditions) need to be considered when determining which workout routine is right for you.

 

Counting carbs and low carb diets can help lower blood sugar levels

Diets that incorporate carbohydrate (carb) counting may also be an effective way to lower blood sugar levels, but it requires an understanding of what carbs are, what the glycemic (glucose) load is, and a change in the way we think about carbs in our food.


What are carbs?

Carbs are molecules containing a series of connected sugar molecules. And, while it’s common to talk about carbs in a general sense, it’s important to know that different types of carbs can have very different effects on your blood sugar levels. 

There are three types of carbohydrates—sugar, starch, and fiber—which exhibit a range of effects on your blood sugar levels. 

For example, sugar will enter the bloodstream quickly and results in a rapid increase in your blood sugar levels. Fiber, on the other hand, is difficult to digest and does not increase blood sugar levels. 

It’s important then to consider the types of carbs that are in various foods. 

Carbohydrates can be found in many different foods, such as:

  • Grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley
  • Grain-based foods like bread, cereal, pasta, and crackers
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn
  • Fruit and juice
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Dried beans and soy products like veggie burgers
  • Sweets and snack foods like sodas, cakes, cookies, candy, chips

But some foods are more sugar packed than others.

Research shows that diets high in certain types of carbohydrates like sugar and starchy foods—such as rice, potatoes, and pasta—can lead to chronically higher blood sugar levels. 

Cauliflower rice, brown rice, cold potatoes, and whole-grain or lentil pasta, on the other hand, have a much lower impact on your blood sugars and may be good alternatives when trying to keep your blood sugar in check.


What is the glycemic load?

Diets that incorporate counting carbs typically involve designing meals with a special focus on the type and quantity of carbohydrates within a specific portion of food. 

The goal of these diets is to limit the height of blood sugar spikes by selecting types and quantities of foods that have a lower glycemic load.

The glycemic load is a measurement that considers how many carbohydrates are in a portion of food and how that type of carbohydrate is likely to affect blood sugar levels (also known as the food’s glycemic index). 

Some foods, such as watermelon, have a high glycemic index because they contain lots of sugar which can rapidly increase your blood sugar. However, typical servings of watermelon are not likely to cause a dramatic blood sugar spike. That’s because it has a low glycemic load—meaning the type of carbohydrate in watermelon (sugar) can rapidly increase your blood sugar, but the actual amount of sugar delivered in a serving of watermelon is quite low.


Counting carbs

Counting carbs can be an effective way to control your blood sugar. 

Carbs are an important and necessary part of a healthy diet. You shouldn’t avoid carbs completely, you just need to consider the type of carbs in your food and find a balance. 

If you’re the type of person who likes to count macronutrients and label read, or if you need to assess how much insulin to give yourself based on the number of carbohydrates, counting carbs is a good idea for you. A registered dietitian can make a complete nutrition assessment and calculate how many grams of carbohydrates you should have at each meal and snack that is optimized for your health. 

In general, limiting the amount of highly processed sugar in your meal is a good start, partly because sugars can directly increase your blood sugar and because meals with a high sugar content tend to be less filling compared to high fiber and protein meals 4,5,6

You can also account for carbs with some visual methods. Pendulum Dietitian Kristin Neusel, a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes education, suggests using the “plate method, where half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter should be lean protein, and a quarter should be whole grains.”

Reducing stress

Stress can have a major influence on your short- and long-term health. 

When we are stressed, our bodies react by releasing hormones that prepare us for dangers like physical conflict, famine, and infection. 

In all of these cases, the body knows that it will need energy to deal with whatever has triggered the stress response. To get that energy, hormones are released that increase blood sugar levels. 

The physiological relationship between chronic stress and blood sugar levels is not well defined, likely because there are many factors at play. 

When a person is stressed over long periods of time, their behavior and diet may change—each of which can also affect blood sugar levels. 

