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August 06, 2021 12 min read

If you have hyperglycemia (i.e. elevated blood sugar); essentially your blood glucose levels are too high.

Elevated glucose levels are due to your body not producing enough insulin or not utilizing this hormone properly, and it can have a negative impact on your health as a whole, affecting everything from your vision to weight to heart health.

So it’s crucial for those with this condition to be able to manage their blood glucose levels and start implementing ways to improve their insulin sensitivity.

What is insulin sensitivity?

Every time you eat, your pancreas (an organ that regulates blood sugar) secretes insulin in response to high blood sugar, and cells (like muscle or fat cells) can absorb blood sugar when stimulated by insulin.

Insulin is often referred to as the 'key' that 'unlocks' the cell so it can absorb glucose.

Insulin sensitivity is the relationship between how much insulin needs to be produced in order to deposit a certain amount of glucose. You are insulin sensitive if a small amount of insulin needs to be secreted to deposit a certain amount of glucose, and insulin resistant if a lot of insulin needs to be secreted to deposit the same amount of glucose.

Insulin sensitivity is good, but insulin resistance is not.

In fact, insulin resistance is a major risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes. In basic terms, insulin resistance happens when cells cannot accept more glucose, therefore it is 'resisted' by the cell and forced back into the blood stream, where as a protective mechanism, your body stores it as fat. 

Scientists are testing many different supplements to determine if they help lower blood sugar. Such supplements could benefit people with prediabetes or diabetes — particularly type 2.

Keep in mind that these supplements are not meant to replace diabetes medications, but what they can do is serve as helpful complements to any blood sugar-lowering medications your healthcare provider has prescribed.

Supplements demonstrating potential to lower blood glucose

Bitter Melon: Bitter melon, or Momordica charantia, is a fruit that has been used for medicinal purposes in Chinese as well as Indian medicine for centuries. It is often used as an herbal remedy for diabetes because it contains active anti-diabetic substances which are said to lower blood glucose levels.

There are not a lot of conclusive studies reviewing the impact of bitter melon on lowering blood sugar levels, but a 2011 report does hypothesize that bitter melon capsules contain at least one ingredient for inhibitory activity against the production of a specific enzyme - 11β-HSD1, which is said to break down cortisone to the active form cortisol, leading to hyperglycemia. The authors theorize this inhibitory property might be why this fruit is said to possess anti-diabetic properties (1).

Mechanism of action: seems to have its effect by inhibiting production of an enzyme that breaks down cortisone to its active form, cortisol, which leads to hyperglycemia. 

Vanadium:Vanadium is a mineral that is not one of the essential mineral compounds, but is sometimes ingested in the diet. Vanadium is found in bone tissues and may influence glucose metabolism in an anti-diabetic manner.

Recent findings indicate that vanadium many enhance glucose uptake by preventing insulin receptor subtrate-1 (IRS-1) mass loss and IRS-1/PI 3-kinase complex decay and may offer a novel approach to enhance glucose transport in diabetes (2).

Mechanism of action: Evidence shows vanadyl sulfate works similar to insulin in lowering blood sugar levels. Vanadyl sulfate also improves the performance of insulin within the body

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is popular spice worldwide. It exerts numerous biological effects on the body. Cinnamon is frequently treated as an anti-diabetic compound, since it reduces the rate at which glucose enters the body.

Not only does it help diabetics avoid blood sugar spikes, but it also improves glucose use in the cell itself. Cinnamon supplements are either made from whole cinnamon powder or an extract. Many studies suggest it helps lower blood sugar and improves diabetes control (3).

When people with prediabetes — meaning a fasting blood sugar of 100–125 mg/dl — took 250 mg of cinnamon extract before breakfast and dinner for three months, they experienced an 8.4% decrease in fasting blood sugar compared to those on a placebo (4). 

In another three-month study, people with type 2 diabetes who took either 120 or 360 mg of cinnamon extract before breakfast saw an 11% or 14% decrease in fasting blood sugar, respectively, compared to those on a placebo (5).

In addition, their hemoglobin A1C (a 3-month average of blood sugar levels), decreased by 0.67% or 0.92%, respectively. All participants took the same diabetes drug during the study (5). 

Mechanism of action: Cinnamon may aid your body’s cells better respond to insulin which allows sugar into your cells, lowering blood sugar.

American Ginseng: American ginseng, an herbal root that grows primarily in North America, has been shown to decrease post-meal blood sugar by about 20% in healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes (6).  

