Type 2 diabetes often begins with an insulin resistance, which causes the pancreas to overwork itself and eventually start producing less insulin. This low production of insulin can cause the blood sugar levels in your body to drop. There is no quick cure or reversal for type 2 diabetes, but you can take steps to make living with it manageable. Natural treatments like following a balanced, clean diet and exercising regularly can help to keep your blood sugar under control. You can also try taking plant-based supplements to regulate your insulin levels naturally, though you should still take diabetes medication if it is prescribed to you. If you experience any adverse effects while taking supplements or your medication, speak to your doctor right away.
EditFollowing a High-Fiber, Low-Fat Diet
- Have high-fiber foods in every meal to lower your glycemic index. Aim to have at least of fiber a day to keep your glycemic index down, as this can then prevent a rise in your blood sugar levels. Have a fist-sized portion of high-fiber foods at each meal.
- Try high-fiber foods like whole grains, legumes, and nuts.
- Add fruits that are high in fiber, like raspberries, pears, apples, bananas, and strawberries to your diet. Vegetables like artichokes, split peas, broccoli, potatoes, turnips, and Brussels sprouts are also high in fiber.
- Beans like lentils, lima beans, and black beans, as well as nuts like almonds, pistachios, and pecans are also good sources of fiber.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and foods high in sugar. Foods made of processed grains can cause a rapid increase in your blood sugar and insulin levels, making your type 2 diabetes worse. Stay away from white bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes.
- You should also avoid foods high in processed sugars, such as cakes, candy, and baked goods.
- Do not consume soda, energy drinks, or bottled juice, as they can be high in sugar.
- Reduce your consumption of animal products. Although there’s conflicting evidence, beef, pork, and chicken may cause your blood sugar to spike. Try to have less meat in your meals or skip meat altogether for 1-2 of your meals each day. Replace meat with foods that are high in fiber and healthy fats.
- You can also try having soy products like tofu instead of meat in your meals.
- Consider switching to a lean meat or mostly high-fiber plant-based diet over time. Start gradually by replacing meat in some of your meals with vegetables, plant-based protein, or grains. Over time, you can try reducing your meat consumption to a few times a week or to just once a week.
- A plant-based diet is also a good way to monitor your weight and stay healthy so your diabetes does not get worse. If you do go with a plant-based diet, you’ll need to keep track of your B-12 and fat intake to avoid a deficiency.
- Speak to a nutritionist about a diabetes-friendly diet. If you are not sure how to best adjust your diet to treat type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor to refer you to a nutritionist. They can then create a custom diet for you based on your eating habits and preferences. They can also recommend certain meals so you get enough fiber, carbohydrates, and protein in your diet.
- Many nutritionists are trained in treating diabetes through diet. They should be able to provide you with lots of resources and support. Keep in mind you cannot treat diabetes with diet changes alone. You’ll also need to make lifestyle changes, like exercising more, as well.
- Check your blood sugar before you exercise. Physical activity can lower your blood sugar, so always do a check before you get moving. Use a glucometer to test your blood sugar to ensure it is within the normal range for type 2 diabetes.
- If your blood sugar is low, have a small snack like fruit, nuts, or a low-sugar protein bar before you exercise. Then, test your blood sugar again to ensure it is within the normal range.
- Test your blood sugar after you exercise to make sure it’s in a healthy range.
- Do aerobic exercises like walking, running, swimming or biking. Exercises that get your heart pumping and make you sweat are ideal for staying fit and healthy. Try to do aerobic exercises at least 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. Make physical activity part of your daily routine.
- Stay fit by joining a gym that has a pool so you can swim several times a week. You can also bike to and from work every day or take a spin class several times a week. Walk or run in the morning or at night to get your aerobic exercise in.
- Try weightlifting 2-3 times a week. In addition to aerobic exercises, you should also add weight training to your workout routine so you are doing a variety of movements. Follow a weightlifting program at your gym or at home so you build up your strength gradually.
