The truth on supplements in diabetes
Many people turn to supplements and natural remedies to help manage their condition but are they any good? Could they in fact be harmful? We often assume natural means better and we like the idea of putting less chemicals in our body. There can also be cultural reasons for the use of natural remedies over prescribed medicines. This blog will provide a quick summary of the evidence in relation to some of the popular choices.
There is limited evidence to support the use of Cassia cinnamon in type 2 diabetes. It did not result in a significant reduction to blood sugar (based on HbA1c reduction >5mmol/mol) over a 3-month period or longer. There was very limited improvement to blood sugar control in teenagers with type 1 diabetes. The same is true for bitter melon which also did not show a notable improvement to blood sugar control.
For fenugreek, some studies showed a slight improvement to blood sugar and blood fat (lipid) control. Some studies however found no beneficial change so more research is needed to confirm this effect. The same is also true for magnesium and zinc supplementation which showed mixed results.
This provides just a snippet of the evidence out there but unfortunately the same can be said for many of the other supplements that you hear of. Supplements and natural remedies should not ever replace your prescribed medications. They are not effective substitutes so you could put your health at risk. If you are taking a supplement, then ensure to let your healthcare professional know so they can check for any interactions with your medications.
Many of the supplements sold in shops have not been tested and are not regulated. For this reason, they can actually carry more risk than your prescribed medications. More evidence and testing are needed to see in future if certain supplements can be recommended as a treatment option.
A healthy diet and regular exercise remain a cornerstone in managing diabetes. There are many options out there for you which are discussed in another blog.
For more advice on this topic, get in touch!
References - PEN Nutrition and Diabetes UK