Ayurvedic foods like karela / bitter gourd, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, okra, amla, fenugreek / methi, cumin / jeera help to lower blood sugar level in diabetes
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Role of Ayurvedic Food or Diet in Diabetes
Diabetes can be described as a disease that is directly connected to the blood glucose levels of the body. In this case, the blood sugar level is extremely high, and this causes disorderliness in the body systems.
Ordinarily, the body is expected to digest and break down foods into essential glucose and circulate it to the body cells throughout the system of the body. The final product of the glucose is energy, and the cells carry out the work through a hormone called insulin. However, if the body doesn’t produce required insulin to process the glucose, the blood sugar tends to rise.
There are two types of diabetes namely; type 1 and type 2. The cases of diabetes have recently become a thing of concern as they are on the increase now and then. According to a report by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in 2015, India is one of the top three countries with the highest diabetic population with about 69.1 million. This has brought up concerns for its treatments and prevention.
Just like the other diseases, healthy diet and nutrition have been observed to be the answer to diabetic treatment and prevention. Going by Dr. Rahul Dogra of the Kairali Ayurvedic Group’s saying, it states that “diet planning is the keystone of diabetic management.” This has brought up this content to discuss some of these foods that can help and effectively checkmate diabetes.
If you are diabetic patients, foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber are highly recommended to reduce better and control your blood glucose levels. Below are Ayurvedic foods that can keep diabetes at bay:
Bitter Gourd or bitter melon (Karela) for Diabetes
Bitter gourd with botanical name “Momordica charantia” is also known as bitter melon or karela. It is a well-known vegetable and medicines which usually grows in the Asian countries. It belongs to Cucurbitaceae family, and its health benefits cannot be over-emphasized especially in treating diabetes. (Read Ayurveda Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon (Karela) )
Ayurveda claims that consuming raw bitter gourd offers more health benefits than other forms. Apart from its effectiveness for treatment of diabetes, adding bitter melon in your diet also helps in fighting acne and other skin conditions. Bitter melon as it is usually called; helps keep diabetes at bay by preventing the absorption of glucose. This has been the most significant use of bitter gourd, and diabetic patients keep using it to reduce the blood sugar level to checkmate different types of diabetes. Consuming bitter gourd juice in empty stomach helps to reduce blood sugar level. It can now be found in various forms such as tea, extracts, juice, and pills.
Turmeric or Haldi for Diabetes
Turmeric (Read Ayurveda Medicinal Properties of Turmeric (Haldi) ) is one of the important Ayurvedic medicinal foods that have been found useful for type 2 diabetic diseases. is a medicinal herb derived from Curcuma longa root belonging to the ginger family. It is naturally equipped with different medicinal properties for the treatment of diabetes. Turmeric is originated from its root, and apart from its effectiveness for diabetes, it is widely known for many health benefits such as pain relief and other disease prevention. Turmeric can be effectively used in diabetes by adding a pinch of turmeric in milk. (Read Benefits of Drinking Turmeric Milk )
Curcumin is the active component in the turmeric that is responsible for its medicinal benefits in Ayurveda‘s system of medicine. Many studies have suggested that this component in the turmeric is capable of reducing the blood glucose level, cholesterol, and as well as effective for other diabetes-related conditions.
Milk is considered as aphrodisiac in ayurveda. Hence turmeric milk can be used as natural remedy for erectile dysfunction in diabetes.
Cinnamon or Dalchini for Diabetes
Cinnamon is one of the Ayurvedic aromatic spice extracted from the inner part of the bark of cinnamon trees. (Read Ayurveda Health Benefits of Cinnamon ) It is usually grown in the tropical region of South America, Caribbean, and South Asia. It is one of the best medicinal herbs but not popularly known among its medical peers.
Cinnamon contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties which have been found helpful to diabetic patients. Out of many types of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon is the most effective for the regulation of blood glucose which is responsible for diabetes. It does it by reducing the body’s resistance to insulin as well as minimizing the overall body cholesterol levels of the people with diabetes.