- Do yoga to stay relaxed. Yoga is a good way to reduce your stress levels, as high stress can make your diabetes worse. Yoga can also help you to stretch your muscles and stay flexible to balance out aerobic exercise you may be doing. Sign up for a yoga class at a local studio or your gym and go 2-3 times a week, or on the days you are not doing aerobic exercise.
- Work with a trainer to develop an exercise program. If you are not sure where to start when it comes to exercise, speak to a trainer at your gym. Seek out a trainer who has worked with diabetic clients in the past. Ask them for guidance on how to work out when you have type 2 diabetes. They can then create a custom fitness plan for you to ensure you stay healthy and fit.
EditTaking Plant-Based Supplements
- Speak to your doctor before taking supplements for diabetes. Some supplements can actually cause your blood sugar levels to drop dangerously low or interact badly with prescription medication for diabetes. Before you have any supplements, check with your doctor first to confirm it is safe. Discuss the exact supplements you plan to take as well as the proper dosage.
- Natural supplements are not considered reliable treatments for diabetes. Your doctor may be skeptical that the supplements will work.
- Keep in mind you cannot treat your type 2 diabetes with supplements alone. Making lifestyle and diet changes and taking medication are usually the best ways to treat the issue.
- Only take one plant-based supplement at a time.
- Try herbal supplements like aloe vera, fenugreek, and ginger to get more fiber. Herbs like aloe vera, fenugreek, and ginger are high in fiber and may help your body process sugars properly. Look for them in supplement form at your local health food store or online so you can take them orally.
- You can also add ginger root to food you cook or prepare at home.
- Have bitter melon and bilberry extract to help reduce your glucose levels naturally. Check at your local health food store or online for supplements that contain these plants.
- Try cinnamon extract to help lower your glucose levels. Look for cinnamon as an extract in pill form or add powdered cinnamon to your diet.
- Have vitamin B-1 to help keep your thiamine levels high. High thiamine may reduce your chances of developing complications from diabetes. Look for vitamin B-1 supplements that are lipid-soluble, as this will ensure your body absorbs it properly.
- Keep in mind vitamin B-1 supplements have been shown to have no effect on improving diabetes.
- Take low doses of chromium to help your body metabolize carbohydrates. It may also keep your blood sugar levels low. Have very low doses of chromium, as too much may make your blood sugar levels drop too low.
- Having too much chromium can also put you at risk of developing kidney issues.
- Take magnesium supplements to regulate your blood pressure. This supplement may also keep your insulin levels more balanced. Look into magnesium supplements to ensure you are getting enough magnesium in your diet.
- You can also add magnesium high foods to your diet to help treat your diabetes, like spinach, chard, yogurt, almonds, and black beans.
- Drink ginseng tea for a natural anti-diabetic. Asian ginseng may improve your blood sugar levels naturally. You can consume ginseng as an oral supplement or as a tea. Look for ginseng at your local health food store or online.
- Verify the supplements are legitimate before taking them. Check the ingredients label to confirm the herb or plant is listed as the first ingredient and that it contains mostly herbs or plants. Look up the manufacturer of the supplement to confirm they have public contact information and are a legitimate company. Note if the supplement has been tested by a third party. Read reviews of the supplement online to confirm it is safe to use.
- Buy supplements online that are reputable or get them at your local health food store.
- Follow the dosage instructions on the label. Never take more than recommended.
- Avoid supplements that contain chemicals, preservatives, additives, or dyes.
- Do not stop taking your diabetes medication while taking supplements. Continue to take insulin and other medications prescribed to you for your diabetes by your doctor. Not taking your medication can cause your diabetes to get worse or put you at risk of other health issues.
- Your doctor should confirm it is safe for you to take your prescription medication and supplements at the same time. They may check in with you regularly to make sure you are not experiencing any adverse effects while taking supplements for your diabetes.