Presence of bioactive compounds (polyphenol, flavonoid, and anti-oxidants) in different herbs and spices help prevent chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, renal disease and many more.
Since ancient time, consumption of herbs and spices were well known for its medicinal properties with over 80 spices grown in different parts of the world especially in Asia.
India is ‘home to spices’ that are used prominently in traditional medicine practice.
According to WHO around 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine in primary health care. The prevalence of herbs as medicine is evident in Europe, Germany, and India.
Type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder in which enough insulin is not produced/released to regulate blood sugar levels. This high level of sugar in blood further promotes inflammation.
Research work has shown that the anti-inflammatory effects of natural herbs and spices block the formation of inflammatory compounds.
Use of antibiotics comes with many side effects, and this has led to a comeback of naturally grown herbs and spices to counter side effects of antibiotics.
Here’s a list of Herbs and Spices helps manage Diabetes Naturally:
Bay leaves, Cinnamon, Fenugreek seeds, Fenugreek leaves, Green tea, Coriander, Garlic, Aloe Vera, Basil leaves, Guduchi, Ginger, and Oregano respectively.
- Bay Leaves: It belongs to Lauraceae family which is native to India, Nepal, Bhutan, and China.
A study showed that consumption of bay leaves (tej patta) helps lower serum cholesterol in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.
Bay leaves increase serum HDL cholesterol, decrease serum triglycerides, reduces serum glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.
Use of 1-3 g bay leaves for 30 days lowered the risk of diabetes and associated cardiovascular disease in a human study.
How to include it: Add to your food while cooking as a seasoning for flavor.
2. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a spice and enhances insulin release from pancreas. There’s no long recipe for it though- you just have to add ¼ tsp of it to your tea, smoothie, coffee, and juices.
According to Hargrove, PhD herbs and spices are powerful sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory factor. Also adding a teaspoon of cinnamon in your food is enough to reap its health benefits.The newly published study by Hargrove and colleagues appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food.
How to include it: Try adding cinnamon powder to soups, shakes, coffee, juices and pasta dishes.
3. Fenugreek: It belongs to Fabaceae family
Fenugreek seeds (known as methi in Hindi) have in them antibiotic properties that are responsible for lowering blood sugar and lipid levels.
The therapeutic potential of fenugreek is primarily due to the presence of high fiber content, saponins, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, and trigonelline, and an alkaloid.
The anti-hyperglycemic effect of fenugreek has been hypothesized to be due to the amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine which acts by the enhancement of insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in peripheral tissues.
Health benefits of fenugreek seeds have been showed in both human and animal trials. In a study fenugreek have been reported to reduce blood glucose levels. Also a considerable increment of the area of insulin-immunoreactive β-cells has been reported.
How to include it: They also add flavor to the foods and have pungent aroma.
You can soak 1tbs of fenugreek seeds overnight in one glass of water and drink that water next morning daily. You can also chew the seeds or add it to the food. Vegetable prepared from fenugreek leaves also add flavor and provide health benefits.
4. Green tea: Green tea belongs to Theaceae family native to East Asia.
While we are on this topic of natural herbal remedies, it’s worth mentioning another important natural herb that can help you on your way to manage diabetes and boosts metabolism.
Green tea is a part of traditional remedies in China for wound healing, improves heart function, boosts metabolism and improve type diabetes.
Green tea is considered one of the world’s healthiest beverages and is packed with highest amount of antioxidants than any other tea.
Presence of polyphenols in green tea provides anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects.
The most studied polyphenol in green tea is Epigallocatechin- 3- Gallate (EGCG). Green tea increases secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
Studies concerning the effect of green tea on diabetes have been inconsistent. Some studies have shown to lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes for green tea drinkers than for those who consumed no tea.
While other studies have reported no association between green tea consumption and diabetes at all.
5. Coriander: It belongs to Apiaceae family
Coriander is also known as dhaniya (in India), Chinese parsley and cilantro. Coriander (both the leaves and seed) is rich in antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice.
