Ayurveda for Diabetes: 5 Ayurvedic Tips and Diet to Help Manage Diabetes

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Updated: April 13, 2023

Diabetes is a huge health concern in the world today. It is a chronic condition marked with high sugar levels in the blood. Uncontrolled diabetes can negatively impact health, leading to heart ailments, vision loss, and kidney failure.

Diabetes, therefore, should be taken seriously, and no stones left unturned in managing it. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. High blood sugar levels can lead to a range of health problems, and common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, blurred vision, fatigue, and slow healing of wounds. Treatment usually involves lifestyle changes, medications, and/or insulin therapy to manage blood sugar levels.

A Quick Understanding of Diabetes

Digestion breaks down the carbohydrates in our food to glucose – the simplest form of sugar – releasing it into the bloodstream. As the glucose levels rise, the pancreas is triggered to release insulin, the hormone that enables glucose to move from the blood into the cells.

Sometimes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes), or the insulin produced is not used effectively (Type 2), causing blood glucose levels to become dangerously high.

As per statistical data, in India, Type-2 diabetes is far more prevalent than Type 1. 12 Studies predict that by 2030 nearly 98 million Indians may suffer from Type 2.

Over time, we’ve become sedentary, with little physical activity. Our diet too has changed. Freshly cooked, balanced meals have given way to processed food high on saturated fats and carbohydrates. These lifestyle changes combined with stress and pollution are why Type-2 has seen a steep rise.

Ayurveda – A Holistic Approach to Diabetes Management

Ayurveda goes beyond the symptoms to the root cause. It’s a way of life that blends herbal treatments with healthy practices and routines. This comprehensive approach helps in managing chronic lifestyle disorders, like diabetes. 

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For diabetes, Ayurveda suggests a holistic blend of herbal remedies, diet, yoga, and lifestyle changes. This approach helps manage blood sugar and the symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, obesity, tiredness, etc.

The Ayurvedic way of Managing Diabetes

Ayurveda recommends the following lifestyle changes and diet:

1. Ayurvedic Medicines for Managing Sugar

In Ayurveda, the human constitution is a combination of three doshas: Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha. Good health is the state where all three doshas are equally balanced. Diabetes is caused by an excess of Kapha dosha. 

Here are a few herbal remedies to normalize the Kapha dosha and reduce sugar levels –

  • Neem – Contains glycosides and flavonoids that help lower sugar levels. Mix 1 tsp of Neem powder in a glass of water – drink twice daily early morning and before bedtime.  
  • Bel leaf – Provides anti-diabetic and antioxidant action. Chew 4-5 bael leaves on an empty stomach in the morning. 
  • Fenugreek – Soak 10 gm of methi overnight, in a glass of water – drink the decoction on an empty stomach early in the morning.
  • Bitter Gourd – Contains polypeptide-p, an organic molecule with hypoglycemic activity. Take 30 ml of karela juice on an empty stomach early in the morning.
  • Jamun – Contains jambolana that helps prevent the conversion of starch into sugar. Chew 4-5 leaves, or take 1 tsp of Jamun seed powder in the morning.
  • Amala – Contains vitamin C that helps manage tissue damage caused by high sugar. Take 20 ml of Amla juice twice daily. 
  • Triphala Churna – Take approximately 5 gm daily of  triphala powder for two months to help manage blood sugar. 

In addition to the above, Ayurveda suggests other potent herbs proven to be effective in managing diabetes and its symptoms.

Strictly following these Ayurvedic tips may be challenging. You can opt for herbal diabetes care solutions, such as Jamun Karela Juice available in the market.

2. Track Your Eating Pattern and Eat Healthily

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) emphasizes Nutrition Therapy for diabetes control. Because, in diabetes, diet plays an important role.

Begin by tracking eating patterns: what you eat, how much you eat, and how often you eat. This will motivate you to cut back on unhealthy, processed food. 

Adopt a freshly-cooked, fiber-rich, low on carbohydrates diet. Eat – 

  • A mix of vegetables to get enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) – bitter gourd, drumstick, etc.
  • Plenty of leafy greens for the fiber and iron – Palak, Amaranthus, Malabar Spinach (Poi), etc.
  • Salads, for they are low on calories and high on nutrients.
  • Whole lentils (horse gram, black gram, pulses, etc.), for protein and fiber.
  • Millets, which are gluten-free and high in antioxidants. Try replacing rice with millets and barley.
  • Unpolished rice – if you are a rice eater, have a small quantity of unpolished, red rice.
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3. Avoid Unhealthy Food

Knowing what not to eat is as important as knowing what to eat. Read up on the correlation between glycaemic index (GI) and weight.

