9 Ways Turmeric Can Help Control Your Diabetes

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How Turmeric Can Help Control Your Diabetics

Think of turmeric as a multi-pronged natural treatment for diabetes. The anti-hyperglycemic spice can improve insulin sensitivity, counter inflammation, help lower blood sugar, reduce levels of glycosylated hemoglobin, and inhibit enzymes linked to diabetes. Plus, it helps bring down cholesterol and triglycerides which are linked to premature coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis in diabetics.

If you are looking for ways to manage your diabetes better, golden Asian spice and ayurvedic remedy turmeric may be just what you need. Whether you down it in meals, as golden milk, or in straight-up herbal remedies, there’s plenty turmeric can do to fight diabetes and possibly even prevent it. Read on for more on this potent anti-inflammatory remedy and learn how it can help treat diabetes.

1. Works As An Anti-Hyperglycemic

Curcumin, a polyphenol and a major component of turmeric, plays a central role in much of the spice’s benefits against diabetes. It can help lower your blood glucose levels by bringing down glucose production in the liver. (That’s besides improving insulin sensitivity, a property detailed further in the next section.) This glucose-lowering effect of turmeric/curcumin has been observed in human trials and studies on both diabetics and those with prediabetes.1 Which is why it is counted among effective natural antihyperglycemic agents available to you. Curcumin in turmeric also helps bring down levels of glycosylated hemoglobin, an indicator of how much in control your diabetes really is, besides helping lower blood sugar levels.2

2. Improves Insulin Sensitivity

The curcumin in turmeric helps stimulate glucose uptake by the body and stimulates insulin secretion by the pancreatic tissues. It also improves pancreatic cell function and reduced insulin resistance overall. Because insulin resistance is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, you could use turmeric to improve your insulin sensitivity and bring down the risk on this front.3

3. Fights Free Radical Damage And Vascular Complications

When your body has high blood sugar levels, the greater uptake of glucose can cause a rise in reactive oxygen species. These, in turn, cause the oxidative degradation of fats in the body and sets off inflammatory pathways. It can also lead to heart or kidney disease and many of the vascular complications linked to diabetes, including strokes.4

The antioxidant properties of turmeric are legendary and curcumin has been compared to some of the most potent antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and beta-carotene. Curcumin can scavenge free radicals responsible for causing toxicity and damage in the body.5

4. Fights Inflammation In Diabetics

Inflammation plays a major role in diabetes, which makes the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric more important than ever. The spice is known to help improve endocrine function and protect against inflammation via multiple mechanisms.6 Curcumin can counteract the increase of proinflammatory cytokines typical of the condition.7 It can also reduce inflammatory signals that are overactive in those with diabetes and could even help improve the action of insulin response pathways that are usually disrupted in diabetics.8

5. Reduces Postprandial Glycemia

Turmeric oil can help inhibit glucosidase enzymes effectively.9 Glucosidase inhibitors are being explored in diabetes therapy because they can retard glucose absorption by inhibiting enzymes like glucosidase in the intestine. This can help reduce postprandial hyperglycemia by delaying absorption of carbohydrates that you consume. Turmeric can, therefore, help bring down postprandial glycemia as well as insulin peaks you may experience after a meal.10

6. Helps Delay And Prevent Diabetes In Prediabetics

If you are prediabetic and trying to prevent it from progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes, the results of one study in particular might interest you. Researchers gave a population with prediabetes a 9-month long course of curcumin capsules or placebo capsules. A lower proportion of people in the curcumin group developed type 2 diabetes (T2DM) compared to those who had just a placebo. Taking the curcumin also seemed to improve the function of β-cells in the pancreas and did not present any major adverse side effects.

Besides this, multiple animal studies have shown curcumin to be effective in delaying the development of type 2 diabetes as well as in reducing insulin resistance, preventing death of β-cells, and improving β-cell function.11

7. Boosts Liver Function And Fights Fatty Liver Disease In Diabetics

Turmeric also has hepatoprotective properties. This means it can help your liver function and its health. Why is this important in the context of diabetes? Diabetes tends to increase your risk of fatty liver disease and liver problems. In one animal study, diabetic subjects consuming curcumin in their diet for 8 weeks saw a decrease in liver weight and lowered excretion of creatinine, urea, inorganic phosphorus, and albumin – indications of improved function.12

8. Heals Wounds Faster

As a diabetic, you may also face issues with slow wound healing. This is a result of the higher oxidative stress your body experiences and the prolonged inflammation in the system. Topical application of curcumin can help hasten wound healing due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.13 It can also ease any swelling as a result of the inflammation.14

9. Improves Cardiovascular Health In Diabetics

Diabetes tends to cause unhealthy high cholesterol levels, which can then raise your risk of cardiovascular disease. Diabetic dyslipidemia is a condition in which you have lower than normal levels of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It exposes you to the risk of premature atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.15 Curcumin in turmeric can lower your triglyceride levels as well as bring down total cholesterol levels, a hyperlipidemic effect seen in multiple studies.16 17 Long-term consumption helps lower levels of plasma cholesterol as well as hepatic cholesterol, which can help avoid early onset of atherosclerosis.18

How To Have Your Turmeric

If you’re sold on the idea of turmeric, you’ll be happy to learn that curry isn’t the only form in which you can consume the earthy spice. Here are some ways to have your turmeric through your diet:

  • Golden Milk: If you’ve heard tales of golden milk doing the rounds, know this – the yellow hue of that now popular drink found in cafes across the country comes from turmeric! Simply infuse a spoon of organic turmeric into warmed milk with some honey to taste if you like your drinks sweet. If you can’t have dairy, coconut milk or other non-dairy milks will do fine.
  • Turmeric Tea: Infuse turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root into boiling water. Add a twist of lime or lemon and honey for flavor. If you prefer your tea milky, add milk instead of the lime or lemon.
  • Fresh Turmeric Root Smoothies/Juices: If you can get your hands on fresh turmeric root, just toss it into a smoothie as you would with fresh ginger.
  • Turmeric-Based Curries/Stir-Fry: Add a spoon or two of organic turmeric powder to your curries or a stir-fry with an Asian flair. If you don’t want it to dominate too much, add a little to a soup or stew and you may not even notice it is there.

