Regulation of blood glucose is mainly done through the endocrine hormones of the pancreas. The main hormones of the pancreas that affect blood glucose are insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and amylin. It is important to keep your blood glucose levels in the target range to help prevent health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, vision loss, stroke and kidney disease. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is important, especially if you have diabetes. Following a healthy diet, which includes reducing sugar intake, increasing lean sources of protein (chicken and fish), increasing plant proteins (beans, lentils and chickpeas), increasing wholegrain/wholewheat products and having a variety of fruits and vegetables plays an important role in blood glucose control. Certain supplements contain higher quantities of nutrients that help lower blood glucose levels and are a useful addition to dietary intervention.
Keeping your blood sugar levels in the target range is important to help prevent or delay health problems (heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease). It also helps to improve energy levels and mood. Your blood sugar targets may differ depending on your age, additional health problems and medication taken.
Aim to reach the following targets: before a meal: 4-7mmol/L and 2 hours after the start of a meal: 5-10mmol/L.
A blood sugar meter (glucometer) or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is used to monitor your blood sugar level. A glucometer measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood and CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. It is still important to test your blood sugar level with a glucometer, while using CGM, to ensure accuracy of the CGM readings.
HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) is a blood test used to help diagnose and monitor people with diabetes. It is a test that calculates the average glucose over a three month period.
Diabetes mellitus, also known as diabetes, is a chronic condition characterised by increased levels of blood glucose. Diabetes type 2 (usually in adults) is the most common type of diabetes. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or not enough insulin is produced from the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes (juvenile or insulin-dependent) is a condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
Insulin is a hormone (made by the pancreas) which helps to regulate blood sugar levels by assisting with glucose uptake into the cells so it can be used for energy. It also signals the liver to store blood glucose for later use.
Insulin sensitivity is when the body cells (in muscles, fat and liver) are more effective at absorbing blood sugar so less insulin is needed while insulin resistance is when the body cells don’t respond well to insulin and are unable to easily absorb glucose from the blood.
Many people make health decisions based on generalised recommendations without ever truly understanding their bodies. A genetic test provides you with valuable insights into individual priority areas that should be considered for successful and sustained health outcomes. We now know that your genes don't work in isolation. Your genes work with each other, and within the environment of your body. Their functioning can be improved with your daily choices of dietary intake and exercise, as well as your living environment and stress levels. Personalised recommendations using this holistic approach to health gives insight into improving your long term health outcomes and potentially enabling both better prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Oat Bran made from oats is high in oat beta-glucan, which is a soluble dietary fibre. This type of fibre may prevent blood glucose spikes and control blood glucose levels effectively.
Berberine is the main active component of an ancient Chinese herb (Coptis chinensis French). It is known as a potent AMPK (adenosine monophosphate protein kinase) activator, which plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels. Bioavailability of berberine is often compromised due to influences of the gut microbiome and missed doses from required frequency of use, therefore taking berberine in a liposomal or bioavailable form will help to overcome this challenge.
Chromium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in the regulation of insulin action and its effects on carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. Studies have shown that chromium picolinate supplementation reduces insulin resistance and helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found mainly in food sources such as grapefruit, onion and berries. Quercetin has been shown to have similar effects to that of metformin. This nutrient stimulates cellular glucose uptake and decreases hyperglycaemia.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that plays a role in normal bone development and bone maintenance by increasing the absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Vitamin D deficiency is very common due to lifestyles that limit the duration of sunlight exposure or reduced dietary intake of vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish (salmon, sardines,herring and mackerel), red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods (breakfast cereals and fat spreads). Vitamin D deficiency is associated with insulin resistance and decreased insulin release. Studies have shown an association between low serum vitamin D3 concentration and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium is an essential mineral found in the body. It is present in many foods (wholegrains, dark, leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts) and also as a dietary supplement. Magnesium serves as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, which include those responsible for blood pressure, glycemic control and the degradation of lipids. A low intake of magnesium containing foods predisposes a higher prevalence of magnesium deficiency, which has been related to the development of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorder.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organic form of sulphur which can improve various metabolic diseases when used as a dietary supplement. It has been shown that treatment with MSM leads to a significant decrease in blood glucose levels.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a precursor of L-cysteine and a powerful antioxidant. NAC may stabilise blood sugar levels by decreasing inflammation in fat cells, therefore improving insulin resistance. NAC is used as a dietary supplement and all concentrations were found to improve glucose tolerance. 1200mg/kg/day of NAC was shown to be the most effective dose.
Inositol is a carbohydrate that influences the body’s insulin response. Studies have shown that supplementation may be effective in lowering both fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels. The two forms of inositol, Myoinositol and D-Chiro inositol were found to have insulin-like properties and are involved in increasing insulin sensitivity of different tissues to improve metabolic functions.
Cinnamon is a spice derived from tree bark. Results from studies have shown that cassia cinnamon (cinnamon bark) improves blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon supplementation has been shown to slow down stomach emptying and significantly reduces hyperglycemia after meals without affecting satiety.
Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is a powerful antioxidant which is abundant in green tea. Studies have shown that EGCG significantly improves glycemic control and insulin sensitivity and may lower insulin requirement.
Gymnema Sylvestre is a medicinal plant with potent anti diabetic properties. Gymnemic acid molecules assist with the delay of glucose absorption in the blood, therefore lowering blood glucose levels. Adverse effects of Gymnema leaf extract include a laxative and diuretic effect.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant involved in energy metabolism. ALA has been used as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy as it improves blood vessel circulation to the nerves.