Oh Sugar, Sugar!
Summer is quickly approaching and that’s great news—especially for those that enjoy all the thrills the warm weather brings: swimming, camping, hiking, fishing, boating, etc.! Along with all that summer fun come lots of sweet treats. From ice cream to cotton candy to sweet tea, it seems there are endless possibilities to satisfy that sweet tooth during the warm months. But, while it’s OK to enjoy those things from time to time, we all know that indulging in these things regularly can wreak havoc on our blood sugar.
Fortunately, there are quite a few supplements that can help not only curb our appetite for sugar, but they can also help metabolize sugar for the least impact on our blood glucose levels. That’s a good thing as maintaining stable blood sugar levels is best for optimal health and prevention of future, more serious, blood sugar concerns. And, did you know that there’s an herb that can help inhibit the sweetness of foods? That’s right! It actually helps you not to taste the sweetness of sugary foods to help curb cravings for them. That could be just what is needed for someone with an insatiable sweet tooth! Read on to find out which supplement might be right for you if you struggle with the moderation of sweet treats.
Gymnema Sylvestre is an herb which can be very useful to help curb sugar consumption. It works by preventing sugar from being absorbed during digestion. It also has been shown to be an effective appetite suppressant when taken about an hour before eating. In addition, studies show that it improves insulin production which, of course, helps the body manage sugar. But it can also help by inhibiting the sweet taste we experience in our mouths from sweet foods—it contains acids called gymnemic acids which help to reduce the sweetness that we taste when we eat. 
Cinnamon is familiar to all of us as a wonderful addition to many recipes. But did you know that it’s full of antioxidants? And that it’s an excellent anti-inflammatory? It’s also getting a reputation as being a great way to reduce blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. Keeping blood sugar in mind is a good idea even if you’re not diabetic. Keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range and avoiding spikes helps keep your metabolism chugging happily along. Avoiding crashes and spikes can lead to increased overall health and well-being. A 2020 study showed that cinnamon can reduce high fasting glucose levels while also helping to reduce the typical sugar spike seen after consuming a meal high in carbohydrates. What’s just as exciting is that no side effects were reported. All this while also helping to normalize HbA1c. 
Berberine is a naturally occurring chemical found in several plants including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, greater celandine, and tree turmeric. Like the previously mentioned supplements, berberine has also been shown to lower insulin resistance and reduce fasting blood sugar. In studies, it was proven to rival popular medication to manage blood sugar in more serious blood sugar management health issues. In a mouse model of type 2 diabetes, berberine was shown to reduce fasting blood glucose and fasting serum insulin. It also increased insulin sensitivity which illustrates its ability to help manage glucose regulation. [3, 5]
Chromium is a necessary trace element found in many foods and in some supplements. Science is finding that chromium seems to be required for optimal function of insulin. There is a correlation between low chromium levels and an increased risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. While plenty of people are low in this mineral which is essential for many bodily functions, those who are very physically active, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who consume a lot of sugar tend to be most at risk for having low levels. Chromium helps to encourage the uptake of sugar in the body’s cells which, in turn, reduces the amount of sugar in the blood. There is some evidence that suggests that chromium may help reduce insulin resistance, as well. Some foods that contain chromium are green beans, broccoli, poultry, lean beef and whole grains. A 2014 study showed that chromium has a positive effect on both fasting blood sugar and total cholesterol. A subsequent 2016 study reaffirmed this data. [4, 6, 7]
Summer is a great time to get outside and to get in shape. Don’t let sugar get in the way of your goals. If you’re struggling with sugar addiction, this is a great time to tackle it with some of these natural tools listed. Moderation truly is the key when it comes to sweets, so get out there and enjoy summer and some of the extra sweetness it has to offer.
- Effect of Gymnema sylvestre Administration on Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Sensitivity, and Insulin Secretion – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Influence of Cinnamon on Glycemic Control in Individuals With Prediabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial | Journal of the Endocrine Society | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
- Complex Benefits of Berberine: Blood Pressure, Diabetes and Cholesterol Reduction (restorativemedicine.org)
- [Chromium supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes and high risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials] – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effects of berberine on glucose metabolism in vitro – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Chromium supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes and high risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials]. – Wellness Resources
- Chromium deficiency and cardiovascular risk. – Wellness Resources
The information provided here is for educational purposes only. None of the research or evidence presented here is intended as a substitute for consulting an appropriate healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you believe that you may have a disease condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using this or any other dietary supplement.