This spice contains numerous antioxidants and is rated second highest in antioxidant content among other spices. Many clinical studies have confirmed the benefits of cinnamon in lowering blood sugar and sensitising insulin. This spice also helps in weight loss and is considered as a powerful fat burner. Though there has been mixed reactions to its effect, however, cinnamon has been proven to curb blood sugar by reducing the resistance of insulin to help diabetic conditions.
Based on principles of Ayurveda this herb has hot potency (ushna veerya) and also helps in reduction of body fat. It normalises metabolism and prevents indigestion. Reduce in body fat immensely help in controlling blood sugar level. Hence ayurvedic doctors at Moolika Ayurveda have preferably added cinnamon in NILOBESE Ayurvedic Herbal Weight Loss Tea .
The studies showed that some doses of cinnamon were administered in capsules to diabetic patients for 40 days and there were improvements in both bad LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels. However, there is a reservation on the consumption of cinnamon especially in people with liver problems. Cassia cinnamon spice, for instance, contains some unhealthy substance known as coumarin usually found in many other plants. This substance has been studied to be toxic and harmful to the liver. So, before taking cinnamon spices, consult your doctor. Aside all this, cinnamon spice helps lower blood sugar, as well as helps in the treatment of diabetes
Cinnamon can be in powder form like spices or as a supplement to be taken as directed by physicians. A clinical trial has shown that 1 or 3 or 6 gram for 40 days can lower triglyceride, serum glucose, and bad cholesterol. An Agricultural Research Magazine report also showed that a daily consumption of 1- 6 gram of cinnamon could improve the sensitivity of insulin to help treat and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Ginger or Adrak for Diabetes
Ginger or adrak is an Asian ingredient of the Zingiber officinale plant that composes of useful properties to benefit people with diabetes. The rhizome or root of a ginger plant can be processed and consumed in powdered form, fresh, or dried like spices or as juice or oil form.
Many researchers have shown that ginger is rich in gingerols and capable of increasing glucose uptake into muscle cells without absorbing insulin. This has helped in the management of blood sugar level. Ginger is one of the key ingredients in Indian recipes and foods.
The unique benefit of ginger unlike the other foods used for treating diabetes is its ability to control blood glucose and produce glucose without building on insulin.
Apart from regulating blood sugar, ginger root has also been researched to help bronchitis, nausea, menstrual, and heartburn symptoms. Spicing your foods with ginger has been studied to benefit people with diabetes by lowering the blood glucose levels. (Also read Ayurveda Health Benefits of Ginger)
Ginger is known for its medicinal properties such as anti-inflammatory, digestive agent, and anti-nausea ability to benefit many health conditions. It is studied to improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and reduce oxidation. In the experiment carried out on rats, it showed that ginger induces diabetes with its blood-sugar-lowering effects and insulin resistance.
Okra or Lady finger for Diabetes
Okra is another Ayurveda food that can help minimize levels of blood sugar and control different types of diabetes. It is popularly known as ladies fingers, and it consists of essential elements including polyphenolic molecules that are useful for blood sugar (glucose) levels reduction. (Read Health Benefits of Lady Finger or OKRA )
Okra has been studied to contain anti-hyperlipidermic and anti-diabetic properties to treat and prevent diabetes. It can be prepared differently but for effective treatment of diabetes, ends of okras are cut off and prick by a fork in a plate. Then, soak in a jar or glass of water (depending on the quantity) overnight to extract the needed properties from it. In the next morning, filter the content and drink the liquid on an empty stomach before eating anything. Consumption of this okra water every day for several weeks has been researched to reduce blood glucose levels and keep your diabetes at bay. Incorporating okras in your diet will also go a long way in regulating your blood sugar levels.
Amla or Indian Gooseberry for Diabetes :
It is a well-known fruit in the Indian gooseberry tree for controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Alma (Read Ayurveda Health Benefits of Amla ) is rich in chromium mineral that controls carbohydrate metabolism; thereby helps the body to respond to insulin. Amla juice helps the body to utilize blood glucose efficiently.