But there is ample research that shows a correlation between chronic stress and blood sugar levels exists. For example, it’s been shown that while stress levels may not predict blood sugar levels, decreasing chronic stress tends to also decrease blood sugar levels7,8,9,10,11,12

One mechanism by which chronic stress may increase blood sugar levels is through inflammation. 

Hormones released in response to stress can activate the immune system and create low levels of inflammation throughout the body. 

This can be beneficial if an infection has occurred because inflammation enables certain immune cells to attack bacteria or other molecules that may harm us. 

Importantly, immune cells rely on sugar as an energy source when going on the hunt for potentially harmful invaders. 

For this reason, the body will also increase blood sugar levels in response to inflammation, possibly in anticipation of what immune cells will need8,9,10

Inflammation is also a feature in short-term (acute) stress. The link between blood sugar levels and acute stress is better understood13.

In response to injury or emotionally traumatic events, the human body activates the fight-or-flight response which is characterized by the release of norepinephrine (also known as adrenaline) as well as cortisol, a stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. 

Together, these hormones elicit several changes in the human body, including an increased heart rate, contraction of blood vessels to increase the speed at which molecules are transported through the blood, and in some circumstances, an increase in blood sugar. 

Such an increase may be beneficial in helping our muscles respond to danger (by fighting or running) and to help our immune system which may need to respond to an infection or an injury13.

Acute stress, however, can also include non-life threatening moments such as disagreements with family members or friends, traffic jams, work-related deadlines, and so on. How these moments of stress affect blood sugar is less clear, likely because these stressors and our response to them are so varied. 

Because blood sugar levels seem to decrease with a decrease in chronic and severe acute stress, it is likely that taking measures to reduce stress in these non-life threatening moments have a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels. 

The American Diabetes Association suggests trying the following techniques to reduce your stress:

  • Talk about your stress with someone you trust
  • Make time to engage in meditation, prayer, or other forms of mindfulness
  • Take moments to slow down and practice deep breathing
  • Seek help from various diabetes support groups
  • Get help with planning your meals and exercise routines—trying to do everything on your own can be both isolating and stress-inducing
  • Be physically active
  • Find a hobby that makes you laugh

 

Drinking enough water

Without water, there can be no life. 

It’s not surprising then that drinking water and staying hydrated is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Staying hydrated may have many benefits for our health, including a possible connection between hydration status and blood sugar levels. 

When water levels are low, blood pressure decreases. 

This can be bad because blood pressure dictates the speed at which blood—and all the molecules being transported in the blood—flows through our veins. 

When blood pressure is high, it’s easier for hormones, sugars, and nutrients to get from one part of the body to another in a hurry. 

But when blood pressure is low, it’s harder to get resources distributed throughout the body. 

Muscles will begin to cramp as they lack water and energy to maintain a normal flex-release cadence. 

Further dehydration may begin to have more severe effects on the brain's and heart’s ability to function. For this reason, when the body detects dehydration, it activates a stress response15,16,17,18

A hormone known as AVP is released into the bloodstream along with the stress hormone cortisol. 

Together, these hormones help to boost blood pressure and, among other actions, increase blood sugar levels. 

When blood pressure is low, it becomes more difficult to get sugar to cells that are farther from blood vessels 

By increasing the amount of sugar in the blood, the body can temporarily maintain its ability to give sugar to these cells15,16,17,18,19

Some studies have observed a correlation between hydration levels and blood sugar levels, however, the results are mixed when it comes to less severe dehydration such as what you might experience when you haven’t had enough water during a given day. 

While further research is needed, it’s expected that maintaining hydration has an indirect effect on our health and may ultimately help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. 

According to the World Health Organization, the average person should look to drink about 2 liters (around 64 fluid oz.) of water per day, though more may be needed when exercising or living in a warm climate20

 

Losing weight

Weight loss may also have a beneficial impact on your blood sugar levels.  

Body fat has many important roles in the human body. It helps us control our body temperature, for example, and can be a source of energy when the body is in need. 

But it can also have negative effects on blood sugar regulation21-22.

