Herbal teas are great tools for controlling blood sugar levels.
Among the most highlighted by specialists are cinnamon tea and chamomile tea. Find out here what their effects are due to and how to prepare them.
What is the diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the use of glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood, whose function is to act as a source of energy or fuel for the body.
To distribute glucose between cells, and thus provide them with energy, our body uses a hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas. When this is not enough or does not work properly, it leads to the two most common types of diabetes:
- Diabetes type 1: It is an autoimmune disease, which occurs because the immune system mistakenly attacks and eliminates the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
- Type 2 diabetes: more than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. In this type, the body is not able to use insulin correctly.
Another form is gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. When this happens, the baby is at higher risk for health complications.
Although gestational diabetes usually clears up after delivery, it can increase the mother’s or child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
What to eat to control diabetes
Eating certain foods is helpful in controlling your blood glucose level and helping you lose excess weight (a risk factor for diabetes). Among the best options are:
- Fiber: herbs and spices, such as coriander, oregano, or basil, legumes, such as lentils, peas, peanuts, and beans, or fruits and cereals.
- Fruits and vegetablesCitrus fruits, berries, apples, pineapples, grapes, kiwis, green leafy vegetables such as chard, spinach, broccoli or kale.
- Healthy fats: Fish, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout, flaxseeds or oil, nuts, chia seeds, canola, olive, or soybean oils, and avocado.
In addition to what we eat, it is important to choose well what we drink so that blood sugar levels remain healthy. Water and juices or smoothies based on the aforementioned fruits are excellent options.
You can also opt for infusions, such as turmeric, fenugreek, hibiscus, ginger, or black or green tea. Two that have been highly studied and recommended by experts to prevent diabetes are chamomile and cinnamon:
What is chamomile?
Chamomile is an herb that owes its name to the slight apple aroma that its fresh flower has. There are two different herbs, although similar in appearance, which are commonly called chamomile: Matricaria recutita Y Chamaemelum nobile.
- What are the blood sugar levels of diabetes and prediabetes
Because these plants are widespread and have been traditionally used for hundreds of years to make medicine around the world, the confusion of calling them the same has become widespread.
To distinguish them, the clearest difference is in the center of the flowers. If you take one, fresh or dry, and divide it in the center longitudinally to the stems, it is clear that German chamomile, (M. recutita) has a hollow center, which makes the center cone-shaped. Instead, the Roman (C. nobile), has a solid center and a flat shape.
Why is it good against diabetes
There is ample scientific evidence showing that the consumption of chamomile (M. recutita.) Is linked to the control of blood sugar and the prevention of diabetes.
After analyzing 15 studies, the authors of an investigation published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, concluded that chamomile can improve glycemic and lipid profiles and oxidative stress indicators in diabetes mellitus and related complications.
This may be due to quercetin, an antioxidant substance found in chamomile, which, according to a work published in Nutrition, helps to slow the absorption of glucose in the intestine, which improves the control of blood sugar levels.
How to make chamomile tea
Chamomile tea can be easily prepared by following these steps:
- Heat a liter of water.
- When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add 10-15 chamomile flowers.
- Cover, let stand 5 to 10 minutes and filter.
- Drink half a glass, 2 or 3 times a day.
What is cinnamon?
What is commonly known as cinnamon is the inner bark (obtained by peeling and rubbing the branches) of the cinnamon tree. Among the most common types of cinnamon that can be found in stores and markets are:
- Ceylon cinnamon: (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum) from Sri Lanka, is characterized by a sweet and smooth flavor and aroma. The branches are thin, light brown in color, and with many thin layers that are easily broken.
- Cassia cinnamon: (Cinnamomum cassia) from China, it is characterized by having a stronger and spicier flavor and aroma than that of Ceylon. The branches are thick, dark brown in color, and with a single, hard, hard-to-break coat.
Knowing how to differentiate them is important not only for a matter of taste and price (that of Ceylon is usually more expensive) but also to control the consumption of a substance that has toxic effects on the liver: coumarin.
While in Ceylon cinnamon the coumarin levels are almost imperceptible, it is estimated that in cassia cinnamon you can find between 15 and 20 mg in a teaspoon.
Although occasional consumption does not represent any health risk, it should be considered to replace it (for example, by Ceylon) if it is part of the daily diet.
Why is it good against diabetes
As with chamomile, there are different studies that have linked the consumption of cinnamon with the control of blood sugar levels.
For example, work published in Annals of Family Medicine, found after analyzing more than 540 patients that the consumption of cinnamon is associated with “a statistically significant decrease in fasting plasma glucose levels, total cholesterol, LDL-C [colesterol “malo”] and triglycerides, and an increase in HDL-C levels [colesterol “bueno”]”.
Experts are still investigating the mechanisms behind this association, although they argue that it is likely due to the fact that cinnamon tea has high levels of magnesium, iron, calcium and is rich in polyphenols (powerful natural antioxidants).
These compounds increase the sensitivity of cells to the action of insulin, which favors the regulation of blood sugar levels.
How to make cinnamon tea
Cinnamon tea can be easily prepared by following these steps:
- Heat water.
- When it boils, turn off the heat and add the cinnamon. Keep in mind that the ratio is a cinnamon stick or a teaspoon of its powder for each cup of water (236 ml or 8 ounces).
- Let the preparation rest for 10 minutes.
- If you used a branch, you will need to remove it. You can reserve it to make tea in the future.
- Optional: you can add honey, milk, sweeteners (such as xylitol or stevia), blended fruits, or other types of tea, such as black or red, to add flavor to the infusion.
Tips to prevent diabetes
In addition to consuming beneficial foods or herbal teas, there is evidence that some simple lifestyle measures are effective in preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes:
Have a healthy weight
Being overweight, especially when distributed in the abdominal area, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Specialists advise losing between 5 and 10% of the weight in these situations, not regaining it and maintaining it in the long term. This can also provide protection against other types of health problems or disorders.
Doing physical activity
Exercise fulfills a double function to prevent type 2 diabetes, since it increases the consumption of glucose by the body, and stimulates the muscle fibers, favoring the transport of sugar into the cells.
Although all types of movement are positive when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes, the greatest benefits were seen in moderate intensity activities. Experts warn that sedentary or overweight people who start exercising, start from lower to higher intensity, to avoid complications.
To avoid the use of tobacco
Nicotine and certain chemicals found in cigarettes damage cells, cause inflammation, affect the response to insulin, and increase the risk of increased abdominal fat – all risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Until significant scientific evidence from human trials is available, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should exercise extreme caution.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: American Diabetes Association, Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.