Control Of Diabetes With Simple Food Choices

Diabetes Prevention

It is the most prevalent of metabolic disease in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that roughly 34 million Americans have diabetes, which is about one in every ten people. And that is just of the people we know of. One in five don’t know they have diabetes. If that wasn’t morbid enough, more than one in three adults have pre-diabetes. It is interesting to note that according to the CDC, type 1 diabetes only accounts for 5-10% of diagnosed adults and type 2 is a whopping 90-95%.(1)

That’s the reality. The good news is hope is not lost. A solid understanding of diabetes will help us to know how we can manage diabetes with diet and lifestyle changes.

First off, what is it?

Diabetes is a chronic disorder of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism where the body stops producing insulin (type 1) or doesn’t use the insulin available as energy (type 2). When food is consumed, it’s digested and broken down into glucose and then released into your blood stream. As blood sugar goes up, the pancreas releases insulin to regulate the blood sugar to be used by your body’s cells for energy. When left unchecked, blood sugar reaches toxic levels and result in damage in many organs and tissues.


Obesity is a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes, though we can add genetic and environmental factors in as well. Obesity makes it difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar, so overproducing insulin is how the body compensates. Nutritional deficiency and lack of physical activity or exercise also become contributing factors.

If 90% of adults have type 2 diabetes, how do we being to turn this around? The first thing we can do is start getting active before it progresses. Start small. The journey to health starts with that first step.

Next we need to address nutrition. Your food gives your body the vitality it needs to build blood, generate cells, and fight off infection. We must avoid the processed foods, refined sugars, and fat. Replace it with wholesome, nourishing foods, cereal grains, legumes, and root vegetables. Aim to have 50% fruits and vegetables in your diet. With a better awareness we can take charge of our own health to live happy and fulfilling lives and not be bogged down by an illness that drains your retirement account.

Herb and Food Options:

Oatmeal (Avena sativa):
1/4 – 1/2c in the morning

Oats have been shown to significantly reduce the total and LDL cholesterol level in adults without changing HDL cholesterol. In managing type 2 diabetes, it balances blood sugar, and decreases the need for a spike in insulin.(2) The quality of soluble fiber helps to keep you full for longer thereby reducing the need for unnecessary snacking.

Use in casseroles, stuffings, porridge, muesli, granola.

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia):
Eat cooked with meals, 5-10g per day of powder

Bitter melon, as its name implies, is indeed bitter and comes with many benefits. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda as a diabetes remedy throughout Asia. At first glance it resembles a bumpy cucumber or a green gourd that we would typically see in Autumn. It is anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and detoxifying.

It contains charatin, the polypeptide that works as an effective hypoglycemic by helping to secrete pancreatic insulin. It encourages proper pancreatic function by stimulating the metabolizing of fats and sugars efficiently. (3) 

Look for bitter melon in Asian markets and farmer’s markets. Prepare fresh by removing inner seeds and core. Blanching can reduce some of the bitterness if you’re sensitive. Use in stir fry, stewed, stuffed, or made into curry and chutneys.

Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum):
1-3 tbsp per day

Flaxseed is a very rich source of fiber, aiding in removing waste from the colon.

Flax seeds contain up to 40% oil from linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids which help to do various things such as strengthen immunity and clear the arteries and heart. The high fatty acid content are the building blocks that your brain, nerves, retina, and adrenal glands need.

Overall, it is a grain that packs in a lot of benefits with dense caloric content and nutrition. We should mention the rich source of soluble and insoluble fiber which has been shown to reduce blood sugar and promotes healthy bowel movements.

Flaxseed is inexpensive. Purchase in bulk from a natural food store. Add it to baked goods along with oats in granola, crackers, and whole grain breads.

Garlic (Allium sativum):
3-6 cloves fresh with food

Garlic, most people love it. It adds great flavor, fights infection, wards off vampires.

Considered to be a “super-food,” garlic has come to be effective in a broad range of conditions. It helps to improve digestive function, stimulate metabolism, and it’s antibacterial properties have been used in treating Candida albicans. 

Garlic’s heating energy lends itself to improving circulation, having a stimulating effect on circulation thereby warming the whole body. It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, as evident in a 1999 study done in India that showed garlic given to diabetic mice caused a significant progressive reduction in serum glucose levels.(4)

Garlic is readily available at any grocery store. Get bulbs that are plump and firm. When sautéing, be sure not to brown the garlic as it will become bitter. When it comes to garlic, go crazy, and see what you come up with.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia):

Cinnamon has traditional use in Ayurveda to aid in digestion helping to dispel flatulence and colic. Its anti-fungal activity is likely due its essential oil content that can be used in Candida albicans and balancing intestinal flora. 

A 2010 study showed improved metabolic syndrome variables in “in vitro, animal, and/or human studies.” The subjects all showed beneficial effects of whole cinnamon in combination or as an aqueous extract on glucose, insulin, insulin sensitivity, lipids, antioxidant status, blood pressure, lean body mass, and gastric emptying.(5) 

In a review of clinical trials that evaluated the experimental evidence for cinnamon in improving glycemic targets concluded that it was a potential useful add-on therapy in managing type 2 diabetes.(6)

Available in powder and whole sticks. Powders can be easily added to recipes. The whole form can be used in teas and other beverages by cooking in liquid for 10-20 minutes. Simply bring to a boil for 5 minutes and reduce to simmer for the remaining time. Keep covered. You can also sauté it with other spices until it unrolls and then cook the main ingredients.

Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa):

Kutki is a very bitter, cold, and detoxifying herb. Bitters are generally known to be supportive of digestive function which makes it a good option in liver therapy. This bitter root grows in the freezing climate of the Himalayas, which is almost indicative of its cooling properties.

Kutki contains properties that aid digestive secretions which in turn stimulate pancreatic insulin secretion.(7) Kutki aids the liver in storing blood sugar in the form of glycogen which gets stored for later use when your body needs it. Glycogen keeps blood glucose levels balanced by storing it when levels are high, or releasing glucose when the levels begin to fall. This is an important role in the management of diabetes.

Kutki is a medicinal Ayurvedic herb that comes in powder form from online retailers. Caution should be taken in doses higher than 2 grams as it can be bowel purging.


Natural healing offers many options in the management of Diabetes mellitus. We must remember that what we put in our bodies matters. Exercise, nutrition, low stress, good relationships empower us to live healthy, joyful lives.


  2. Högberg, L et al. “Oats to children with newly diagnosed coeliac disease: a randomised double blind study.” Gut vol. 53,5 (2004): 649-54. doi:10.1136/gut.2003.026948
    kumar GR, Reddy KP Reduced nociceptive responses in mice with alloxan induced hyperglycemia after garlic (Allium sativum Linn.). J Antimicrob Chemother 1993
  7. Joy KL, Kuttan R. Anti-diabetic activity of Picrorrhiza kurroa extract. J Ethnopharmacol, 1999 Nov 1; 67(2): 143-8

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