In addition; when people with type 2 diabetes took 1 gram of American ginseng 40 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner for two months while maintaining their regular treatment, their fasting blood sugar decreased 10% compared to those on a placebo (6).

Mechanism of action: American ginseng may improve your cells’ response to and increase your body’s secretion of insulin (7).

Probiotics: Damage to your gut bacteria — such as from taking antibiotics — is associated with an increased risk of several diseases, including diabetes. 

Probiotic supplements, which contain beneficial bacteria or other microbes, offer numerous health benefits and may improve your body’s handling of carbohydrates (8).

 

 

In a review of numerous studies in people with type 2 diabetes, those who took probiotics for at least two months had a 16-mg/dl decrease in fasting blood sugar and a 0.53% decrease in A1C compared to those on a placebo (8).

People who took probiotics containing more than one species of bacteria had an even greater decrease in fasting blood sugar of 35 mg/dl (8).

Mechanism of action: Animal studies suggest that probiotics may decrease blood sugar by reducing inflammation and preventing the destruction of pancreatic cells that make insulin. Several other mechanisms may be involved as well (8).

Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera may also help those trying to lower their blood sugar.

Supplements or juice made from the leaves of this cactus-like plant could help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes (9).

In a review of nine studies in people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with aloe for 4–14 weeks decreased fasting blood sugar by 46.6 mg/dl and A1C by 1.05% (10).

People who had fasting blood sugar above 200 mg/dl before taking aloe experienced even stronger benefits (10).

Mechanism of action: Mouse studies indicate that aloe may stimulate insulin production in pancreatic cells, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Several other mechanisms may be involved (11).

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is considered a potential risk factor for type 2 diabetes (12).

A recent study showed that 72% of participants with type 2 diabetes were deficient in vitamin D at the start of the study (13).

After two months of taking a 4,500-IU supplement of vitamin D daily, both fasting blood sugar and A1C improved. In fact, 48% of participants had an A1C that showed good blood sugar control, compared to only 32% before the study.

Mechanism of action: Vitamin D may improve the function of pancreatic cells that make insulin and increase your body’s responsiveness to insulin (14).

Magnesium

Low blood levels of magnesium have been observed in 25–38% of people with type 2 diabetes and are more common in those who don’t have their blood sugar under good control (15). 

In a systematic review, eight of 12 studies indicated that giving magnesium supplements for 6–24 weeks to healthy people or those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes helped reduce fasting blood sugar levels, compared to a placebo.

Furthermore, each 50-mg increase in magnesium intake produced a 3% decrease in fasting blood sugar in those who entered the studies with low blood magnesium levels (16).

Mechanism of action: Magnesium is involved in normal insulin secretion and insulin action in your body’s tissues (16).

Gymnema

Gymnema sylvestre is an herb used as a diabetes treatment in the Ayurvedic tradition of India. The Hindu name for the plant — gurmar — means “sugar destroyer” (9).

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes taking 400 mg of gymnema leaf extract daily for 18–20 months experienced a 29% decrease in fasting blood sugar. A1C decreased from 11.9% at the start of the study to 8.48% (17).

Further research suggests that this herb may help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C in type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes and may reduce cravings for sweets by suppressing the sweet-taste sensation in your mouth (18).

Mechanism of action: Gymnema sylvestre may reduce sugar absorption in your gut and promote cells’ uptake of sugar from your blood. Due to its impact on type 1 diabetes, it’s suspected that Gymnema sylvestre may somehow aid insulin-producing cells in your pancreas (9)

Berberine

Berberine is an alkaloid extracted from various plants used in traditional Chinese medicine. It's primarily used to reduce insulin resistance and improve biomarkers of type 2 diabetes such as fasting glucose and glycated hemoglobin.

Berberine can activate an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) while inhibiting Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), thus increasing insulin sensitivity.

A review of 27 studies in people with type 2 diabetes observed that taking berberine in combination with diet and lifestyle changes reduced fasting blood sugar by 15.5 mg/dl and A1C by 0.71% compared to diet and lifestyle changes alone or a placebo (19).

The review also noted that berberine supplements taken alongside diabetes medication helped lower blood sugar more than medication alone.

Mechanism of action: Berberine may improve insulin sensitivity and enhance sugar uptake from your blood into your muscles, which helps lower blood sugar (20). Other possible mechanisms of action include regulating hepatic gluconeogenesis, and reducing inflammatory cytokine signaling.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA, is a vitamin-like compound and powerful antioxidant produced in your liver and found in some foods, such as spinach, broccoli and red meat (21).

