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How To Manage Diabetes Naturally Without Medications?

Ayurveda recommends limiting foods high in saturated fats while consuming more of healthy or unsaturated fats. Ayurveda also emphasis the need to maintain healthy weight, getting quality sleep, managing your stress, staying hydrated, and consuming spices like fenugreek, garlic, turmeric, etc. to manage diabetes naturally.

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Diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood sugar. Normally, a hormone known as insulin moves sugar (or glucose) out of your bloodstream into cells when it’s used for energy. However, in people who are diabetic this process doesn’t work properly either because there’s insufficient insulin or because the insulin doesn’t function effectively. There are 3 kinds of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes: where the cells that produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system
  • Type 2 diabetes: where adequate insulin is not produced or your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin
  • Gestational diabetes: some women may experience high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes

Additionally, many people suffer from prediabetes, a condition where they have abnormally high blood sugar but it’s not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetes.[1][ Diabetes]. National Health Service.

In ayurveda, diabetes is known as “madhumeha”. It is considered to be one of 20 urinary disorders (prameha). The following factors are thought to contribute to its development:

  • Sahaja (hereditary): Some cases of diabetes are thought to be caused by genetic factors.
  • Apathyanimittaja (acquired): Improper dietary habits and lifestyle can lead to the development of diabetes.

Shodhana (purification) and shamana (suppression) therapies may be carried out under the supervision of your ayurvedic doctor to treat this condition.[2]Purkait, Pulakes, and Moumita Bhattacharya. “Prameha and its Ancient Ayurvedic Medicine in India.” GUIDELINES FOR THE CONTRIBUTORS (2012): 638. However, there are also some measures that you can take at home which can help you manage this condition better.

8 Home Remedies To Manage Diabetes

1. Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet

Having a healthy balanced diet is important for dealing with diabetes. This means including foods from all food groups – vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, low or nonfat dairy – in your diet. You should also limit foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and added sugar.[3][Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity]. National Institutes of Health. According to ayurveda, a diet including the following foods can be helpful for people with diabetes:

  • Cereals: Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is considered to be particularly beneficial. Wheat, and old rice (purana shali) are also thought to be good choices.
  • Pulses: Mudga (Vignaradiata Greengram), Kulattha (Dolichos biflorus), Chanaka (Cicer arietinum Linn.), Adhaki (Cajanus cajan) etc, are considered good options.
  • Vegetables: All kinds of bitter vegetables are considered beneficial for people dealing with high blood sugar. For example, Karela (Momordica charantia), Methi (Trigonella foenum-graecum), etc.
  • Fruits: Jambu (Syzygium cuini), Kapitta (Limonia acidissima), Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica), Tala phala (Borassus flabellifer), Kharjura (Phoenix sylvestris) etc. are allowed.
  • Meat: Harina mamsa (Deer), Shashaka mamsa (Rabbit), as well as birds like Kapotha, Titira are allowed for people with high blood sugar.[4]Srinivas, P., K. Prameela Devi, and B. Shailaja. “Diabetes mellitus (madhumeha)-an ayurvedic review.” Int J Pharm Pharm Sci 6, no. Suppl 1 (2014): 107-110.
2. Opt For Healthy Fats

Fatty foods contribute a lot of calories, therefore, they should be consumed in moderation. But do include foods that provide heart healthy unsaturated fats in your diet. These include:

  • Sunflower, olive, safflower, cottonseed, and canola oils. Ayurveda advocates mustard oil for those with high blood sugar.[5]Srinivas, P., K. Prameela Devi, and B. Shailaja. “Diabetes mellitus (madhumeha)-an ayurvedic review.” Int J Pharm Pharm Sci 6, no. Suppl 1 (2014): 107-110.
  • Fatty fish, such as mackerel, cod, salmon, sardines, and tuna.
  • Seeds and nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds etc.[6][Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control]. Mayo Clinic.
3. Keep To A Healthy Weight

