5 Supplements You Shouldn’t Take If You Have Diabetes, According To A Dietitian

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When it comes to managing diabetes, lifestyle plays a major role in managing your blood sugar and overall health. What you eat, how you move your body, your sleep patterns and stress levels are all factors that can affect your blood sugar. Even if you take medications to control your diabetes, they should be used in conjunction with a nutritious eating plan and physical activity. But what about supplements? Is it safe and effective?

Dietary supplements aim to fill nutrient gaps when you cannot meet your needs through food alone or if you are deficient. Since dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it is important to take them with care. Always look for third-party certification to make sure what they say is really in it and never start a supplement without the supervision of a registered dietitian or medical practitioner. Supplements can be expensive and if not taken carefully they can cause harm, especially if you are taking certain medications or have other health conditions.

The five supplements you should not take if you have diabetes

There are different types of diabetes and different treatment options for each type, so it is difficult to generalize about supplements that not all diabetics should take. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to talk to a health professional. All that said, here are five supplements you may want to reconsider if you have diabetes, as they may interfere with certain medications, disrupt blood sugar levels, or cause unwanted side effects.

1. Chromium

Chromium is a mineral found in a number of foods, such as meat, vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. Chromium deficiency may cause your blood sugar to rise. However, deficiency is very rare. If you have diabetes and take insulin or other oral medications intended to lower blood sugar, taking chromium may increase your risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

The American Diabetes Association warns anyone with kidney disease not to take chromium because the supplement can worsen kidney disease. Chromium supplements may also interfere with levothyroxine (A medication commonly used to treat hypothyroidism).

2. bitter melon

Bitter melon is an herbal supplement that has been studied for its use in reducing blood sugar in people with diabetes. It is believed that its components – charantin, vicine and polypeptide-p – have a similar structure to insulin (the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar).

In a systematic review and meta-analysis in natureHowever, researchers found that data on bitter melon supplements remains inconsistent. The studies that have been done are short, and doses of bitter melon vary. More research is needed to determine long-term effects and safety. In addition, if you are prone to low blood sugar, bitter bitter melon may increase your risk of low blood sugar and may not be suitable for you.

3. Green tea extract

Drinking green tea has been shown to provide benefits for people with diabetes. For example, in a meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials published in American Journal of Clinical NutritionResearchers found that drinking green tea had positive effects, such as lower fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1C (three-month average blood sugar). However, there is little research on green tea supplement effectiveness outside of animal studies, and most studies have been very short in duration. Therefore, it may not be necessary to take additional supplements other than drinking green tea.

4. St. John’s wort

More research is needed on the use of St. John’s wort and diabetes, given its potential effects on diabetes medications, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion. One small study in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, which evaluated the use of St. John’s wort and metformin in 20 healthy male subjects, found that taking it with metformin can increase insulin secretion and lower blood sugar after a glucose tolerance test. However, another very small study including 10 healthy males found that there were no changes in insulin sensitivity when taking St. John’s wort alone. Instead, the researchers noticed a decrease in insulin secretion, which can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels.

These very small studies had conflicting results and did not include diverse populations or people with diabetes or have a long enough period to examine long-term effects. Therefore, more studies are needed to explore drug-herb interactions, as well as the insulin-releasing effects of St. John’s wort.

Additionally, if you have diabetes and heart disease and take blood-thinning medications, the ADA recommends avoiding St. John’s wort, as it can increase bleeding.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help fight oxidative stress, a precursor and contributor to type 2 diabetes. But, vitamin E can interact with blood thinners and increase the risk of bleeding by blocking the clotting effects of vitamin K. Therefore, unsupervised supplementation is not recommended if you have diabetes and are taking blood thinners.

Tips for eating healthy if you have diabetes

Before spending tons of money on supplements that may not work or could cause harm, focus on making simple but sustainable changes in the diet. Whole foods contain a variety of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Aim to increase your intake of plants — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds — which are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats.

Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrates that can help reduce blood sugar spikes because it is metabolized slowly. A simple way to eat more fiber is to eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal, make half of your grains whole grains, and add one serving of unsalted nuts each day. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day. If you are not used to eating foods that contain fiber, increase your intake slowly and drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk of stomach discomfort, such as gas.

When eating carbohydrates (grains, potatoes, beans, and corn), pair them with non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Not only will this nutritional blend provide satiating power, but it will also help you increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and proteins. A simple yet effective strategy is to use the plate method. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth with lean protein, and the other quarter with complex carbohydrates. For example, roast chicken with sauteed broccoli and baked sweet potatoes is a balanced and filling meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there over-the-counter treatments for diabetes?

It is very important not to substitute medical treatment for over-the-counter products that claim to treat diabetes. Diabetes treatment is ongoing and requires daily self-management of diabetes mellitus. Lifestyle changes, such as eating a nutritious diet, losing weight (when indicated), being physically active, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress can help you manage your diabetes. Unfortunately, there is no supplement that will cure you.

2. What nutritional supplements may help with diabetes?

If you are deficient in a vitamin, you may benefit from supplementation. And if you have diabetes complications, certain supplements — including vitamin D, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics — may help relieve symptoms or delay the development of diabetes-related complications.

Vitamin DLow levels of vitamin D are associated with the development of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. Low vitamin D levels are also associated with an increased risk of foot ulcers and other infections, feeling depressed and poor bone health, to name a few. Some studies suggest that, in people who are deficient, taking vitamin D and calcium supplements may help improve blood sugar control. It is important for all people with diabetes to evaluate their vitamin D status with their healthcare provider to determine if supplementation is needed.

B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acidsPeople with diabetes, especially those taking metformin, may be at greater risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. Metformin can reduce vitamin B12 absorption as well as blood concentrations. B12 deficiency and insufficiency are associated with neuropathy, so evaluation of B12 status is important. If levels are low, supplementation may be recommended. If you have complications from diabetes, such as neuropathy (nerve damage), you may want to discuss with your doctor about using B vitamins or fish oil to treat pain and prevent progression of the disease. Animal studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is beneficial, but more research is needed.

probioticsThere is increasing evidence supporting the use of probiotics in gut health, diabetes, and glycemic control. Some studies have shown that the use of probiotics such as yogurt, fermented baked milk, and capsules had a beneficial effect on blood sugar control. Keep in mind that different strains of probiotics have different functions, and that your diet patterns, along with the number of CFUs you eat, can also have an effect. If you want to take a supplement, be sure to talk to a professional. The best place to start increasing your probiotic intake is by adding some fermented foods to your diet; Try yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso.

bottom line

While supplements can serve a purpose when you need to fill nutrient gaps or when you are deficient, they are not always safe, and many times we do not know their long-term effects. Therefore, before you spend money on supplements, take a look at your lifestyle. The foods first approach is a safer, more affordable and more realistic way to prevent and manage diabetes. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean protein can help you control your blood sugar and inflammation (another major factor in diabetes).

If you have diabetes, or are caring for someone, and don’t know where to start, see a registered dietitian or a certified diabetes care and education professional. Before taking any supplement, discuss it with your healthcare provider.

5 Supplements You Shouldn’t Take If You Have Diabetes, According To A Dietitian

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