Keeping Blood Sugar at a Healthy Level
Over the last 50 years, our lifestyle has become more sedentary and our diet has shifted toward processed foods high in calories, carbohydrates and saturated fat. The number of people with impaired glucose tolerance has skyrocketed. This trend has led to a worldwide epidemic of diabetes, with an estimated 387 million people dealing with the disease.1
It all starts with blood sugar imbalances. Along with poor diet and lifestyle, a number of factors may contribute to such impaired glucose function. They include family history, weight, high blood pressure and ethnicity. Symptoms can be varied and hard to identify, ranging from unexplained fatigue to mood swings. But if not addressed, blood sugar imbalances can lead to diabetes and ultimately cause debilitating health issues.
So it is wise, especially as you get older, to get a handle on your blood sugar levels. Women’s health expert Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, suggests testing your blood sugar to find out if you have a problem or not. While blood sugar function is very individual, there are a number of ways to evaluate blood glucose levels to see where you are at: check fasting blood sugar when you have not had a meal for at least 8 hours, postprandial blood sugar, taken two hours after a meal, and random blood sugar, which can be tested throughout the day. You can do this yourself using a glucometer. Or, work with your doctor to determine your blood sugar levels.
Normal blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL after fasting for at least 8 hours and less than 140 mg/dL within two hours following a meal.2 Any blood sugar levels outside of this range are unhealthy and should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner. If you are in the normal category, there are a number of things you can do to manage and keep blood sugar levels healthy as you get older.
Most experts now recommend healthy lifestyle changes involving a balanced diet, including breakfast with some protein every morning, minimal intake of grains, especially wheat, managing your stress levels and daily exercise.
Beyond that, a growing body of scientific evidence now shows the promise of natural and traditional methods to help support blood sugar metabolism. Salacia oblonga is a good example. The perennial woody plant, native to India and Sri Lanka, has been used in traditional Indian medicine to address diabetes and obesity for centuries. Recent clinical studies now show it has been effective in reducing and controlling blood glucose levels in both healthy subjects and even those with type 2 diabetes.3, 4 The herbal extract works by inhibiting carbohydrate absorption, which can cause spikes in blood sugar after a meal. Compounds in the S. oblonga extract bind to intestinal enzymes and block the breakdown of carbohydrates or starch in the intestine.5
Though there is still much to learn about maintaining healthy blood sugar metabolism, as the science behind Salacia oblonga emerges, it will become an increasingly strong nutritional solution to not only keep blood sugar levels healthy as we age, but also to address postprandial glucose spikes and undesirable insulin response.
--Mohamed Rafi, Ph.D.
- International Diabetes Federation, Facts and Figures, accessed July 16, 2014, http://www.idf.org/worlddiabetesday/toolkit/gp/facts-figures.
- High blood sugar, diabetes and your body. http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/how-sugar-affects-diabetes
- Heacock, P.M., Hertzler, S.R., Williams, J.A., Wolf, B.W., 2005. “Effects of a medical food containing an herbal alpha-glucosidase inhibitor on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia in healthy adults.” J. Am. Diet Assoc. 105, 65-71.
- Williams, J., Choe, Y.S., Noss, M.J., Baumgartner, C.J., Mustad, V.A., 2007. “Extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia in patients with type-2 diabetes.” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 86, 124-30.
- Rafi, MM. “Salsulin™: An herbal extract for glucose metabolism.” http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Product-innovations/Salsulin-an-extract-for-blood-glucose-metabolism?source=1