The GI ranks foods from 0-100 based on their ability to increase blood sugar levels. You should avoid foods with a 70+ GI (listed below) – 

  • Sweetened (containing sugar and jaggery) food items and drinks – pastries, Indian sweets, chocolates, fruit juices, smoothies.
  • Food items containing refined flour (maida) – white bread, cakes, biscuits, pasta, pizza.
  • White rice, rich in carbohydrates – if you are a rice eater, go for unpolished, red rice.
  • Fruits high in sugar content – grapes, banana, mango, apple, pineapple, watermelon.
  • Vegetable high on carbs – potato, sweet potato, corn, green peas, yam, beetroot, beans.
  • Fried food loaded with saturated fat and carbs.

4. Incorporate Yoga and Workouts in Daily Routine

Do work-outs and take long, brisk walks to burn the excess sugar and lose weight. Practice following Asanas to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications – 

  1. Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall pose) – helps relieve stress.
  2. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting half spinal twist) – exercises the stomach and spinal cord muscles; supports overall wellness.
  3. Dhanurasana (Bow pose) – helps exercise the entire body and reduce stress.
  4. Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bending pose) – Helps relieve anxiety, headache, and fatigue.
  5. Halasana (Plow pose) – helps relieve backache and headache. Supports good sleep and helps stimulate the thyroid gland.

5. Make the Following a Second Nature

Last but not least – 

  • Regular monitoring: Monitor blood sugar frequently, for sugar levels can fluctuate dramatically in diabetes. People with it should regularly monitor their blood sugar levels and follow their conventional medical treatment plan in addition to any Ayurvedic approaches.
  • Never miss medications: It could lead to other complications. If you have been prescribed medications to manage your diabetes by a healthcare professional, it’s important to take them as prescribed and not miss any doses. Diabetes medications are typically used to help regulate blood sugar levels, and missing a dose can cause blood sugar levels to spike or drop, which can be dangerous.
  • Stress reduction: Stress can affect blood sugar levels, so Ayurvedic practitioners recommend stress-reducing practices such as meditation, breathing exercises, and massage to help manage it.
  • Panchakarma: Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic detoxification process that involves several therapeutic procedures to eliminate toxins from the body. Some Ayurvedic practitioners recommend Panchakarma for people with diabetes to help improve insulin sensitivity and manage blood sugar levels.
  • Oil massage: Ayurvedic practitioners recommend regular oil massage to improve circulation, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. This can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes, as it can help improve nerve function and circulation to the extremities, which can be impacted by high blood sugar levels.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Ayurvedic practitioners recommend making lifestyle modifications to help manage it, such as getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding or limiting alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Nasya: Nasya is an Ayurvedic therapy that involves the application of medicated oil or herbal preparations to the nasal passages. Some Ayurvedic practitioners recommend Nasya for people with diabetes to improve circulation and help manage blood sugar levels.
  • Acupuncture: While acupuncture is not strictly an Ayurvedic therapy, it is often used in conjunction with Ayurvedic approaches to manage it. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing.
  • Keep your healthcare professional informed: Consult your doctor or healthcare professional regularly and strictly follow medical advice. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare professional to monitor your blood sugar levels and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. This may involve making changes to your diet and lifestyle, as well as taking medications as prescribed. Also, essential to keep your healthcare professional informed about any Ayurvedic or other complementary therapies you may be using to manage it. Some of these therapies can interact with diabetes medications or affect blood sugar levels, so it’s essential to use them under the guidance of a qualified practitioner and in conjunction with your conventional medical treatment plan.
Sources

  1. “Overview of Diabetes Burden.” National Health Portal India, Centre for Health Informatics (CHI), Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/overview-of-diabetes-biurden_mtl.[]
  2. “IDF DIABETES ATLAS Seventh Edition, 2015.” International Diabetes Federation. Available from: https://www.diabetesatlas.org/upload/resources/previous/files/7/IDF-Diabetes-Atlas-207th.pdf.[]

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