For wound healing, topical application of turmeric containing creams or organic, pure turmeric powder work well.19

Dietary Intake Of Turmeric Is Safe But Limit Supplement Dosage

If you’re having turmeric in your food, it is unlikely to cause any adverse side effects and you can safely use a spoon or so in all meals or enjoy a cup of turmeric milk or tea every day.

Of course, there are always supplements that incorporate curcumin or turmeric, but there remain questions around the appropriate dosage for effective results, its uptake by your body, and potential side effects from prolonged use. Some experts suggest about 500 mg in capsule form every day but clarify that this will vary depending on the individual’s needs and medical history.20 Others suggest even higher doses – but this must be done with caution and under the guidance of your doctor.

If you are on any kind of blood thinning medication, don’t consume more than regular dietary amounts as this could interfere with your medication. If you plan on significantly raising your consumption of the spice, do check with your doctor first.21

References   [ + ]

1, 3. Ghorbani, Zeinab, Azita Hekmatdoost, and Parvin Mirmiran. “Anti-hyperglycemic and insulin sensitizer effects of turmeric and its principle constituent curcumin.” International journal of endocrinology and metabolism 12, no. 4 (2014).
2. Elder, Charles. “Ayurveda for diabetes mellitus: a review of the biomedical literature.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine10, no. 1 (2004): 44.
4. Asmat, Ullah, Khan Abad, and Khan Ismail. “Diabetes mellitus and oxidative stress—a concise review.” Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal 24, no. 5 (2016): 547-553.
5. Akram, M., S. H. Uddin, A. Ahmed, K. Usmanghani, A. Hannan, E. Mohiuddin, and M. Asif. “Curcuma longa and curcumin: a review article.” Rom J Biol Plant Biol 55, no. 2 (2010): 65-70.
6. Al-Suhaimi, Ebtesam A., Noorah A. Al-Riziza, and Reham A. Al-Essa. “Physiological and therapeutical roles of ginger and turmeric on endocrine functions.” The American journal of Chinese medicine 39, no. 02 (2011): 215-231.
7. Julie, S., and M. T. Jurenka. “Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent.” Alternative medicine review 14, no. 2 (2009).
8. Add Spice and Add Life!. Diabetes Action Research & Education Foundation.
9. Lekshmi, P. C., Ranjith Arimboor, P. S. Indulekha, and A. Nirmala Menon. “Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) volatile oil inhibits key enzymes linked to type 2 diabetes.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition 63, no. 7 (2012): 832-834.
10. Pereira, Danielle Fontana, Luisa Helena Cazarolli, Cristiane Lavado, Vanessa Mengatto, Maria Santos Reis Bonorino Figueiredo, Alessandro Guedes, Moacir Geraldo Pizzolatti, and Fátima Regina Mena Barreto Silva. “Effects of flavonoids on α-glucosidase activity: potential targets for glucose homeostasis.” Nutrition 27, no. 11 (2011): 1161-1167.
11. Chuengsamarn, Somlak, Suthee Rattanamongkolgul, Rataya Luechapudiporn, Chada Phisalaphong, and Siwanon Jirawatnotai. “Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 35, no. 11 (2012): 2121-2127.
12. Zhang, Dong-wei, Min Fu, Si-Hua Gao, and Jun-Li Liu. “Curcumin and diabetes: a systematic review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).
13. Kant, Vinay, Anu Gopal, Nitya N. Pathak, Pawan Kumar, Surendra K. Tandan, and Dinesh Kumar. “Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of curcumin accelerated the cutaneous wound healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” International immunopharmacology 20, no. 2 (2014): 322-330.
14, 21. Nasri, Hamid, Najmeh Shahinfard, Mortaza Rafieian, Samira Rafieian, Maryam Shirzad, and Mahmoud Rafieian. “Turmeric: A spice with multifunctional medicinal properties.” J HerbMed Pharmacol 3, no. 1 (2014): 5-8.
15. Cholesterol Abnormalities & Diabetes.American Heart Association.
16. Babu, P. Suresh, and K. Srinivasan. “Hypolipidemic action of curcumin, the active principle of turmeric (Curcuma longa) in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry 166, no. 1-2 (1997): 169-175.
17. Soni, K. B., and R. Kuttan. “Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers.” Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology 36 (1992): 273-273.
18. Shin, Su‐Kyung, Tae‐Youl Ha, Robin A. McGregor, and Myung‐Sook Choi. “Long‐term curcumin administration protects against atherosclerosis via hepatic regulation of lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism.” Molecular nutrition & food research 55, no. 12 (2011): 1829-1840.
19. Chattopadhyay, Ishita, Kaushik Biswas, Uday Bandyopadhyay, and Ranajit K. Banerjee. “Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications.” CURRENT SCIENCE-BANGALORE- 87 (2004): 44-53.
20. You Asked: Should I Take Turmeric Supplements?.Time Health.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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