When people with type 2 diabetes took 300, 600, 900 or 1,200 mg of ALA alongside their usual diabetes treatment for six months, fasting blood sugar and A1C decreased in a dose dependent manner (21).

Mechanism of action: ALA may improve insulin sensitivity and your cells’ uptake of sugar from your blood, though it may take a few months to experience these effects. It may also protect against oxidative damage caused by high blood sugar (21). 

Food sources of alpha lipoid acid include: Broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and much more.

Chromium

Chromium is an essential mineral, consumed through the diet. It is found in trace amounts in plant products, specifically grains. Chromium regulates insulin in the body. It is sometimes supplemented to improve insulin action in the body. 

Chromium deficiency reduces your body’s ability to use carbs — converted into sugar — for energy and raises your insulin needs 

In a review of 25 studies, chromium supplements reduced A1C by about 0.6% in people with type 2 diabetes, and the average decrease in fasting blood sugar was around 21 mg/dl, compared to a placebo (9).

There is also a small amount of evidence suggests that chromium may also help lower blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes (22).

Mechanism of action: Chromium’s main mechanism is directly tied to chromodulin. Chromodulin, a protein, normally augments the signaling of insulin receptors. If this protein is impaired, insulin’s ability to work in the body is greatly reduced. Chromium may also enhance the effects of insulin or support the activity of pancreatic cells that produce insulin (9).

Many of these high potency supplements mentioned above are rolled up in ADALOAD. 

ADALOAD is a potent combination of ingredients shown in evidence-based research to reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with high blood glucose. 

The mechanisms through which the ingredients in ADALOAD helps prediabetes is by activating an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) while inhibiting Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B).

It also contributes to favorable insulin levels by increasing insulin production and regenerating insulin-secreting islet cells. Both can help lower blood sugar levels. It helps your cells utilize glucose and move it to your liver, muscles, and fat and your body retain nutrients by blocking their conversion to glucose that ends up in your bloodstream.

Another mechanism through which ADALOAD works is that it reduces insulin resistance by increasing phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in the insulin-signaling pathway and thus potentiating insulin action.

Summary

Prediabetes is a warning sign that you’re on the path to diabetes but it's not too late to turn things around. Your blood glucose level is higher than it should be, but not in the diabetes range.

If you have been prediabetic for some time, the long-term damage of diabetes — especially to your heart, blood vessels, and kidneys — may already be starting. Take action now to lower your risks.

Start implementing a sound exercise and nutrition program and incorporate ADALOAD into your supplement regimen. I guarantee in time you will be in a much better situation and can potentially totally reverse this trend.

 

References: 

1.Blum, A., Loerz, C., Martin, H. J., Staab-Weijnitz, C. A., and Maser, E. (2012) Momordica charantia extract, a herbal remedy for type 2 diabetes, contains a specific 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 inhibitor. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 128, 51-55

2.O'Connor, J. C., and Freund, G. G. (2003) Vanadate and rapamycin synergistically enhance insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. Metabolism 52, 666-674

3.Santos, H. O., and da Silva, G. A. R. (2018) To what extent does cinnamon administration improve the glycemic and lipid profiles? Clin Nutr ESPEN 27, 1-9

4.Ziegenfuss, T. N., Hofheins, J. E., Mendel, R. W., Landis, J., and Anderson, R. A. (2006) Effects of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on body composition and features of the metabolic syndrome in pre-diabetic men and women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 3, 45-53

5.Rafehi, H., Ververis, K., Balcerczyk, A., Ziemann, M., Ooi, J., Hu, S., Kwa, F. A., Loveridge, S. J., Georgiadis, G. T., El-Osta, A., and Karagiannis, T. C. (2012) Investigation of the biological properties of Cinnulin PF in the context of diabetes: mechanistic insights by genome-wide mRNA-Seq analysis. Pathobiol Aging Age Relat Dis 2

6.Vuksan, V., Xu, Z. Z., Jovanovski, E., Jenkins, A. L., Beljan-Zdravkovic, U., Sievenpiper, J. L., Mark Stavro, P., Zurbau, A., Duvnjak, L., and Li, M. Z. C. (2019) Efficacy and safety of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) extract on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a double-blind, randomized, cross-over clinical trial. Eur J Nutr 58, 1237-1245

