Keep your blood glucose level in check
MALAYSIAN meals such as rice, noodles, roti canai and cakes comprise mainly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. When ingested, they are broken down into glucose and enter the bloodstream from the digestive tract, increasing the blood glucose level.
Under healthy conditions, the pancreas will release a hormone called insulin to help cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. Once glucose moves out of the blood into the cells, the blood glucose level decreases.
The problem with Malaysians is that their carbohydrate intake is higher than the recommended amount.
According to the Malaysian Adult Nutrition Survey 2003, Malaysian adults consumed an average of 21g of table sugar daily.
Despite the Health Ministry calling for people to reduce overweight problems, sugar intake and smoking, live healthy and active lifestyles, and consume healthier diets with fewer fats and more fruits and vegetables, the number of diabetics in Malaysia keeps increasing.
Sedentariness and poor lifestyle choices can impact diabetes management. When diabetes is uncontrolled, it can lead to numerous health complications such as arteriosclerosis, retinopathy and neuropathy.
As a diabetic, besides eating healthily and exercising regularly, nutritional supplements can play a role in helping you manage your blood glucose level.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
ALA is an antioxidant that can help control blood glucose levels and prevent premature ageing. Antioxidants come in two varieties: water-soluble and fat-soluble.
A few, such as ALA, are both. This dual nature allows ALA to work throughout the body and protect it from damage caused by free radicals. This ability is the reason alpha lipoic acid is called the universal antioxidant.
In Germany, alpha lipoic acid is approved for the treatment of diabetic neuropathic pain.
Chromium picolinate and biotin
Chromium is another nutrient that may help maintain normal blood glucose levels. It is an essential trace mineral required for carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. The body cannot make chromium. It must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
Unfortunately, nutritional chromium, which is found in minute quantities in food such as organ meat, oysters, mushrooms and broccoli, is poorly absorbed by the intestinal tract.
One way to maintain sufficient blood chromium levels is through supplementation with chromium picolinate. Unlike other forms of chromium, chromium picolinate has a stable chemical structure and good absorption. Chromium picolinate can have positive effects in diabetes management.
Biotin, on the other hand, is a watersoluble B vitamin that plays an essential role in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Biotin can stimulate insulin secretion, hepatic glucose uptake and suppression of glucose synthesis in the presence of high-plasma glucose, as in the cases of prediabetes and diabetes.
Besides helping you manage high blood glucose levels, a combination of chromium picolinate and biotin may help bring down levels of haemoglobin A1c – the advanced glycation end product associated with long-term exposure to elevated sugar concentrations.
According to data from the Food and Agricultural Association, sugar consumption in Malaysia is one of the highest in the world.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes and increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, among others.
Therefore, in addition to reducing our sugar intake and leading healthy lifestyles, supplementation may help us manage our blood glucose levels better.
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In some cases, supplementation and reducing sugar intake can help diabetics manage blood glucose levels better.