Just as food can lead to high blood sugar and diabetes, it appears food can also help manage blood sugar levels as a recent study on ginger found. A recent University of Sydney study, ginger, a common spice and an Asian remedy used for centuries, just might help manage the high glucose levels that lead to the long-term complications that diabetics hope to avoid.
The research, led by Professor of pharmaceutical chemistry Basil Roufogalis, involved extracting whole ginger roots and the uptake of glucose in the muscle cells. In type 2 diabetes, the ability of the skeletal muscle cells to bring in circulating glucose is markedly impaired because of a defect in the insulin signal transduction and the inefficiency of the protein GLUT4.
In non-diabetics, blood glucose levels are strictly maintained within a narrow range because of the major glucose clearance that is done by the skeletal muscles.
The ginger extracts were able to increase the uptake of blood glucose into the muscle cells, and thus reduce the blood sugar levels. This occurred independently of insulin.
The fraction of the ginger responsible for the improved glucose uptake were the gingerols. The gingerols increased the uptake of glucose by increasing the cell surface distribution of GLUT4 protein. When the protein settles on the surface of the skeletal muscle cells, it allows the transport of the blood glucose into the cells.
Other Foods That May Help Control Blood Sugar
Other foods such as coffee and cinnamon have been found to help reduce the risk of diabetes or improve the levels of blood sugar. According to an article on Webmd.com, some of these foods are:
- Green beans
- Salmon and lean meats
Oatmeal and barley are high in soluble fiber which makes them slower to digest and slower to cause a spike in your blood sugar level. The oatmeal must be the unsweetened variety so avoid the individuals packages which can contain a lot of sugar.
Spinach, broccoli, green beans and other non-starchy vegetables are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. This makes them ideal for those with type 2 diabetes. While you don’t need to totally eliminate those starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes from your diet, eating less of them will help you manage your blood sugar levels.
Salmon and other lean meats are, of course, protein and not carbs, so they do not affect your blood sugar as much. Meat is a source of chromium which is a mineral that helps insulin to work properly. Chromium also helps your body metabolize carbohydrates, keeping your blood sugar in check.
As always, it is important not to load up on any one food but rather to eat a balanced diet for overall health. In addition, avoid thinking that you can offset the effects of a candy bar by eating a serving of spinach!
The Australian study on the effects of ginger on controlling high blood sugar was published in the eleventh issue of Planta Medica.