The primary function of fat tissue is to serve as a warehouse where excess energy is stored as fat.  Far from just storing fat, these tissues also release hormones, some of which affect insulin sensitivity.

Researchers have seen that as excess fats build up, a hormone known as adiponectin decreases while another hormone, resistin, increases. These altered hormone levels decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin and decrease its ability to take sugar out of the blood21-22.

Guided weight loss plans, developed with a healthcare professional, have the potential to help you control your blood sugar levels by reducing excess body weight and potentially restoring some insulin sensitivity. 

 

Monitoring blood sugar

It is hard to control your blood sugar levels if you don’t know what your blood sugar levels are. 

Monitoring your blood sugar regularly, using a continuous glucose monitor or fingerstick blood glucose measurements, helps you see how your blood sugar levels change throughout the day and in response to different foods23

It is suggested that people with type 2 diabetes monitor their blood sugar regularly, typically before meals and bedtime. 

Doing this will help you see what activities or foods cause your blood sugar to spike and assist in identifying steps you might be able to take to reduce these spikes in the future24

A1C testing is also important

Because blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day, it can be hard to know what your average blood sugar levels are. 

A1c testing is a good way to see what your average blood sugar levels have been over the previous 3 months. 

 

Eating regularly throughout the day

One interesting observation is that blood sugar levels are not only influenced by what you eat, but also by when you eat. 

Rather than eating three large meals a day, some studies suggest that splitting your meals up into several small meals may have a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels25,26,27,28,29,30,31

The idea here is that you snack throughout the day and occasionally have small meals. 

Blood sugar levels peak after eating a meal, and the height of that peak is determined by the amount of sugar you’ve eaten in that meal. 

By decreasing the amount of food you eat in each meal, you may be able to decrease the height of these sugar spikes and give your body more time to process the sugar. 

There are some important caveats to this method, however:

Studies comparing the effectiveness of eating several meals (as opposed to a few) ensure that the same total amount of food is eaten by each group. 

Put another way, the goal is to eat the same amount of food you would have eaten with three meals but to spread it out across six or nine meals instead. 

This is a risky habit, though, because it’s easy to end up eating more food when snacking which can ultimately lead to more sugar intake as well as weight gain. 

For this reason, meal size should be closely watched when doing this. 

Similarly, the type of food you snack on should be foods that minimize the rise in blood sugar.  

The next section will help you understand which foods can help lower your blood sugar. 

 

Pendulum: Foods that help lower your blood sugar levels 

Foods that help lower your blood sugar levels

One way to lower your blood sugar levels is to alter your diet, shifting it so that you decrease sugary foods and replace them with healthier foods that are known to affect blood sugar levels. 

Here is a list of these types of foods:

 

Foods with a low glycemic load

We mentioned previously that blood sugar levels can be controlled by considering a food’s glycemic load. 

The glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the food’s carbohydrate content (usually measured in grams) by its glycemic index—a measure of how much a food affects blood sugar levels and then dividing by 100. 

White, processed bread, for example, tend to have a higher glycemic index because they largely contain a mixture of carbohydrates but often lack fiber32. Sprouted grain or whole wheat bread, on the other hand, has a lower glycemic index due to the presence of fibers.

It’s important to consider a food’s glycemic index, but also to look beyond it when designing your diet. 

Studies looking into the effectiveness of a diet enriched for low glycemic index foods found a mild but significant decrease in participants’ blood sugar levels compared to those who ate a regular diet containing more carbohydrates33

This may be because a food with a high glycemic index may not deliver a large amount of sugar when eaten in moderate proportions. 

Instead of glycemic index, it may be better to focus on a food’s glycemic load. Foods with a low glycemic load include oats, barley, beans, and non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus and Brussels sprouts. 

 

High-fiber foods

Fibers are carbohydrates found in plants that our bodies can’t digest well. It is recommended that everyone try to eat about 25 grams of fiber per day33

Fibers are known to help decrease blood sugar levels. 

