High Blood Sugar or Hyperglycemia is a well known health problem and is a byproduct of our modern day lifestyle. Everyone suffering from this disease is constantly looking for easy ways to control their blood sugar level without the use of allopathic medicines. We have segmented this topic to give you an in depth understanding of this issue and to create more awareness about processed foods, natural sugar substitutes and how you can use easily available kitchen herbs and ingredients to control blood sugar.
Processed foods are generally stacked with excess sugar, salt, fats and other unnecessary synthetic chemicals. All these added components not only have severe ill effects on our delicate system, but can also be dangerous and harmful since these are devoid of essential nutrients. For example, excess quantity of sugar, salt and fat can lead to excessive fat accumulation on the liver and abdomen, high cholesterol, insulin resistance in the body, high blood pressure and an abnormal metabolism. Although we are aware of all the consequences still we gravitate towards fatty, sweet and salty processed foods. These food items also have a tendency to build addiction which causes the consumer to completely lose control over their consumption.
Some of the characters of processed food are described below to highlight that they generally contain common food additives which hamper our body’s functions:
Preservatives and synthetic chemicals are added to increase shelf life of the food or to prevent food from spoilage. Certain colorants are added to make food more appealing to the eyes and similarly may also contain artificial flavoring agents to enhance taste. Texturants are added to improve appearance and to enhance mouth feel. Apart from these, processed food may possess dozens of chemicals which may not always be mentioned on the label.
- Processed foods are refined so they often have higher carbohydrate content than their natural counterparts.
- Processed foods are very low in fiber and essential nutrients compared to unprocessed whole food.
- Processed foods quickly break down in our digestive system and give more hunger pangs or cravings with sudden surges in blood sugar and insulin levels.
- It causes many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, fatty liver etc.
- They can be fortified with synthetic minerals and vitamins to compensate for nutrients lost during processing.
- Processed foods often contain unhealthy saturated fats that can increase inflammation and bloating in our body.
NATURAL SUGAR SUBSTITUTES
There is a long list of reasons to stay away from sugar or household table sugar and it is simply not beneficial for the body as it is highly addictive and delicious but devoid of proteins, vitamins and minerals. It will simply expand your waistline and cause long term health ailments like weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Imbalance in metabolism and excessive fat storage are the worst contributions of household granulated sugar to our bodies.
For some people, it is hard to stay away from sweets and sugar, especially for people with a sweet tooth and it may seem that there is no alternative. But nature has created natural resources that act as sugar substitutes.
Here we shed some light at some of those natural sweeteners, which are easily available and affordable too.
- Honey is an age old natural remedy and known for curing infections, stomach ulcers, seasonal allergies, dandruff, promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut etc. It is known to be a rich source of antioxidants and contains vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium and other minerals in small amounts besides carbohydrates and widely prefer as a flavor enhancer and a natural sweetener. Because of its incredible qualities it is also added to skin care products.
- Blackstrap Molasses is the thick byproduct of processed sugar with traces of nutrients of sugarcane including iron, vitamin B complex and calcium and has a higher antioxidant value and intense flavor.
- Sweet leaves of Stevia is an effective alternate natural source have been used since long decades, calorie free and do not affect blood sugar level but holds insignificant amount of nutrients.
- Maple syrup is maple tree sap prepared by boiling the sap. It is a sticky concentrated syrup, less sweet than honey but has a considerable amount of anti-oxidants, high in zinc and manganese. It has a rich flavor, better than regular sugar and holds more nutrients than the latter.
- Dates are natural sweeteners and high in sugar and fiber with a caramel like flavor. They can replace white sugar easily in many cooking and baking processes and don’t spike sugar levels because of their high fiber content.
COMMON KITCHEN HERBS TO CONTROL SUGAR
Since the last decade there has been a huge surge of highly processed and calorie rich junk or fast food that is lavishly laced with salt, fats and sugars. Along with this an overly sedentary lifestyle is creating obesity around the world. Obesity and excess weight both have long term negative effects on our body. Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is making our life difficult and also adding cost and time, including some serious health concerns like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. But did you know that you can easily include simple household kitchen ingredients to get rid of excess weight? Here are a few classical examples:
- Turmeric a yellow coloured warm spice with exceptional health benefits, helps speed up metabolism by increasing body heat, assists in the fat burning process, and helps cells to use glucose. Its bioactive compounds, especially curcumin is responsible for all the positive effects and also contain volatile oils, potassium, vitamins, fibers and trace amounts of other essential elements.
- Cinnamon is another commonly used kitchen ingredient which aids in curbing cravings, regulates blood sugar level, promotes insulin production and won’t leave you feeling hungry and keep you satiated for a long time. You can add it easily in your meals by just sprinkling a little quantity of it on any dish.
- Cayenne also helps raise the internal temperature just like turmeric, assists in fat burning and may improve insulin secretion as well. You can add roasted or ground cayenne on homemade dressings, dips or any other food item.
- Cumin a universal kitchen ingredient also has thermogenic properties with great flavor that can be added to any food and enjoyed.
- Ginger also helps to control blood sugar, sensitize insulin and prevent sudden surges of glucose levels. You can pair up grated fresh ginger with any dish including black tea or green tea.
- Black pepper also posseses the enormous power to push your metabolism and it may even help to prevent further fat accumulation.
- Cardamom a delicate, floral ingredient helps to boost metabolism and can be easily included in anything from morning tea, desserts or even savoury dishes.
- Fenugreek is a known to flush out toxins from the body, reduces inflammation, helps in weight loss, improves insulin sensitivity, balances metabolism and prevents poly cystic ovarian syndrome as well. Fenugreek can be used as tea and the seeds can be added in any food preparation or salad (roasted seeds).
- Parsley is a well known household herb which is beneficial for diabetic patients as it lowers blood glucose levels and also improves liver function; it’s great for salads and other dishes.
- Cilantro or Coriander a pleasantly fragrant herb it helps to stimulate insulin from the pancreas, and is a commonly used kitchen ingredient. It can be added to any meal or salad and can be consumed on a regular basis.
- Bay leaves or Tej pata is a well known daily consumable fragrant herb that improves metabolism and helps to regulate blood glucose level, improves insulin sensitivity also help to maintain triglycerides level. It is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.
- Curry leaves help to slow down the breaking of starch into glucose and is thus useful for diabetic patients and can be added effortlessly to regular meals.
- Tulsi or Basil leaves are well packed with anti-oxidants; assist in increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering down blood glucose level. You can either consume raw leaves or its juice.
In conclusion, we hope we have shed some light on why we should avoid unnecessary and harmful foods that are loaded with synthetic chemicals, salt and sugar and how we can include health friendly common herbs to regulate blood sugar and streamline other body functions. By doing this we can decrease dependency on medicines and live a longer, healthier life!