Cumin Seeds or Jeera for Diabetes
This is a small seed usually added to Indian dishes like curries. Cumin has earthy, nutty, and pungent flavor, adding aroma to the foods. It is equipped with magnesium, calcium antioxidant, and iron. Ayurvedic medicine uses cumin to prevent many diseases such as blood sugar management and to improve digestion. Cumin seeds (Ayurveda health Benefits of Cumin Seeds or Jeera)supplement taking along with diabetes medications is capable of lower the level of blood sugar in the body to less than 70 mg/dL.
Fenugreek or Methi Seeds for Diabetes :
This herb is another aromatic plant studied to help lower blood sugar level. It is one of the major medicinal spices of curries and as well as other Indian recipes. Fenugreek seeds are equipped with many minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, iron, and copper, and also vitamins such as riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, folic acid, and pyridoxine.
They are popular for their capability to help people with diabetes (Read Ayurvedic Treatment for Diabetes ) by lowering their blood sugar levels. Fenugreek spice contains fiber that helps regulate sugar and carbohydrates absorption by slowing down digestion process; thereby enhance and regulate the body the way it uses sugar. The seeds have been beneficial in Chinese traditional medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
Fennel Seeds or Saunf for diabetes
Fennel seeds which are also known as Saunf in India is a very popular medicinal herb commonly used for digestive ailments. Seeds of fennel are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It is also store house of anti-oxidants and fibre. Various research have shown that it has other compounds which help to control blood sugar level in diabetes. Usually leaves and seeds of this plant are used for medicinal purpose. According to principles of Ayurveda, this herb helps in weight loss and recommended by Ayurveda vaidyas for ayurvedic obesity treatment.
Diabetes diet facts and ayurveda view
Patients suffering from diabetes have to be well educated about their diet to keep the blood sugar level under control. A well planned diet always helps to keep the diabetic complications at bay. Here are few important facts which have to be carefully noted by diabetic patients, while consuming food.
- Spread your daily diet over three healthy meals and two healthy snacks.
- Strictly avoid extra intake of salt. Pickles, fast foods, chips, chats etc are laden with salt. Hence avoid these in your diet.
- Take care to avoid fatty foods . Increased fat doubles the chances of heart diseases especially in diabetics.
- Reduce quantity of carbohydrates. Foods like rice, wheat, ragi, jowar etc are rich in carbohydrates. Reducing the quantity helps to control diabetes.
- Strictly say no to sugar , sweets, chocolates, ice creams, soft drinks etc.
- Include foods which are rich in nutrients like proteins, vitamins and minerals. Pulses, sprouts, green leafy vegetables, fruits, skimmed milk, butter milk etc are good sources of above mentioned nutrients.
- Avoid foods which have high glycemic index. Potatoes, carrots, breads and banana have high glycemic index and they increase the blood-sugar levels.
- Avoid red meat and reduce consumption of eggs. Lean fish can be used once in a week. It is always advisable for non vegetarians to slowly shift to vegetarian diet to prevent the complications of diabetes.
- Ayurveda acharyas strongly suggest not to eat sweets and preparations which are made from sugar and jaggary(gur) as main ingredient.
- Texts of ayurveda recommend reduced intake of food which are rich in starch.
- In ayurveda text “yogaratnakara” , it is mentioned that increased intake of cooked rice (anna), full fat milk (ksheera), red meat and other kapha increasing foods leads to diabetes.
Diabetes, as well as other diseases, requires sticking to a healthy and nutritional diet, adhering to a good sleeping pattern, regular exercise, and keeping healthy lifestyles. However, healthy diet has been studied to be most effective that shouldn’t be compromised because this is what is going into our stomach and this is one of the important means of gaining energy and keeping ourselves fit.
Many Ayurveda foods are good for one disease or the other. Some of these foods have been discussed in this article to prevent and treat diabetes. When your blood glucose level is checkmated, diabetes disease is controlled in the process. Take a giant step and try these foods as suggested and you will see the positive result.
Author: Author – Dr.Savitha Suri. Consultant ayurvedic physician.
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