With blood sugar issues being such a widespread issue in modern society, let’s focus on some specific nutrients to help support pancreatic health and healthy blood sugar. Nutrients are outlined below.
It is good practice to get advice from a natural health professional to find out which nutrients suit best.
Causes contributing to blood sugar problems
Blood sugar issues can arise from different causes including:
- Dysfunction within insulin-producing cells of the pancreas
- Deficiency of nutrients, especially magnesium, zinc and chromium
- Diet-related causes, for example, a diet excessive in simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, white rice, sweets) or excessive calories
- Lifestyle causes, for example, chronic stress, sleep deprivation or shift work
- Pregnancy-related blood sugar imbalances
- Genetic causes
Risk factors contributing to blood sugar problems
Blood sugar imbalances can also develop in response to an imbalance in the body’s self-regulating systems. There are early warning markers that indicate that the risk for developing blood sugar problems may be higher:
- Being overweight
- fluctuating blood sugar levels – feeling shaky and lightheaded a couple of hours after eating; experiencing fatigue and low energy despite sleeping enough and eating well; problems to concentrate; sweating; irritability; blurred vision; nausea.
- the cluster of symptoms called Metabolic Syndrome X: increased blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, high blood sugar levels and abnormal blood fat levels.
- Scientific studies have identified that infants who are exposed to cow’s milk during their first three months of life have a significantly increased risk of developing blood sugar issues in adolescence. Proteins in cow’s milk can cause health problems due to malabsorption in the gut and antibody production creating heightened immune sensitivity. This may cause damage to cells and their function, including cells and processes needed for blood sugar metabolism.
Top nutrients to help with blood sugar balance:
- Chromium– can help to support healthy blood glucose levels. This mineral is excreted from the body faster when blood glucose is high. If this happens long term it might deplete chromium resources in the body faster than they can be taken in via foods. Chromium is used by the liver to produce Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), supporting the normal function of insulin. Research studies show intervention with chromium supplements to support healthy blood sugar metabolism is helpful in all causes of blood sugar problems. Foods high in chromium include shellfish, pears, brazil nuts, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, whole grains, brewer’s yeast.
- Alpha Lipoic acid, known as the ‘universal’ antioxidant, also helps to support healthy insulin sensitivity and activates an enzyme involved in insulin metabolism, supporting normal blood sugar balance. Erratic blood sugar states also produce oxidative stress and antioxidants are strongly indicated to help the body to deal with free radicals.
- Seleniumand Vitamin E (preferably a tocopherol complex). Low selenium levels are a common factor in blood sugar imbalances and Vitamin E supports insulin activity as well as being an important antioxidant.
- Omega 3 fatty acids may support insulin action by helping healthy function of cell membranes. It works particularly well in conjunction with Vitamin E.
- Magnesium is needed to for healthy blood glucose metabolism. Research has shown a clear link between sufficient magnesium levels and more balanced blood sugar metabolism.
- Zinc also supports function of insulin.
- Fibre helps to balance the glycaemic effect when combined with food because it slows the absorption of sugar into the blood. Including plenty of fibre-rich wholefoods, for example, complex carbohydrates, or fibres like psyllium husks, soaked linseed or chia seeds and plenty of vegetables, in your daily diet supports healthy glycaemic function.