If you or someone you know is diabetic and you don’t yet know about the health benefits of turmeric, the time to learn about this amazing plant is NOW! Actually, turmeric is a wonderful tool straight from the plant kingdom that can help manage diabetes and a long list of other health-related issues. It might even be one of the healthiest things you can give your body. So, let’s get started and learn more about this fantastic little plant and how it can help a host of problems, including managing one of the most common ones in today’s society: diabetes.
Diabetes: What is it exactly? Well, diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use it properly to regulate the blood sugar levels of the body.
So what is turmeric? Turmeric is a flowering plant from the ginger family. A perennial native to countries such as India and areas of Southeast Asia, these plants are harvested for roots that are either used fresh or boiled, then dried and ground into the orange, yellow powder that you will find in most grocery stores. Turmeric has been used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, which in itself is worth taking note of.
For food, turmeric is most often used in the curries of Indian and Asian cuisine. It has a war, almost bitter peppery flavour. Its yellow colour comes from the chemical inside it called curcumin. This chemical is the activator that alleviates common conditions such as allergies, frequent colds, fever, depression, heartburn, and any other low-grade pain and inflammation.
So how does turmeric work to manage diabetes? Diabetes is all about the body’s inability to produce or properly use insulin, which regulates the glucose in the blood. There are several different types of diabetes, but all have issues in the same areas.
Different types of diabetes
Insulin is a hormone that is produced inside the body by the pancreas. As we know, diabetes is a disease whereby the body is unable to produce insulin or can’t properly use the insulin that it is producing. The role of insulin in the body is to regulate the amount of glucose (also known as sugar) in the blood. In order for the body to function properly, blood sugar must be regulated. In the case of diabetics, this is not happening correctly or sometimes at all. If there is too much blood sugar in the body, damage can be done to the blood vessels, organs, and nerves. The body also needs insulin to convert sugar into energy. All in all, an essential part of how the human body works.
There are two different types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Each has similarities but also some reasonably important differences when it comes to how you can care for your own health.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease that is often diagnosed in children, teens, and occasionally in young adults. When you have type 1 diabetes, you are unable to produce your own insulin and therefore, cannot regulate your own blood sugar. Basically, the body is attacking the pancreas-this is why it is classified as an auto-immune disease. Type 1 diabetics are insulin-dependent and need to inject themselves multiple times per day with insulin to make sure that their bodies can function normally.
Type 1 diabetics must eat according to a healthy nutrition plan to make it easier to control their diabetes. Turmeric, with its glucose balancing abilities, is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. However, no matter how healthy the are-this type of diabetes cannot be reversed.
Type 2 Diabetes
Those with Type 2 diabetes can’t properly use the insulin that their bodies are creating, or they do not produce enough of it. This type is commonly diagnosed in adulthood (although we are seeing it more and more in children, specifically in the Western world). Often, type 2 diabetes can be managed and sometimes even reversed with healthy eating and exercise. Here is where turmeric can make its most significant impact. There have been instances of Type 2 diabetics who have been able to reverse their diabetes with a healthy eating plan and exercise. In these instances, eating foods with turmeric like curries, soups, smoothies, and more.
Type 1 and Type 2 are the most common forms of diabetes, but there are a few other instances as well, where people may develop insulin dependency.
Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be but are not yet high enough to be categorized as type 2 diabetes. Not everyone with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, but if not managed and dealt with quickly, many will. There are many long-term complications associated with diabetes. Problems such as heart disease and other issues can even begin during the prediabetic period. However, just like Type 2 diabetes, it can be reversed, and turmeric can play a big part in it.
Turmeric and Its Ability to Help Manage Diabetes
How does this happen?
There have been several studies done across the globe that have shown that the chemical in turmeric -curcumin, can reduce both blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Because diabetes is directly related to blood sugar levels and is often intertwined with inflammation, the act of curcumin being able to bring down these levels is very important.
Protection against developing diabetes
What ‘s interesting here is that because of these anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can also protect the body against the development of prediabetes. In fact, patients who are prediabetic and have started using turmeric -have, in fact, been shown to be less likely to develop diabetes.
Preventing difficult complications as a result of diabetes
Diabetics are often subject to a multitude of health issues as a result of their disease. Yet the compounds in turmeric, specifically the curcumin have been shown to slow down and even prevent some of these issues. Issues such as cholesterol, heart damage, liver disease, and nerve damage.
