Like many people, you may have set a new year’s resolution to eat less sugar. But when you’re faced with temptations on the daily, honoring that intention is easier said than done.
Needless to say, your blood sugar is probably out of whack. One-third of Americans have prediabetes — higher than normal blood sugar levels that aren’t yet considered type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes increases your risk for stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems.
When we talk about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention, having a healthy blood sugar level needs to be a part of the conversation. And one of the best ways to keep your blood sugar in check is through a healthy diet.
Balancing your blood sugar through smart food choices isn’t complicated. It really comes down to eating brightly colored fruits and veggies, nuts, and eating fish with omega-3 fatty acids.
But did you know there are other natural ways that you can support your body’s blood sugar regulation? Certain teas can help the body metabolize sugar, thereby helping to prevent and control diabetes.
Here are ten teas that are at the top of the blood-sugar balancing pack:
Green tea has been shown to be useful in managing the absorption and metabolism of sugars. A 2013 research study published in the Diabetes and Metabolism Journal found that people who drank 6 or more cups of green tea a day were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than were people who drank less than a cup of green tea a week.
Green tea is rich in polyphenols -- antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and cause vasodilation (widening of the arteries), which decreases blood pressure, prevents clotting, and reduces cholesterol. Polyphenols in green tea can also help regulate glucose in the body. One particular polyphenol, called Polyphenon E, can affect the gut microbiome resulting in blood-sugar-lowering effects.
Bonus: Green tea has many different variations like matcha, lemon, or jasmine, so you’ll never get bored.
Need a hit of caffeine in the morning? Swap out your a.m. coffee for a cup of black tea. It has the highest caffeine content of all tea types, but it also gives you the benefit of polyphenols. One study showed that black tea consumption may decrease levels of blood sugar after eating, making it the perfect partner for breakfast time.
One clinical trial showed that cinnamon could improve factors such as BMI, body fat, and visceral fat in addition to blood sugar indicators and lipid profiles. Other studies suggest that cinnamon lowers blood sugar by making insulin more efficient at moving glucose into cells.
When shopping, look for cinnamon spice tea, cinnamon apple tea, or make your own cinnamon stick tea at home.
An herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, Gymnema Sylvestre has significant blood-sugar-lowering properties. One of its many superpowers is that it may block sugar from being absorbed. Some users even report having less cravings for sweet treats after drinking Gymnema tea.
Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory super-herb that has a history of benefits. Long used in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric appears to help improve blood sugar control and treat insulin resistance. If you have ground turmeric in your spice cabinet at home, it’s easy enough to make your own turmeric tea or golden milk latte. Add ginger or cinnamon for an extra hit of flavor.
In addition to being a blood sugar regulator, lemon balm contains compounds that are said to promote relaxation. Drink lemon balm tea whenever you’re feeling stressed or right before bedtime to help you fall asleep easier.
Surprisingly tart, yet highly enjoyable, hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants and is being studied for its impact on depression, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
In one study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, hibiscus tea was found to be both hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic, meaning that it lowers blood sugar levels and lipid levels in the blood.
Because hibiscus tea can lower your blood sugar, make sure you speak to a doctor before you begin drinking it, especially if you have diabetes or are currently taking blood sugar-lowering medication.
The bilberry plant is a low-growing, flowering shrub with surprising medicinal powers.
Most notably, the bilberry is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are polyphenolic components that give the bilberry its blue/black color and high antioxidant content. These powerful anthocyanins are believed to be the key compounds responsible for bilberry’s numerous health benefits, like lowering blood sugar.
If you want to take a break from caffeine, chamomile tea is a great alternative to black or green tea. It has a mild, earthy, pleasant taste. And the overall feeling as you sip is simply comforting. It’s a great choice for right before bedtime or whenever you want to just relax.
Chamomile tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may play a role in balancing your blood sugar. In one study involving diabetic people, those who consumed chamomile tea daily with meals for eight weeks had lower average blood sugar levels than those who consumed water. Additionally, several studies suggest that chamomile tea may lower fasting blood sugar levels, and also help prevent blood sugar spikes after eating.
Here’s one you probably haven’t heard of before. Pu-erh tea (pronounced poo-air) is made from the leaves and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant. Pu-erh tea's very special processing involves both fermentation and then "aging" under high humidity. Depending on the variety, the color of the brewed tea can be pale yellow, golden, red, or dark brown.
Proving pu-ehr tea’s beneficial role in blood sugar balance, one study found that when a water extract of pu-ehr tea was given to mice for four weeks, it suppressed the increase in blood insulin and sugar levels.
Poorly managed blood sugar can lead to common complications, including fatigue, weight gain, and sugar cravings, and even more extreme conditions. The good news: with the right lifestyle and dietary tweaks, balancing your blood sugar is easier than you think.
Better blood sugar balance is one reason why people may want to add tea to their diet.Along with cutting down on the sweet treats you love, making healthy food choices, and getting plenty of sleep and exercise, tea can play an important role in naturally helping to improve your blood sugar levels. Remember that it's important to discuss using any teas and herbs with your physician. And, as always, when sourcing any blood support supplements, select a trusted brand.
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