Excess weight is a significant risk factor when it comes to type-2 diabetes. Being overweight increases your chances of developing type-2 diabetes by seven times while those who are obese have a 20 to 40 times higher risk of developing diabetes than someone who is at a healthy weight.[7][ Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes]. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Moreover, according to the American Diabetes Association, losing 7 to 10% of their body weight can help prevent the progression of this condition in people with prediabetes.
Diet and exercise are the two main building blocks of a weight loss plan. But don’t go for a fad diet that promises a quick fix. Set reasonable goals – such as losing around 1 to 2 pounds a week.[8][Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control](https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-prevention/art-20047639 “Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking … Continue reading An easy way of making sure that you have appropriate portions of different foods when you reduce calories is to adopt the plate method. Here you divide up a 9-inch plate into

  • ½ of the plate: for non-starchy vegetables
  • ¼ of the plate: for grains and other starches like peas or corn which are starchy veggies
  • ¼ of the plate: for meat or other protein

You can also have fruit and milk products as per your meal plan.[9][Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity]. National Institutes of Health.

4. Include Spices And Herbs That Fight Diabetes

Many spices and herbs commonly used in Indian cooking don’t just enhance flavor but also provide many health benefits. The following spices and herbs have anti-diabetic effects:

  • Fenugreek Seeds (Trigonella foenum graecum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)[10]Upasani, S. V., P. V. Ingle, P. H. Patil, R. Y. Nandedkar, V. S. Shah, and S. J. Surana. “Traditional Indian spices useful in Diabetes Mellitus–an updated review.” J. Pharm. BioSci 4 … Continue reading
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)[11]Verspohl, Eugen J., Katrin Bauer, and Eckhard Neddermann. “Antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum in vivo and in vitro.” Phytotherapy Research: An … Continue reading
Precautions:
  • These spices are typically safe to consume in amounts that are normally used in foods. However, it is best to check with your doctor before using them especially if you are on anti-diabetic medication or have low blood sugar, as they may cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low.
  • Consuming abnormally large amounts of spices may be harmful.
  • It is possible to be intolerant to or have an allergic reaction to a spice. If you’ve never used a spice before pay attention to any reaction you might have.[12][Can Spices Cause Allergic Reactions?]. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.
  • Spices can interact with medications and supplements. Your doctor will let you know if any medication or supplement you’re on interacts with spices.
  • These spices can impact bleeding or blood clotting. Speak to a doctor before you use them if you use blood thinners (anticoagulants) and inform your doctor that you use them if you’re scheduling a surgery.
  • Ginger and turmeric can increase the production of bile. So they may not be suitable for people with gallbladder disease or other biliary diseases.[13][Ginger].Verywell Fit.[14][Turmeric: potential adverse effects and interactions]. NHS,UK.
  • Cassia cinnamon contains a chemical known as coumarin which may harm the liver. The levels of this compound are usually not high enough to be harmful. However, long term use can be problematic for some people, for instance those with liver disease.[15][Cinnamon].National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. [16][Health Benefits of Cinnamon]. Verywell Fit. [17][fenugreek]. University of Michigan Health. [18][Garlic].National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.[19][Medications and Herbs That Affect Bleeding]. Stanford University School of Medicine.[20][The Health Benefits of Cumin]. Verywell Fit.
5. Get Sufficient Sleep

Over time, not getting sufficient sleep can raise your risk for not just type 2 diabetes but obesity, heart disease, and depression too. It’s also harder to manage your diabetes if you regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can:

  • Increase insulin resistance
  • Make you feel hungrier and less full after you eat
  • Make it more likely that you’ll have foods high in sugar and carbs
  • Make it tougher to lose weight.[21][Sleep for a Good Cause].Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, the following tips might help:

  • Try to stick to a regular bedtime and wake up time. This programmes your internal clock to work according to a routine.
  • Wind down and relax before bedtime by reading a book, listening to calming music or having a warm bath.
  • If you spend time in bed worrying about the next day’s tasks, then getting organized beforehand with a ‘to do’ list can help.
  • Avoid electronic devices like smartphones an hour before bedtime. Also avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, or colas, particularly in the evenings.[22][10 tips to beat insomnia].NHS,UK.
6. Stay Hydrated