How they do this is still under investigation, but it may involve a combination of slowing sugar absorption in the gut and cultivation of the gut microbiome

The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem composed of many different species of bacteria and fungi (and some viruses). 

Some beneficial bacteria in the gut can use fiber as a nutrient source, meaning that high fiber diets may also encourage the development of a healthy microbiome—which in turn helps to regulate blood sugar levels. 

Fibers also help us feel full, so eating a high fiber diet may decrease the total amount of food you ultimately consume33,34

Foods that are high in fiber include: 

  • Beans and legumes (black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chickpeas, white beans, and lentils)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and peanuts
  • Whole grain pasta, cereal, and oats
  • Flax seeds
  • Dried fruit

 

Resistant starch

Similar to fiber, resistant starches are carbohydrates that the body is slow to digest (if at all), and often requires help from the microbiome to break these types of nutrients down. 

Diets high in resistant starches may also be beneficial for blood sugar levels by helping you to feel full sooner (leading to decreased food intake) and by encouraging microbiome diversity—a sign of a healthy microbiome34,35

Foods that are high in resistant starches include:

  • Rice and pasta that has been cooked and cooled
  • Green bananas
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Whole grain pastas, cereals, and oats 

 

Foods to limit

In addition to increasing the foods listed above, it’s also important to avoid certain foods. 

Specifically, you should limit foods with added sugar33,34.

These foods include:

  • Soda (or pop)
  • Candies
  • High-sugar breakfast cereals

 

Pendulum: 11 supplements that show promise in lowering blood sugar without medication

11 supplements that show promise in lowering blood sugar without medication

There are a lot of claims about supplements that can help lower blood sugar naturally. But it can be tough to know what works and what doesn’t. 

In the following list, we’ve highlighted which supplements have actual clinical studies backing these claims, and which ones are still inconclusive.

It is important to speak with your healthcare provider about starting a supplement, as certain supplements are not reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and can interact with your medications.

 

Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant found in desert climates. The leaves of this plant can be used to produce latex and other gels which have been used for several therapeutic purposes. 

Evidence for the use of Aloe vera gel in the lowering of blood sugar levels is limited, having only been studied a few times in small studies. 

The evidence so far suggests that supplementation with aloe vera gel extract in people with diabetes and prediabetes may help lower blood sugar levels. 

However, more studies are required to determine effective and safe dosing39

 

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a naturally-occurring compound produced in animals and plants. 

This compound plays an important role in several metabolic functions and is being investigated as a potential therapeutic in many different conditions. One of those conditions is diabetes. 

Research in the laboratory environment has shown that Alpha-Lipoic Acid may influence how much sugar cells uptake and may, therefore, affect blood sugar levels. 

It is also a known antioxidant that's been shown to reduce some of the side effects often observed in diabetes. 

Whether this compound can be effective as a supplement for lowering blood sugar levels remains to be seen. However, these early studies indicate that further research is warranted42

 

American ginseng

American ginseng is a plant native to North America which has been shown to have potential blood sugar-lowering effects. 

Research on ginseng is limited, however, initial results have shown that ginseng extracts—isolated from the root of the plant—may help cells in the body become sensitive to insulin. 

By increasing insulin sensitivity, ginseng may cause cells to uptake more sugar than they otherwise would, leading to decreased blood sugar levels. 

However, the relative concentration of compounds within the ginseng appears to influence its effectiveness. 

Variability in supplement effectiveness between ginseng supplements have been observed, likely due to variability in the relative concentration of active ginseng ingredients39

 

Chromium

One topic of research is the potential use of a mineral known as chromium in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. 

Chromium is a mineral that we need and can usually get (in very small amounts) from our diet. 

Meats and whole-grain products, some fruits, vegetables, are typically good dietary sources of chromium. 

This mineral contributes to many biological functions in the body and appears to increase insulin sensitivity. 

This has led some people to speculate that type 2 diabetes may be a result of lower chromium levels (though there is no standard method for measuring chromium levels in a person’s body). 

