Herbs - Spices - Sugars - Diabetes
From Journal of Medicinal Foods with Dr. Mercola
Herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants, and they are also potent inhibitors of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar.
When researchers tested extracts from 24 common herbs and spices, they found a direct correlation between antioxidant phenol content and the ability of the extracts to block the formation of compounds that contribute to damage caused by diabetes and aging.
Spices such as cloves and cinnamon have phenol levels that are 30 percent and 18 percent of dry weight, respectively, while herbs such as oregano and sage are 8 and 6 percent phenol by dry weight. Blueberries, which are widely touted for their antioxidant capabilities, contain roughly 5 percent phenol by dry weight.
Journal of Medicinal Foods June 2008; 11(2):275-81
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Any molecule in your body is capable of causing damage, but probably the most damaging of all are glucose and other sugar molecules. They cause more inflammation that leads to heart disease than cholesterol could ever hope to.
How Does High Blood Sugar Cause Tissue Damage and Heart Disease?
Glucose and other sugar molecules cause glycation; a process in which the sugar bonds with proteins and form so-called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. It's a fitting acronym as it - along with oxidation -- is one of the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body, which leads to disease, aging, and eventually, death.
When sugar glycates it creates inflammation, which activates your immune system in a defensive maneuver. Macrophages are scavenger cells that are part of your immune defense system, and as such they have special receptors for AGEs, aptly called RAGEs (think: raging inflammation). These RAGEs bind to the AGEs and get rid of them. Unfortunately, this process can leave its fair share of battle scars.
Essentially, when you consume excess sugar you tend to produce and accumulate AGEs, which frequently lead to raging inflammation, which leads to damage in your arteries. The damage control ultimately takes its toll and you begin to form scar tissue, which inside your arteries is called plaque.
And, voila! -- Heart disease.
This is why there's such a strong correlation between diabetes and heart disease - and shortened lifespan.
People with Type 2 diabetes get heart disease about 15 years earlier than non-diabetics, and also lose about 18 years from their expected life span, according to findings from hospital and death records of close to 9.5 million Canadians.
How Common Spices Can Protect Against Heart Disease and the Ravages of Aging
This study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Medicinal Foods, found a strong and direct correlation between the phenol content of common herbs and spices and their ability to inhibit glycation and the formation of AGE compounds, making them potent preventers of heart disease and premature aging.
The top 10 most potent herbs and spices are:
- Cloves (ground)
- Cinnamon (ground)
- Jamaican allspice (ground)
- Apple pie spice (mixture)
- Oregano (ground)
- Pumpkin pie spice (mixture)
- Gourmet Italian spice
This is not the first time scientists have declared culinary herbs and spices as potent anti-diabetic alternatives.
Cinnamon and cinnamon extracts have previously been shown to effectively lower blood sugar. As a matter of fact, cinnamon was found to increase glucose metabolism 20-fold, in one such study!
Interestingly, cinnamon lowers your blood sugar by acting on several different levels. It slows the emptying of your stomach to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar following meals, and improves the effectiveness, or sensitivity, of insulin. It also enhances your antioxidant defenses.
Researchers have even gone so far as to say cinnamon could play the role of an insulin substitute in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
1 in 4 Americans Now Suffer From Pre-Diabetes or Some Form of Diabetes
The latest statistics on diabetes indicate that the U.S. now has as many as 24 million people with diabetes, or 8 percent of our total population. However, the statistics are even more grim when it comes to the prevalence of pre-diabetes (impaired fasting glucose).
Almost 26 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 20 are pre-diabetics, and more than 35 percent of seniors, 60 and older. In total, that's 57 million Americans walking around with pre-diabetes, in addition to the 24 million that have already crossed the line.
That means that just over 26.5 percent of the entire U.S. population either has pre-diabetes, or some form of diabetes!
My personal experience with diabetes and review of the literature has made it VERY clear to me that virtually every case of type 2 diabetes is 100 percent reversible without the use of prescription drugs.
And let me assure you, the cure for type 2 diabetes has NOTHING to do with giving insulin. Giving someone insulin with type 2 diabetes is one of the WORST things that can be done. Any physician doing this for type 2 diabetes is suffering from profound ignorance of insulin physiology.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of physicians are still seriously confused about this issue, which is why most doctors cause diabetics to D. I. E.
How to Prevent Diabetes and Heart Disease, and Increase Longevity
First things first: For people with diabetes, the last thing you want to eat is a lot of grains, or any sugar for that matter.
Swap out your grains and sugar for high-quality sources of protein, healthy fat (which INCLUDES saturated fat) and vegetables according to your nutritional type, all of which is outlined in my Take Control of Your Health Program, and you'll be off to a great start.
Add in regular exercise, the other essential key to preventing and reversing diabetes, and you'll be even better off. These two measures alone will help you to shed excess weight, and a weight loss of 10 pounds can reduce your risk of diabetes by nearly 60 percent.
Last but not least, why not add some spice to your life?
Herbs and spices have very low calorie content, they're relatively inexpensive, and they're a great way to turbo-boost the natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of your diet!
Tons of benefits and zero hazardous side effects. It doesn't get any better than that, which is why I keep advocating for the return to a healthy whole food diet that is tailored for your individual biochemistry, rather than stocking up on a cabinet-full of (often synthetic) supplements.
Set up a good herb and spice cabinet and season your food liberally, and you could potentially double or even triple the medicinal value of your meal.