Some research indicates that low daily total water intake is associated with diabetes. In fact, one study also found that just 3 days of low total water intake in people with type 2 diabetes acutely impaired their blood glucose response.[23]Johnson, Evan C., Costas N. Bardis, Lisa T. Jansen, J. D. Adams, Tracie W. Kirkland, and Stavros A. Kavouras. “Reduced water intake deteriorates glucose regulation in patients with type 2 … Continue readingExperts suggest that men need around 2.6 liters of fluids in a day while women need around 2 liters. You’ll need more (2.3 to 2.6 liters) if you’re pregnant or lactating.[24][Water – a vital nutrient]. Better Health Channel. Keep a water bottle at your desk so that you don’t forget to hydrate during the day.

7. Manage Stress

Stress can make it harder to stick to healthy habits such as eating right, exercising, and getting proper rest. This in turn can have an effect on your blood sugar levels. Moreover, hormones linked to stress can not only raise your blood sugar levels they can also increase your blood pressure and your heart rate.[25][Diabetes: Stress & Depression].Cleveland Clinic.Simple steps like planning ahead for stressful events or days, managing your time more effectively, practicing calming breathing exercises, and talking about your feelings with family, friends, or a professional can be helpful in managing stress.[26][Stress].NHS,UK.

8. Be Physically Active

If you are diabetic regular physical activity can make your body more sensitive to the hormone insulin and helps reduce your blood sugar. It also lowers your risk for nerve damage and heart disease.

Experts suggest that you should get two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity a week. This does not have to be a complicated routine as long as it makes you breathe harder. So walking fast, climbing stairs, strenuous housework, everything counts. Also include activities that work your major muscle groups (back, hips, legs, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) on 2 or more days in a week. Studies have also found that yoga – specifically asanas such as Dhanurasana, Ardhamatsayendrasana, Halasana, Vajrasana, Bhujangasana, Naukasana – can be helpful for people with diabetes.[27]Sahay, B. K. “Role of yoga in diabetes.” JAPI 55 (2007): 121-6.

If you’re sold on the benefits of physical activity but are finding it difficult to get started here are a few helpful tips:

  • Find an activity that you enjoy. It’s hard to stick to something that you think of as a chore. It’s much easier to regularly do something that you like.
  • Start small. If you’re not very active physically it’s difficult to suddenly start an intense workout program. Start with something small (say walking the dog or taking the stairs) and slowly work your way up to your desired level of activity.
  • Set a goal and get a partner. Set realistic but specific goals. It’s also helpful to schedule your physical activity so that it does not get lost in the long list of things that you have to do during the day. A regularly scheduled activity – such as a morning walk at 7 – soon becomes a habit.[28][Get Active!]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Precautions:
  • Make sure you have plenty of fluids so that you don’t get dehydrated while being physically active.
  • Check your blood sugar before you exercise (particularly if you use insulin). If it’s below 100 mg/dL you might need a small snack such as ½ a cup of fruit juice or 2 tablespoons of raisins so that your blood sugar doesn’t go too low. If it’s above 240 mg/dL, then your blood sugar may be too high for you to safely exercise. Also check your blood sugar levels after you exercise.
  • Check your feet for blisters, irritation, or injuries after you exercise. Speak to your doctor if any injury doesn’t start healing in a couple of days.[29][diabetes and exercise]. Diabetes UK.

How To Manage Diabetes When Pregnant?

Diabetes can have an impact on your pregnancy. Here are a few pointers for you to consider:

  • If you are diabetic and planning for a baby, you need to get your blood sugar levels under control before you get pregnant. This is because high blood sugar levels can be harmful for your baby during the first few weeks of your pregnancy before you even realize that you’re expecting.
  • Changes brought about by pregnancy can affect your blood sugar levels. Therefore, you might need to change your physical activity routine, meal plan, and even your diabetes medicine when you get pregnant. As you due date approaches your diabetes management plan might need to be modified again. Your doctor will help you chalk out a plan that’s appropriate for you.
  • Going for checkups before and during your pregnancy and keeping your blood sugar under control is important for a healthy pregnancy.[30][Pregnancy if You Have Diabetes]. National Institutes of Health.

