Suffering with diabetes is no joke. You feel constantly low on energy and can never eat the things you want to eat. Not only that but you’re at constant risk of multiple health complications including impaired eyesight, heart problems and even amputations. It’s a serious nightmare and anyone who has experienced it will know just how much it can interfere with your life. That’s why it’s so important to get on top of this condition as soon as you can, and to fight back. If you do that, you can still enjoy a great quality of life and even reverse some of the damage.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes. Once you’ve been diagnosed, this is a lifelong condition. Diabetes treatments are centered around managing the symptoms then, but if you get this right, you can take better control of your life.
Restoring Insulin Sensitivity
So anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes will know that the problem is to do with their insulin production or sensitivity, which results in increased blood sugar and low energy. Insulin is the hormone that signals to the body to absorb sugar in order for it to be used to produce energy. When insulin stops working, that results in a build up of sugar in the blood that can harm nerves, cause inflammation, and generally wreak havoc. Meanwhile, the lack of usable energy leaves the individual feeling lethargic and tired.
The more common form of diabetes is Type 2, where the insulin becomes less effective at stimulating the body to absorb sugar. Fortunately, there are methods for improving insulin sensitivity that can help a great deal.
Supplements and Lifestyle
One example of a supplement that can enhance insulin sensitivity is cinnamon. Cinnamon has been shown in many studies to help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Some researchers even suggest it could even be a possible curative treatment for diabetes with further investigation. In one particular study, volunteers were given 1-6 grams of cinnamon for 40 days and were able to cut their blood sugar levels by as much as 24%1.
Another example of a potential supplement is milk thistle. This has an active component known as ‘silymarin’ which has been shown to help support liver health and to strengthen the liver. It has been shown in some studies to be effective at lowering insulin resistance even in diabetic patients!
Also useful is exercise. Exercise increases the demand for immediate energy in the body and this forces our systems to plunder fat stores as well as the blood for glucose. When you exercise intensively, this can help you to immediately use up large quantities of sugar and thereby it works in a similar way to starving your body of energy.
One of the best ways to quickly benefit from the diabetes-fighting benefits of diabetes is by using Tabata – a form of High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”) exercise. This takes just four minutes!
In case that sounds like gobbledygook, HIIT is a form of exercise that encourages bouts of sprinting or otherwise all-out exertion, punctuated with periods of relative calm and ‘active recovery’.
When combined, these two strategies drain the sugar from your blood super fast and burn away dangerous fat around the abdomen. This works so well, because the high intensity exercise (anaerobic) will actually deplete all the sugar in your blood, thus forcing the body to rely on other means for continued exertion during the active rest phases. This is perfect for increasing the energy efficiency of the body, especially in diabetic patients.
What’s more, HIIT has been shown to increase the efficiency of your mitochondria, meaning your body gets more benefit from less exercise. Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cells that are responsible for converting glucose into ATP.
To perform Tabata you’re basically going to pick a form of CV exercise and perform it 8 times – training intensely for 20 seconds then taking a break for 10 seconds (set a recurring timer on your phone).
In 4 minutes you’ll have had an incredible workout and in time you’ll find your energy is tons better – not to mention your health!
You can also enhance this effect even further by combining the right types of exercise with the right types of diet. For instance, if you use ‘fasted cardio’ that means that you’ll be exercising specifically when you have low levels of blood sugar already. If you do this, then you’ll be forcing your body to work even harder at getting the energy from your body.
Note as well that insulin isn’t only used for energy – it is also an anabolic hormone that the body uses for getting nutrients out the blood to build muscle and tissue. When you work out you can increase levels of testosterone and growth hormone and this will help to enhance the role of insulin in your system.
Of course, the most important dietary rule for diabetics and pre-diabetics is to avoid consuming too much sugar. You can make it easier for your body to control levels of sugar by keeping levels low. Eat just enough for energy, and aim to consume complex carbs rather than simple carbs wherever possible. That means your energy should be coming from sweet potatoes and whole-grain bread NOT from cake and sweets. This will release sugar more slowly into your system, providing a steady flow rather than a sudden spike. Guess which is easier for your body to cope with?
If you want to go even further, you can try adopting a fully ketogenic diet3. The ketogenic diet involves completely eradicating sugar from the diet, which in turn forces the body to rely on alternative energy sources other than glucose. After around 48 hours, this puts the body in a ketogenic state where it switches to fat as a primary fuel source. This can be extremely effective for diabetic patients, but is a huge commitment that won’t suit everyone. It’s certainly something to investigate further.
Supplements That Raise Energy
But here’s the thing: insulin is only one part of the equation. There were ways you could become more efficient at using the energy you do have right now, and these can also help with diabetes management.
One way to do this is with creatine. Creatine is a bodybuilding supplement that enables the body to recycle ATP. This is adenosine triphosphate, the energy ‘currency’ that glucose is eventually converted into. The result? You get a little more energy from the ATP that makes it to your cells. Even if you have diabetes some is getting through and this way that little bit goes further.
This an effective and lesser-known supplement for diabetes sufferers and can have an immediate impact on energy levels.
Here’s the next one: coQ10 AKA coenzyme Q10. This is another supplement that improves the energy efficiency of your cells by boosting mitochondrial function.
You use these and then you can exercise more, which results in even more benefits.
Omega 3 is also effective against diabetes. By allowing energy to pass into the cells more easily in the form of glucose and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), Omega 3 helps to make the body more energy efficient. This again means that you get more of a boost from less sugar.
At the same time, omega 3 also combats joint pain and depression which makes it easier to stay active – yet another benefit for diabetics.
As you can see then, although there are no cures for diabetes, there are ways to improve your energy levels and to manage insulin resistance. These things can help you to live a healthy and normal life. In fact, many diabetic individuals find that the combination of low insulin and lots of exercise ensures they actually look particularly ripped and muscular!
Of course, none of this is a substitute for regular insulin injections. Follow the instructions of your physician. Diabetes is not to be trifled with, but nor is it something that needs to bring your life to a grinding halt.
- Does Cinnamon Help Diabetes
- 7 Science-Based Benefits of Milk Thistle
- How the Ketogenic Diet Works for Type 2 Diabetes