(NaturalHealth365) Temporary rises in blood sugar after meals are normal. But researchers are finding that blood sugar “spikes,” in which glucose levels rise dramatically and stay elevated for several hours, are linked to increased risk of serious disease – and can raise your chances of a heart attack.
The good news: reducing your blood sugar levels after meals can help prevent age-related diseases, and reduce risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events. Read on to find out about the three natural substances that can help you do this – safely and naturally.
What are potential consequences of frequent blood sugar spikes?
After-meal – or postprandial – blood sugar spikes that persist for two hours are linked not only to the currently soaring rates of obesity and diabetes in the United States, but to cardiovascular disease rates and even premature death rates.
In one study, diabetic men with high after-meal blood sugar levels were two times more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, than men whose levels were lower. As disturbing as the doubled risk for men was, diabetic women in the study with high postprandial levels fared far worse. Their risk was a shocking 5.5 times that of women with lower blood sugar levels.
The condition of having normal fasting glucose, but blood sugar that remains excessively high two hours after a meal, is called “impaired glucose tolerance.” Recent research showed that people with impaired glucose tolerance had a 34 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Why do blood sugar spikes affect the heart?
Glucose, or blood sugar, oxidizes and damages linings in major coronary arteries. It also disrupts production of nitric oxide – needed to regulate the dilation and contraction of arteries that supply the heart with blood. Finally, glucose raises the level of adhesion molecules, which contribute to arterial disease and the associated narrowing of the arteries.
To be clear: reduced blood flow to the heart raises your risk of cardiovascular disease – and of dying from it. But don’t expect to hear too much about the dangers of glucose surges from a conventionally-trained doctor.
Mainstream medicine doesn’t fully recognize the risks of blood sugar spikes
Warning: the values accepted by mainstream medicine as “normal” can actually be hazardous – particularly to your brain.
In one study, researchers found that “high normal” blood sugar values caused decreased brain volume, with shrinkage occurring in the hippocampus and amygdala – which are involved with memory and other critical cognitive functions.
Incidentally, these “high normal” values were below 110 mg/dL – the World Health Organization’s threshold for “prediabetes.” Yet they still had a negative impact on brain size.
As if the risk of heart disease and brain shrinkage weren’t enough, elevated glucose after meals is also associated with an increased risk of dementia, cancer and accelerated aging. Fortunately, there are three natural therapies that can regulate blood sugar, helping to suppress dangerous surges.
Control blood sugar with herbal remedies like, mulberry leaf extract
Mulberry leaf extract contains extremely high levels of antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins. Studies have confirmed its ability to regulate glucose metabolism, thereby lowering the levels of excess blood sugar. An active constituent in mulberry leaf called 1-deoxynojirimycin – DNJ for short – binds to an enzyme which converts starches into glucose, helping it pass through the intestine rather than being absorbed as sugar.
In a clinical study published in Clinica Chimica Acta, the International Journal of Clinical Chemistry, mulberry leaf extract dramatically outperformed the anti-diabetic drug glyburide, lowering blood sugar in participants with type II diabetes by 27 percent to glyburide’s 8 percent – all without negative side effects.
In contrast, anti-diabetic drugs such as glyburin and metformin may feature side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, blood disorders and liver disease.
Get an assist from an apple-based polyphenol
Phloridzin, a compound found in concentrated amounts in apple skins, also lowers glucose and insulin levels, and can decrease post-meal blood sugar levels. Human and animal studies show that phloridzin substantially reduces glucose absorption by the intestines. In a 2016 animal study, phloridzin reduced measurements of inflammation, obesity and high blood sugar, and helped to prevent insulin resistance.
Phloridzin has also intrigued researchers with its ability to suppress appetite, decrease food consumption and promote weight loss in animals. Research on its ability to do the same for humans is ongoing.
Fight surging glucose with sorghum
Sorghum, a type of tropic and subtropical grain, is a functional food that has been found to control both glucose and insulin levels. Rich in tannins and enzymes that inhibit the absorption of starch, sorghum improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the production of sugar in the liver.
A 2014 study published in Food and Function found that sorghum reduced after–meal glucose responses, especially at the 45-120-minute mark. In an animal study, sorghum reduced blood lipid levels, as well as blood sugar and insulin levels. Sorghum has also been found to lower hemoglobin A1c levels, which measure blood sugar levels over time.
These three natural, drug-free blood sugar regulators can work in concert with each other to help tame dangerous blood sugar spikes. Naturally, you should first discuss their use with a trusted, naturopathic doctor.
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