Studies exploring the effect of diets supplemented with chromium on blood sugar levels have not found conclusive results, meaning there’s no consensus regarding the benefits (or lack thereof) of chromium supplementation37

 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that many people are familiar with. Its use as a therapeutic dates back to early human civilization. 

In recent years, cinnamon has been investigated as a potential supplement to help lower blood sugar levels. 

Multiple studies have been done with mixed results. While some studies have shown an effect to lower blood sugar, others have failed to detect an effect.

However, a large scale analysis of all studies or adequate size exploring this topic concluded that there is not enough evidence to demonstrate that cinnamon supplements have a blood sugar lowering effect. 

More research is needed to determine if an effect exists and, if it does, what amount is required to get the effect.40 

 

Fenugreek

Fenugreek is an herb with a strong aroma that is often used in South Asian dishes. 

This flavorful herb is also packed with fiber, consisting of roughly 30% insoluble fiber and 20% soluble fiber. This may account for its apparent beneficial impact on blood sugar levels. 

Research in multiple large scale studies suggests that fenugreek extract may help to lower HbA1c levels. 

More research is needed to identify the beneficial compounds in fenugreek, and at what concentration they’re effective, and how often supplements need to be taken to reach the desired effect. 

However, these early results are promising39

 

Fish oil

Fish oil refers to supplements that are enriched with an important and beneficial type of fat, known as omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are produced by microalgae and can build up in the tissues of fish that eat algae. 

In the human body, omega-3 fats serve as key building blocks that are used to make various hormones, to transport certain fats through the blood, and to build new cells (among many other functions).

The potential health benefits of supplements containing large amounts of omega-3 fats have been the focus of many clinical trials, some of which were focused on whether these supplements can help people with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels. 

While promising, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that fish oil supplements can lower blood sugar levels. 

Analyzing several randomly-controlled clinical trials reveals that fish oil supplements may help to lower certain fats that circulate through the blood, but no direct effect was observed on patient blood sugar levels.

Research on this topic is ongoing, with researchers looking into factors—such as a person’s DNA or co-existing health conditions—that may influence how effective fish oil supplements are. 

For the time being, however, it appears that fish oil supplements have little to no direct effect on blood sugar levels44,45,46,47.

 

Glutamine

Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid with potential blood sugar lowering effects. 

Oral glutamine supplements have been investigated in preclinical trials—meaning in rodents and in various controlled laboratory studies—to see if and how they may affect sugar uptake. 

Early results suggest that glutamine may increase sugar intake within cells and reduce blood glucose levels in rodents. 

Some human trials have been conducted with a focus on type 1 diabetes with similar results. 

Much more research is needed, however, these early results suggest that glutamine may affect blood glucose levels43

Gymnema

Gymnema is an interesting plant native to South Asia, Africa, and Australia where it has long been used for various medicinal purposes. 

In Hindu culture, the name for Gymnema (gurmar) literally means “destroyer of sugar.” 

Modern research in humans has shown very promising results in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

How this plant reduces blood sugar levels isn’t clear—it may be preventing sugar absorption, increasing sugar removal from the blood, or some combination of the two. 

Despite having been around for such a long time, there are only a limited number of human trials with Gymnema. 

Therefore further research is needed to confirm the effect and determine how this supplement may be safely and effectively used39

Magnesium

Similar to chromium, magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to many different biological functions, including the process of breaking down sugars to extract energy from them. 

We typically get our magnesium from foods such as nuts, beans, salmon, and fruits. 

Studies in people with type 2 diabetes have observed that people with type 2 diabetes tend to have lower magnesium levels—likely as a secondary effect of high blood sugar levels—and have shown that people who eat higher amounts of magnesium-rich foods tend to be less likely to develop diabetes. 

