Do you have a sweet tooth? Love chocolate? Or do you have diabetes?

If you've answered yes to any of these then you need help to control what sugar is doing in your body. Many of the tricks used by diabetics to improve their health can also be used by people who simply love the taste of naughty foods at the very top of the healthy food pyramid.

Diabetes is a disease characterised by hyperglycaemia (too much sugar in the blood). It comes about through lack of insulin or insulin not being effective enough.

Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas in response to food being eaten. It regulates glucose (sugar) in the blood by transporting it into cells where it is burnt for energy. When there isn't enough insulin or it doesn't work properly then we get hyperglycaemia. Excess sugar in the blood causes irreversible damage to arteries, kidneys, eyes and the brain. So you can see why it is important to control blood sugar if you have diabetes or even if you have a sweet tooth. Although the main control of blood sugar comes through modifying the diet there are some supplements, which can help with glucose metabolism. These key ingredients are often found to be lacking in people with diabetes or other glucose intolerance problems so if they are increased in the body many people will find that their bodies use glucose more effectively and possible avoid the long term damage which occurs from hyperglycaemia.

CHROMIUM

Chromium is the major mineral used in the production of insulin. When your body doesn't get enough chromium your blood sugar is not maintained in a healthy way. As well as insulin production chromium also has a role in activating enzymes involved in the metabolism of glucose and the manufacture of proteins. Insulin also controls fat and muscle. So when insulin metabolism is low due to a lack of chromium in food it can mean an increase in fat on the body. Many people with diabetes have a problem with weight control. Insulin production, putting on weight and fat are all interlinked with the amount of chromium in the body.

Even being moderately overweight dramatically increases the risk of developing diabetes.

The good news is that supplementing your diet with chromium not only helps the production and effective uses of insulin it can help overweight people lose fat too. Human beings require about 200mcg of chromium piccolinate per day and 600mcg or more if they exercise or are trying to lose weight. Using the piccolinate is important, as other forms of chromium at that level are toxic. We can get some of that from our food but nowhere near the amount required if you are diabetic. The main food sources are Brewer's yeast, beer, meat (esp liver), cheese, whole grain cereals and whole grain bread.

To help you along you can take Kyolic with chromium and zinc. This provides 840mcg of chromium piccolinate per capsule, which is ideal if you are diabetic, overweight, or eat a lot of sugary foods.

VITAMIN AND MAGNESIUM

Another key supplement for diabetics is Vitamin E. Long term damage to small blood vessels in the kidney and eyes is a constant worry in diabetes. Damage from sugar occurs mainly by oxidation of fat molecules into toxic lipid peroxides. These toxic molecules can be counteracted by the antioxidant properties of vitamin E. The garlic in the Kyolic chromium and zinc formula also provides antioxidant functions.
Magnesium also plays a role in proper insulin production. It stabilizes the enzymes, which produce energy in cells so is involved in energy regulation and metabolism. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is important ion the metabolism of glucose and therefore energy production. We can get it in our food from cheese, yoghurt, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts and nuts. Although we get both chromium and riboflavin from food, processing and cooking destroys a large portion of it, e.g. 25% of vitamin B2 is lost during cooking and about 75% of chromium is removed from white flour and white rice in the milling and refining process. This is why supplements are useful.

SUMMARY

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, or if you binge on sugary foods and chocolate you don't have to take high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) lying down. If fact strengthening your muscles and losing fat with a bit of exercise will really help. Follow your doctor's diet and medication advice and take advantage of the Gisborne Diabetic Society. As far as supplements go chromium is the key. Chromium improves insulin metabolism, reduces body fat and increases muscle mass. You can get it in Kyolic chromium and zinc (blue) formula and Nature's Own SucroBalance.

So if you have a sweet tooth, love chocolate or have diabetes why not provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help blood sugar control.