The following is a detailed list of all the benefits that turmeric has been shown to have in diabetics across the globe:
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Reduce cholesterol levels
- Prevents liver fat accumulation
- Suppress the activities of the white blood cells that cause inflammation
- Improve insulin function by reducing insulin resistance and helping it to enter the cells.
- Protect the beta cells that produce insulin by helping them to grow faster and live longer.
- It provides kidney support by cleansing the creatinine and urea from the blood, which is the central role of the kidneys but one that can become compromised in diabetic patients.
- Fights cancer. Turmeric has been proven to have positive results when it comes to killing cancer cells and preventing more from growing. Specifically, in the stomach, breast, skin, and bowel cancers.
- It improves symptoms of erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow.
- It improves digestion by helping the body to move nutrients and waste through at a faster pace.
- Works as an antioxidant by eliminating the body of free radicals.
Additional Benefits of Turmeric
The above are specific benefits for diabetics, and yet many of them can also be helpful to those not battling insulin dependencies.
So how else can turmeric help the body and our overall health?
For those who do know about the amazing benefits of turmeric, the first thing they can relate it to is its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation occurs in the body for various reasons and presents itself as being hot, red, swollen, and often painful. However, it can also have minimal symptoms and no pain. Either way, though, it means the body is trying to fight off something. The curcumin compound in turmeric is comparable to anti-inflammatory medication, so this means that it is a way to solve all kinds of problems with a natural product that this good for your health and won’t cause side effects.
One of the most exciting aspects of turmeric is how it seems to positively affect cognitive health due to aging, dementia, and other inflammatory brain issues. By being an antioxidant, it helps to fight the free radicals in the brain that cause these issues. It aids in detoxifying the brain of heavy metals and regenerate brain cells. Finally, it has been shown to slow the accumulation of the protein deposits that lead to such conditions.
Heart disease and cholesterol
Once again, it is the curcumin in the turmeric that does all the work. It prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and helps it work better in the body. It keeps the blood vessels healthy and doing their job with ease.
It performs hundreds of different jobs within the body, 500 to be exact! All the sugar that is present in the standard North American diet is something that encourages fatty liver disease. However, curcumin works against it! It can lower liver enzymes that lead to fatty liver disease.
Turmeric helps with rheumatoid arthritis as well as arthritis caused by old age. Once again, those antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that damage the healthy cells that eventually cause joint pain and damage. It’s the curcumin that alleviates the swollen joints and painful stiffness.
One of the properties of turmeric is manganese. This mineral helps maintain proper thyroid function. The thyroid is a gland that regulates hormones, among other things, it is crucial in the body. It also helps to absorb vitamins B and E and magnesium in the body.
Vitamins and minerals
On top of all this, turmeric is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, fiber, vitamin B and E, copper, and potassium. Iron is the big one, though, mainly because most people are under the false belief that iron can only come from red meat. While it is true that there is a lot of iron in red meat, too much red meat is actually bad for your health. So, turmeric makes a great substitute. Plus, it can be mixed in with everything from lentils and vegetables to rice. There are turmeric lattes and so much more.
Want to try a great turmeric latte? These lattes are lovely for alleviating head cold symptoms and providing a general, warm and cozy feeling.
Vegan Turmeric Latte
- 250ml plant-based milk
- 2-3 teaspoons of ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or plant-based butter
- Pinch of salt
- Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top
What to do
- Combine all the above ingredients except the cinnamon into a saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir until hot but not boiling
- Option to put the mixture into a blender to create a frothy texture.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon
- Serve warm or chilled
Enhance the benefits of the turmeric by adding a little ground up black pepper
Prefer to watch a video? Here’s a great one of a quick and easy turmeric latte! Watch it HERE.
The Wrap Up
Finally, turmeric is a fantastic spice that has some pretty incredible health benefits. Diabetes is a disease that seriously compromises your life if it is not well managed. So, learning the benefits of turmeric and how to incorporate them into your life and daily routine has many benefits. Apart from using turmeric in foods and smoothies or lattes, you can also take turmeric supplements if that suits you better. This allows for everyone to find a way to use this magical little anti-inflammatory, glucose regulating spice in the way that suits them best! And again, turmeric is not just for diabetics. Everyone can benefit from the healing power of turmeric!