How To Manage Gestational Diabetes?

Women can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Here are a few points to consider about this condition:

  • Though gestational diabetes can develop at any point during the pregnancy it’s more common during the 2nd or 3rd trimester.
  • In many cases gestational diabetes does not cause any symptoms and it’s only discovered when your blood sugar levels are tested. Your doctor will offer you a screening test if she determines that you’re at risk for this condition.
  • If you have gestational diabetes it’s important to bring your blood sugar levels under control. Your doctor may recommend changes to your diet and exercise regimen to achieve this. You may need medication as well. You may also need to be monitored more closely during your pregnancy to make sure there are no problems.[31][Gestational Diabetes].NHS,UK.

References

References
1 [ Diabetes]. National Health Service.
2 Purkait, Pulakes, and Moumita Bhattacharya. “Prameha and its Ancient Ayurvedic Medicine in India.” GUIDELINES FOR THE CONTRIBUTORS (2012): 638.
3, 9 [Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity]. National Institutes of Health.
4, 5 Srinivas, P., K. Prameela Devi, and B. Shailaja. “Diabetes mellitus (madhumeha)-an ayurvedic review.” Int J Pharm Pharm Sci 6, no. Suppl 1 (2014): 107-110.
6 [Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control]. Mayo Clinic.
7 [ Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes]. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
8 [Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control](https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-prevention/art-20047639 “Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control”). Mayo Clinic.
10 Upasani, S. V., P. V. Ingle, P. H. Patil, R. Y. Nandedkar, V. S. Shah, and S. J. Surana. “Traditional Indian spices useful in Diabetes Mellitus–an updated review.” J. Pharm. BioSci 4 (2013): 157-161.
11 Verspohl, Eugen J., Katrin Bauer, and Eckhard Neddermann. “Antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum in vivo and in vitro.” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives 19, no. 3 (2005): 203-206.
12 [Can Spices Cause Allergic Reactions?]. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.
13 [Ginger].Verywell Fit.
14 [Turmeric: potential adverse effects and interactions]. NHS,UK.
15 [Cinnamon].National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
16 [Health Benefits of Cinnamon]. Verywell Fit.
17 [fenugreek]. University of Michigan Health.
18 [Garlic].National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
19 [Medications and Herbs That Affect Bleeding]. Stanford University School of Medicine.
20 [The Health Benefits of Cumin]. Verywell Fit.
21 [Sleep for a Good Cause].Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
22 [10 tips to beat insomnia].NHS,UK.
23 Johnson, Evan C., Costas N. Bardis, Lisa T. Jansen, J. D. Adams, Tracie W. Kirkland, and Stavros A. Kavouras. “Reduced water intake deteriorates glucose regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes.” Nutrition research 43 (2017): 25-32.
24 [Water – a vital nutrient]. Better Health Channel.
25 [Diabetes: Stress & Depression].Cleveland Clinic.
26 [Stress].NHS,UK.
27 Sahay, B. K. “Role of yoga in diabetes.” JAPI 55 (2007): 121-6.
28 [Get Active!]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
29 [diabetes and exercise]. Diabetes UK.
30 [Pregnancy if You Have Diabetes]. National Institutes of Health.
31 [Gestational Diabetes].NHS,UK.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information pertaining to your personal needs please see a qualified health practitioner.

About the Author

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Dr. Aswathy E.S. (KAA Expert)

Dr. Aswathy has 10+ years of experience as an Ayurvedic consultant and medical officer in different nursing homes and hospitals. She has a deep knowledge of classical texts, Ayurvedic treatments, and Panchkarma. Dr. Aswathy is proficient in diagnosis through traditional Ayurvedic means and plans treatment that is specific to an individual’s constitution.

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