However, mixed results have been produced when studying the effect of magnesium supplements. This led the American Diabetes Association to issue a statement saying that there is not enough evidence to show that magnesium supplements can improve blood sugar levels in people without an underlying magnesium deficiency38

 

Probiotics

In definition, a probiotic is a term describing any supplement that delivers live microorganisms (typically bacteria) that are naturally found in the human body and which may provide some sort of health benefit. 

In practice, probiotics can come in many different forms—ranging from kombucha to supplements—each of which shares the common thread of successfully encouraging the growth of potentially beneficial gut microorganisms.

The underlying principle behind probiotics is the idea that a healthy microbiome is a diverse one consisting of many different bacterial species. 

As health conditions arise, such as type 2 diabetes, some species of bacteria begin to dominate the gut microbiome while the number of potentially beneficial species seems to decline. 

Probiotics work by reintroducing these potentially beneficial bacteria. And, when designed with careful consideration, probiotics have the potential to improve disease-specific symptoms, such as blood A1C levels. 

Although there are many probiotics available, only one of them, Pendulum Glucose Control, has been shown in a clinical trial to be effective for treating disease symptoms. This is because most commercially available probiotics are limited by several factors: 

The specific species included in a probiotic supplement can have a large influence over its effectiveness. Due to technological limitations, for a long time researchers could only cultivate specific species of bacteria. Because of this, many probiotics rely on the same species of bacteria.

Another complicating factor is that rigor among different manufacturers can vary, resulting in some probiotics delivering fewer living bacteria compared to others. Because the goal of the probiotic is to help beneficial bacteria get a foothold in the microbiome and grow, the amount of live bacteria in a probiotic can make a big difference. 

Clinical studies can help determine which probiotics are reliably effective. 

In a double-blind, multi-site clinical study, researchers found that Pendulum Glucose Control could significantly help to lower blood A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Unlike other probiotics, PGC was designed using a novel combination of bacterial species, each selected based on a combination of DNA sequencing data and published research demonstrating their ability to promote a healthy gut environment (through strengthening the mucosal lining in the intestines or by releasing an important signaling molecule known as butyrate). 

Given the quality control measures in place to ensure that Pendulum Glucose Control is consistently delivering living bacteria and the clinical evidence showing its effectiveness, this probiotic is described as a medical probiotic—meaning it is a probiotic that is specifically designed and demonstrated to target disease-specific symptoms (in this case, markers of blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes).

Not all probiotics are well studied. However, looking for probiotics backed by clinical evidence and supported by rigorous testing (such as virulence testing, pathogen testing, and antibiotic resistance testing), the good probiotics can be sorted from the rest. 

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important molecule that plays a role in calcium absorption from the gut and ultimately contributes to bone growth and other calcium-dependent physiological activities. 

The majority of vitamin D in a person’s body is produced in their skin and converted into its active form when skin is exposed to sunlight. 

However, dietary sources (including supplements) can also be a source. 

Vitamin D has been extensively studied for its role in various biological processes, and some studies have shown that it may decrease a person’s likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. 

These studies provide an interesting start for future research but are limited by the lack of strong clinical trials that are needed to make conclusions about vitamin D’s effectiveness in the treatment and prevention of diabetes41

 

Conclusion

Lowering your blood sugar levels can feel overwhelming, but it is doable with both dietary and lifestyle changes; and, when necessary, medication. 

By exercising regularly, increasing fiber intake, spreading your meals out across the day, and nurturing a healthy microbiome are all effective ways to lower your blood sugar levels.

Supplements are often promising but not yet proven. 