A study found that along with coriander seeds the leaves were found to have a stronger effect. It also lowers blood sugar levels. You can spice up your meal with healthy coriander powder while sautéing.
How to include it: You can put coriander powder while preparing vegetables when frying or sautéing.
6. Garlic: It belongs to Alliacea family
Garlic is a miraculous plant that helps lower fasting blood sugar levels due to bioactive compounds such as allicin, ajoene, an organosulphur compound. Consumption of garlic helps alleviate CVD complications related to diabetes.
If taken with curcumin (an active compound in turmeric) and ginger have anti-hyperglycemic effects in a study done in rats.
Consumption of garlic as a spice is used in culinary world to add flavor to the food. Whereas, consumption of raw garlic improves oxidative stress and insulin sensitivity in a study done on fructose-fed rats.
It also helps to enhance thiamine (vitamin B1) absorption in the body and prevents beriberi.
Tip: Before consumption of garlic chop or crush it as allicin works best when in contact with oxygen.
Word of advice: Those on insulin should consult a physician before consumption of garlic. Garlic being a potent herb can interfere with your medication so try eating one clove at one time.
7. Aloe Vera: It belongs to Liliaceae family
The plant can be separated into two basic products: gel and latex. Bioactive compound present in Aloe Vera has an antidiabetic potential. They stimulate Langerhans cells to release more insulin from the pancreas and improve blood circulation.
Two clinical studies concluded, “There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that oral administration of Aloe Vera might be effective in reducing blood glucose in diabetic patients and in lowering blood lipid levels in hyperlipidemia”.
8. Holi Basil: It belongs to Lamiaceae family native to India.
There all kinds of natural remedies you can use to prevent diabetes and basil leaves (tulsi) is one of the best. They have a bunch of phytonutrients (such as antioxidants, flavanol) chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals in it.
Moreover, it has got Eugenol, a bioactive compound that stimulates insulin secretion and has a glucose lowering effect. I use it in my diet because it also has anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and reduces stress.
How to include it: You can chew 4-5 fresh basil leaves early morning daily. It can be infused in your morning herbal tea that helps lower plasma glucose levels. It also forms the important ingredient of pesto recipes.
9. Guduchi: It belongs to Menispermaceae family indigenous to India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Guduchi or T. cordifolia forms a prominent part of Indian Ayurveda (an ancient medicine practice) for managing diabetes. Guduchi root extract (400mg/kg) lowered blood glucose levels in rats (alloxan diabetic) when taken orally in aqueous form.
Another study in rodents showed that daily consumption of Guduchi has antihypertensive effect that reduced high levels of blood glucose and increased blood glucose levels and glucose tolerance.
10. Ginger: It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family
Ginger is an important spice in Indian kitchen since ancient times. The active compound in ginger is gingerols and shogaol.
International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition in 2011 included a study to compare the abilities of various extraction methods of ginger to inhibit enzymes relevant to type 2 diabetes and inflammation. In particular, ginger contain a bioactive compound that aids in diabetes management.
According to a 2009 study published in European Journal of Pharmacology serotonin receptor systems are involved in modulating insulin releases and ginger extracts can be used to improve diabetic symptoms.
Tip: You can add ginger in your daily diet by adding grated ginger over your recipes and can also drink ginger infused water and ginger tea.
11. Oregano: It belongs to mint family (Lamiaceae)
A spicy perennial herb native to Italy, Mexico, Greek and Argentinian cuisines.
Oregano contains polyphenol antioxidants that are one of the best sources of antioxidants that scavenge free radicals.
It is also rich in essential oils such as Carvacrol, Thymol, Pinene, and Thymol. It also helps lowering blood sugar levels. Oregano is used as a seasoning agent on dishes.
Word of Advice: There is no single food that is a magic food for a healthy body. To achieve your health goals along with the top herbs and spices, eat a well-balanced diet, work out regularly, make healthy lifestyle changes, and do gratitude exercise.
Have you ever tried any herbs and spices in your diet? Do share your reviews on its health benefits.