The Great Indian Spices and their role in Diabetes Management

March 28, 2021
By Ekta Chheda,

India is now infamously known as the Diabetic capital of the world.

The only positive aspect of this chronic ailment is that it can be managed, controlled and reversed at the right stage. By following a healthy lifestyle and inculcating habits of a healthy diet, one can control the symptoms of Diabetes. Experts advise inculcating healthy eating habits, including physical activity like exercise and reducing activities that build up stress. If maintained correctly, all these tips help get the best of proper medical treatment.

A lot of research has been conducted in recent times with regards to lifestyle and healthy diet changes to reverse and/or control diabetes in a better way. Many new app companies are looking to focus on chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases to bring about a sustainable impact on people – one such is Smit Fit

India is an ancient country that is home to many traditional spices which are bounteously used across various cultural cuisines. The good news is – these traditional Indian spices have a rather important role to play in managing blood sugar levels and rendering several health benefits. Let’s dive deeper into our kitchen spice-box and understand their benefits in diabetes management.

1. Turmeric (Haldi) : This golden spice is widely famous for its numerous health benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and enhances immunity. Research has shown that Curcumin – the active compound in turmeric, reduces the effect of enzymes that break down the carbohydrates from food into glucose – which results in a decrease in blood glucose levels and hence better diabetes management. For instance, one way to keep a track of sugar levels is by Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), explained in the video here.

Pro Tip : The best part about this spice is its usability. It finds its way into practically all Indian dishes. Additionally, turmeric milk, fresh homemade herbal tea with turmeric can also be included as a part of your daily diet.

2. Cinnamon (Dalchini) : This exotic Indian spice contains bioactive components that help in lowering blood sugar levels. The phenolic compound present in cinnamon has shown to have insulin potentiating activity by increasing insulin sensitivity – which is required in diabetes management. Cinnamon is also known to benefit the heart – which is important in a cluster of metabolic diseases.

Pro Tip : Cinnamon can be powdered and added to tea, coffee, milk, smoothies, and flavoured water to incorporate it into your diet for maximum benefits in managing diabetes.

3. Ginger (Adrak) : This versatile spice that improves insulin sensitivity acts as an anti-oxidant and fosters hypoglycemic activity. It also increases insulin levels, thus helping reduce blood glucose levels.

Pro Tip : To include ginger in an everyday balanced diet, make it into a paste and add to tea, curries, vegetables and parathas.

4. Fenugreek (Methi seeds) : Fenugreek seeds are the most common go-to remedy for reducing blood sugar levels. The fibre content slows down the absorption and release of sugar in the blood. Research shows that these seeds improve metabolic symptoms associated with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes by improving glucose tolerance, rendering promising benefits in diabetes management.

Pro Tip : About 1 tbsp of soaked fenugreek (methi) seeds can be consumed in the morning, can be added to some Indian dishes, or in powdered form added in small quantities to rotis and parathas and thus making it a part of a healthy diet.

5. Curry leaves : These aromatic leaves used in the seasoning of Indian dishes help in maintaining normal glucose levels. The hypoglycemic properties cause better control of fasting and postprandial glucose levels. In addition, curry leaves also reduce cholesterol and give additional heart benefits.

Pro Tip : Use curry leaves as a seasoning in practically all Indian dals, curries, and vegetables.

6. Clove (Laung) : Cloves help in reducing blood sugar levels by promoting and enhancing insulin production. They also exert anti-inflammatory functions – which help in managing diabetes-induced complications in some people.

Pro Tip : The strongly flavoured cloves can be added to herbal teas and decoctions, along with seasoning for curries, dals and other dishes.
Lately, commercial versions of the bioactive compound present in the spices are now available in the form of nutraceutical supplements and concentrate. They may be useful in very specific clinical conditions. However, the best way is to consume these spices for overall health betterment is in their most natural form – straight from the kitchen and into our food. Including a daily dose of these spices in our diet is an inexpensive and simple way to manage and control blood sugar levels. Let us go back to our roots and avail the maximum benefits of the native gift of our country – the spices!

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