7.Luo, J. Z., Kim, J. W., and Luo, L. (2016) EFFECTS OF GINSENG AND ITS FOUR PURIFED GINSENOSIDES (Rb2, Re, Rg1, Rd) ON HUMAN PANCREATIC ISLET beta CELL IN VITRO. Eur J Pharm Med Res 3, 110-119

8.Zhang, Q., Wu, Y., and Fei, X. (2016) Effect of probiotics on glucose metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicina (Kaunas) 52, 28-34

9.McKennon, S. A. (2000) Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention Options For Type 2 Diabetes: Diets And Dietary Supplements (Botanicals, Antioxidants, and Minerals). in Endotext(Feingold, K. R., Anawalt, B., Boyce, A., Chrousos, G., de Herder, W. W., Dhatariya, K., Dungan, K., Grossman, A., Hershman, J. M., Hofland, J., Kalra, S., Kaltsas, G., Koch, C., Kopp, P., Korbonits, M., Kovacs, C. S., Kuohung, W., Laferrere, B., McGee, E. A., McLachlan, R., Morley, J. E., New, M., Purnell, J., Sahay, R., Singer, F., Stratakis, C. A., Trence, D. L., and Wilson, D. P. eds.), South Dartmouth (MA). pp 

10.Dick, W. R., Fletcher, E. A., and Shah, S. A. (2016) Reduction of Fasting Blood Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c Using Oral Aloe Vera: A Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med 22, 450-457

11.Zhang, Y., Liu, W., Liu, D., Zhao, T., and Tian, H. (2016) Efficacy of Aloe Vera Supplementation on Prediabetes and Early Non-Treated Diabetic Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients 8

12.Park, S. K., Garland, C. F., Gorham, E. D., BuDoff, L., and Barrett-Connor, E. (2018) Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: 12-year cohort study. PLoS One 13, e0193070

13.Mohamad, M. I., El-Sherbeny, E. E., and Bekhet, M. M. (2016) The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Glycemic Control and Lipid Profile in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr 35, 399-404

14.Mitri, J., Dawson-Hughes, B., Hu, F. B., and Pittas, A. G. (2011) Effects of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on pancreatic beta cell function, insulin sensitivity, and glycemia in adults at high risk of diabetes: the Calcium and Vitamin D for Diabetes Mellitus (CaDDM) randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 94, 486-494

15.de Lordes Lima, M., Cruz, T., Pousada, J. C., Rodrigues, L. E., Barbosa, K., and Cangucu, V. (1998) The effect of magnesium supplementation in increasing doses on the control of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 21, 682-686

16.Morais, J. B. S., Severo, J. S., de Alencar, G. R. R., de Oliveira, A. R. S., Cruz, K. J. C., Marreiro, D. D. N., Freitas, B., de Carvalho, C. M. R., Martins, M., and Frota, K. M. G. (2017) Effect of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance in humans: A systematic review. Nutrition 38, 54-60

17.Baskaran, K., Kizar Ahamath, B., Radha Shanmugasundaram, K., and Shanmugasundaram, E. R. (1990) Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol 30, 295-300

18.Kashima, H., Eguchi, K., Miyamoto, K., Fujimoto, M., Endo, M. Y., Aso-Someya, N., Kobayashi, T., Hayashi, N., and Fukuba, Y. (2017) Suppression of Oral Sweet Taste Sensation with Gymnema sylvestre Affects Postprandial Gastrointestinal Blood Flow and Gastric Emptying in Humans. Chem Senses 42, 295-302

19.Lan, J., Zhao, Y., Dong, F., Yan, Z., Zheng, W., Fan, J., and Sun, G. (2015) Meta-analysis of the effect and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipemia and hypertension. J Ethnopharmacol 161, 69-81

20.Yin, J., Xing, H., and Ye, J. (2008) Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism 57, 712-717

21.Porasuphatana, S., Suddee, S., Nartnampong, A., Konsil, J., Harnwong, B., and Santaweesuk, A. (2012) Glycemic and oxidative status of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus following oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid: a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 21, 12-21

22.Fox, G. N., and Sabovic, Z. (1998) Chromium picolinate supplementation for diabetes mellitus. J Fam Pract 46, 83-86

Dr. Paul Henning

About Dr. Paul

I'm currently an Army officer on active duty with over 15 years of experience and also run my own health and wellness business. The majority of my career in the military has focused on enhancing Warfighter health and performance. I am passionate about helping people enhance all aspects of their lives through health and wellness. Learn more about me