A healthy diet, a sensible and regular exercise regime, actively understanding and managing the stresses in one’s life. These are all important steps we can all take along life’s journey to help support good blood glucose (or sugar) levels, and thus reduce the risks of more serious ailments related to ongoing blood glucose imbalances.
Impaired insulin production
Impaired insulin production – as in both excessive and also low insulin production, are the result of blood glucose imbalances in our body. If this scenario continues unchecked then it is most likely to lead to diabetes and potentially even more serious health complications. Insulin is a hormone responsible for keeping the blood sugar levels in our body between the normal and desired ranges.
A poor diet (particularly one laden in processed carbohydrates), a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, or ongoing stressful situations in life; these are all factors that can affect the harmony of our body’s blood glucose balance. Unfortunately for some a family history of type II diabetes or being born with a condition such as cellular insulin resistance mean vigilance and ideally discipline (in terms of diet etc.) from an early age.
Balancing blood sugars
At Cytoplan we have updated our health professionals booklet titled ‘Balancing Blood Sugars’; this is available below in a pdf format to both read and download. The booklet offers an excellent overview of the functions and relationships between glucose and insulin in our body, how insulin imbalances commonly occur, the typical symptoms of blood glucose imbalance and influencing factors.
The booklet also offers a range of information on how we can help to manage blood glucose levels effectively; there is also an overview of the ‘Glycaemic Index’ (GI). A low-glycaemic diet is a healthy diet and particularly so for those wishing to manage blood glucose levels. This information includes glycaemic index guidelines on popular and pertinent foods. Managing carbohydrate cravings for example is often an important factor for many struggling with fluctuating blood glucose levels.
Natural Nutrient Support
There are a number of natural nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are commonly associated with supporting good blood glucose levels. There is some information in the health practitioner booklet provided and below we provide a focus on cinnamon and the minerals chromium and zinc.
However it is important to note that good nutritive levels need to go hand-in-hand with an appropriate diet, exercise and stress management (etc.) when seeking to manage blood glucose.
Chromium is a lesser known mineral with whole grains, eggs and meat being the best natural sources. Most fruit and vegetables are low in chromium, except for broccoli, which has a naturally high level. Chromium is difficult to absorb with only about 3% of chromium from food being retained in the body; and the amount stored in the body decreases with age.
Chromium has two permitted health claims from EFSA (The European Food Safety Authority) and these are particularly pertinent to the topic of managing blood glucose. The permitted claims are:
- Chromium contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels
- Chromium contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism
It is important to note here that there are various forms of chromium available in a supplement form and at Cytoplan we always recommend ‘GTF Chromium’, particularly in relation to blood glucose management. The naturally occurring form of chromium is called GTF chromium (Organic chromium, an active ingredient of a substance called GTF – Glucose Tolerance Factor). GTF chromium is different from simple chromium compounds because it is more easily absorbed by your body and far safer than other forms.
GTF chromium stimulates the activity of enzymes involved in the metabolism of glucose for energy and the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. GTF chromium appears to increase the effectiveness of insulin and its ability to handle glucose. When chromium levels are low, GTF levels are low too and the activity of insulin is blocked; blood glucose levels therefore remain elevated.
As previously mentioned diets high in refined carbohydrates increase risks of impaired blood glucose balance. Such processed carbohydrate diets tend to be low in GTF chromium whilst complex carbohydrates have higher GTF chromium levels.
In addition diets high in refined carbohydrates soon begin to exhaust the normal blood glucose control mechanisms. The end result can be hypoglycaemia, insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes. Obesity is strongly linked to blood sugar disturbances because of the increasing sensitivity to insulin.
Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body, being present in all tissues. Zinc has a variety of functions and it is a constituent of more than 2,000 enzymes involved in digestion and metabolism. Good natural food sources are oysters, liver, brewer’s yeast, eggs, wheat bran, wheat germ, herring, mushrooms, pumpkin and squash seeds.
Zinc is readily absorbed in the upper and small intestine and the body only absorbs as much as it needs at a time. Diets rich in natural unprocessed foods will always help to provide good mineral content such as zinc.
Importantly zinc is a component of insulin and it is also part of the enzyme that is needed to break down alcohol. High alcohol intake is often an influencing factor in blood glucose imbalance and such individuals may frequently be deficient in good zinc levels. Zinc improves cell health, making up a component of the enzymes necessary for insulin to bind to cells so that glucose can enter and be utilised for energy.
Zinc has a number of permitted EFSA health claims and the one most pertinent to the topic of managing blood glucose is:
- Zinc contributes to normal carbohydrate metabolism
Diets high in refined carbohydrates are frequently found to be low in zinc levels. So again another reason to avoid an excessive intake of these foods.
Cinnamon is a very well known culinary condiment – particularly when it comes to baking and pancake day! However it is also a spice used in cooking for centuries that also has a similar lineage in historical use for its medicinal properties. Cinnamon is obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. And it is the same form of cinnamon used in culinary applications that is used for medicinal application.
Cinnamon is well known for its antioxidant rich properties; at this point we should stress that the spice does not currently have any permitted EFSA health claims. However it does have a very high ‘ORAC’ (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) score which is a typical indicator of antioxidant quality in foods.
Research indicates that cinnamon facilitates glucose use in humans, and enhances insulin sensitivity and uptake into muscle cells (research references cited in the pdf below). It is considered that cinnamon may assist in balancing blood glucose levels by positively stimulating insulin receptors, thus making their job in managing blood glucose more efficient.
Insulin-dependent diabetics should not take chromium or cinnamon supplements without suitably qualified medical advice. There are multi-formulations tailored toward supporting blood sugar levels and again the same advice applies.
In closing anyone looking to take a supplement whether comprising a single vitamin, mineral or other nutrient, or a multi-formulation if in any doubt should seek the advice of a health professional or advice directly from the supplement company, particularly if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
If you have any questions regarding this article, any of the health topics raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.
Amanda Williams, Cytoplan
firstname.lastname@example.org, 01684 310099
NEW – Cytoplan Blood Glucose Support supplement (launches May 1st 2014)
NEW – Cytoplan Blood Glucose Support
Our new blood glucose support supplement is designed to help regulate blood sugar and prevent hyper/ hypo glycaemic swings. The supplement comprises cinnamon and excellent levels of Chromium GTF as part of a mineral complex. The formula will also help reduce carbohydrate cravings and can be taken at intervals throughout the day.
Cytoplan Blood Glucose Support has 60 one-a-day gluten-free capsules per bottle and is currently 30%* off for both retail and practitioner customers as part of the launch of this product.(* for May and June 2014 only).
You can also download the PDF document with the following link: Cytoplan Health Professionals Leaflet- Balancing your Blood Sugar Booklet May 2014.pdf