Type 2 diabetes is far more threatening than initially meets the eye because there are usually no symptoms that accompany it. Under the surface, the pancreas is not performing properly – it is not producing enough insulin to regulate blood sugar or the insulin it does produce is not being taken up by the cells. This presents a serious threat because insulin regulates blood sugar (the main type of sugar found in blood).
The body needs blood sugar because it is an important source of energy and provides nutrients.
Too much blood sugar can seriously damage parts of your body, including your feet and your eyes, so it is important to keep it in check.
Without the moderating influence of insulin, you can find recourse in the foods you eat.
It is important to consider your overall approach but evidence does single out specific items for their blood sugar-lowering effects.
One lesser-known ingredient is the nopal cactus, more commonly known as the prickly pear cactus, which is found natively in the southwestern regions of the United States and in Mexico.
The flat cactus pads can be eaten when the plant is young and is often added to dishes.
Consuming this plant ingredient has been shown to provide several health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels.
The authors of a small study tested the effects of nopal on 14 people with type 2 diabetes.
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The participants were divided into two groups of participants and instructed to eat a high carbohydrate breakfast – one group consumed nopal with their breakfast, while the other did not.
The nopal group had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels after the meal when researchers compared them with the participants who did not have nopal.
Strengthening the association, an article published in the journal ISRN Pharmacology recommends taking nopal cactus together with other diabetes medications to help regulate blood sugar.
It is not exactly clear what mechanisms cause the reduction in blood sugar but nopal cactus is a great source of fibre.
“In people with diabetes, fibre — particularly soluble fibre — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels,” explains Mayo Clinic.
According to the health body, a healthy diet that includes insoluble fibre may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Soluble fibre means it dissolves in water and insoluble signals it doesn’t dissolve in water.
General dietary tips
There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
The worst are foods high in carbohydrate content because carb is broken down into glucose relatively fast.
This means it has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than protein.
Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it
Symptoms are often subtle or nonexistent in the beginning but there are some telltale signs to watch out for.
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision.
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