However, Pendulum’s Glucose Control stands apart as having been shown in a clinical trial to be an effective probiotic capable of lowering A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 


References

  1. Hantzidiamantis, Paris J. “Physiology, Glucose.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545201/.
  2. Solis-Herrera, Carolina. “Classification of Diabetes Mellitus.” Endotext [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 Feb. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279119/.
  3. Colberg, Sheri R et al. “Exercise and type 2 diabetes: the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement.” Diabetes care vol. 33,12 (2010): e147-67. doi:10.2337/dc10-9990 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2992225/
  4. Bolla, Andrea Mario et al. “Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.” Nutrients vol. 11,5 962. 26 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11050962. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566854/
  5. Wang, Li-Li et al. “The Effect of Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Glycemic Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” Nutrients vol. 10,6 661. 23 May. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10060661 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024764/
  6. Paoli, A et al. “Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets.” European journal of clinical nutrition vol. 67,8 (2013): 789-96. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23801097/
  7. Harris, Melissa L et al. “Stress increases the risk of type 2 diabetes onset in women: A 12-year longitudinal study using causal modelling.” PloS one vol. 12,2 e0172126. 21 Feb. 2017, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172126 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319684/
  8. Kelly, Shona J., and Mubarak Ismail. “Stress and Type 2 Diabetes: A Review of How Stress Contributes to the Development of Type 2 Diabetes.” Annual Review of Public Health, vol. 36, no. 1, 2015, pp. 441–462., doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122921. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2581486
  9. Stephens, Mary Ann C, and Gary Wand. “Stress and the HPA axis: role of glucocorticoids in alcohol dependence.” Alcohol research : current reviews vol. 34,4 (2012): 468-83. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23584113/
  10. Chan, O., et al. “Diabetes Impairs Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Responses to Hypoglycemia, and Insulin Treatment Normalizes HPA but Not Epinephrine Responses.” Diabetes, vol. 51, no. 6, Jan. 2002, pp. 1681–1689., doi:10.2337/diabetes.51.6.1681.https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/51/6/1681
  11. Lloyd, C., et al. “Stress and Diabetes: A Review of the Links.” Diabetes Spectrum, vol. 18, no. 2, Jan. 2005, pp. 121–127., doi:10.2337/diaspect.18.2.121.https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/18/2/121?cited-by=yes&legid=diaspect;18/2/121&patientinform-links=yes&legid=diaspect;18/2/121
  12. Hilliard, Marisa E et al. “Stress and A1c Among People with Diabetes Across the Lifespan.” Current diabetes reports vol. 16,8 (2016): 67. doi:10.1007/s11892-016-0761-3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27287017/
  13. Marik, Paul E, and Rinaldo Bellomo. “Stress hyperglycemia: an essential survival response!.” Critical care (London, England) vol. 17,2 305. 6 Mar. 2013, doi:10.1186/cc12514 https://ccforum.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/cc12514
  14. Carroll, Harriet A, and Lewis J James. “Hydration, Arginine Vasopressin, and Glucoregulatory Health in Humans: A Critical Perspective.” Nutrients vol. 11,6 1201. 28 May. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11061201 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627358/
  15. Carroll, Harriet A et al. “Effect of acute hypohydration on glycemic regulation in healthy adults: a randomized crossover trial.” Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985) vol. 126,2 (2019): 422-430. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00771.2018 https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/pmc6397405
  16. Muscogiuri, Giovanna, et al. “Water Intake Keeps Type 2 Diabetes Away? Focus on Copeptin.” Endocrine, vol. 62, no. 2, 2018, pp. 292–298., doi:10.1007/s12020-018-1680-7. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Water-intake-keeps-type-2-diabetes-away-Focus-on-Muscogiuri-Barrea/945009a060ccb1a23b42c12ee54f901b52dd809d
  17. Johnson, Evan C., et al. “Reduced Water Intake Deteriorates Glucose Regulation in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” Nutrition Research, vol. 43, 2017, pp. 25–32., doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2017.05.004. https://europepmc.org/article/med/28739050
  18. Written by Editor Updated on 15th January 2019, and Editor. “People with Diabetes Have an Increased Risk of Dehydration as High Blood Glucose Levels Lead to Decreased Hydration in the Body.” Diabetes, 11 Mar. 2020, www.diabetes.co.uk/dehydration-and-diabetes.html.
  19. Roussel, Ronan et al. “Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia.” Diabetes care vol. 34,12 (2011): 2551-4. doi:10.2337/dc11-0652 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21994426/

Leave a Comment