Fatigue, weight gain, sugar cravings...these are just a few of the concerns that can set in if blood sugar is out of balance, cautions Jillian Levy, CHHC, in How to Maintain Normal Blood Sugar

If left unmanaged, as the experts at Curalife explain in 6 Easy Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels, elevated blood sugar can lead to serious conditions like diabetes. That’s a major concern in the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control, 37.3% million people have diabetes. A staggering 96 million people aged 18 years or older have prediabetes.

Cognitive function is also a concern. As Austin Perlmutter, M.D., explained in The Future of Mental and Brain Health, his keynote session at the Naturally Informed virtual event Stress & Mental Wellness: Mastering the Market, there is a link between the effects of blood sugar and brain health. Indeed, research has linked problems managing blood sugar to a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia. 

Clearly, we need to pay more attention to blood sugar control, and raise awareness about how to manage levels.

Natural Ways to Support Healthy Blood Sugar Control

Of course, for diabetics or those significant concerns about blood sugar, it’s important to consult one’s personal healthcare practitioner and to make lifestyle adjustments (see box at right). That said, supplements can offer an assist. A few of nature’s helpers:

Berberine: This natural ingredient activates an enzyme within cells called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is important to the body’s metabolism, the experts at Enzymedica share. Studies have shown that berberine, along with a healthy lifestyle, can support healthy insulin sensitivity. A study of individuals with metabolic syndrome took 3/500-mg Berberine HCL capsules per day in divided doses for 90 days. “Compared to the placebo group, there were significant benefits in regards to healthy waist circumference, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity,” says Julia Craven, VP of Education for Enzymedica. To learn more, watch Berberine: The Master Metabolism Herb.

Chromium: This nutrient has been shown to play a role in supporting insulin-signaling pathways. Levy explains: “Chromium can help enhance the role of insulin, the critical hormone that controls blood sugar and helps bring glucose into cells where it is used for bodily storage.” 

French Maritime Pine Bark: Branded as Pycnogenol from Horphag Research, this supplement has been shown to reduce metabolic syndrome factors, including waistline obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. It is backed by a body of research showing its benefits for normalizing fasting blood glucose levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates to lower the glucose load in the bloodstream.

Turmeric: This herb has properties to support a healthy inflammation response, which helps support healthy blood sugar and other health markers, according to the makers of Curalin, which is designed to promote balanced glucose levels and reduces cravings for sugar and carbs.

Wheatgrass: The experts at Wakunaga of America explain: “This juice bar staple is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids...Wheatgrass is a powerful source of glutathione, known as the ‘master’ antioxidant. It’s little wonder that preliminary research has found that it reduces oxidative damage to cells. Other studies suggest that wheatgrass may support healthy cholesterol levels, aid in balancing blood sugar, counter an inappropriate inflammatory response, and induce the destruction of damaged or abnormal cells.”

For more blood sugar helpers, read Winning with Weight Wellness on page 30 of this issue, and Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Naturally on WholeFoodsMagazine.com, or search “blood sugar” on the WholeFoods website for the latest research and innovations. WF

Lifestyle Strategies to Manage Blood Sugar

A healthy lifestyle is the key to managing blood sugar. Dr. Perlmutter outlines the basics in The Hidden Influence of Blood Sugar on Brain Health:

Regular exercise: Movement positively impacts blood sugar stability and seems to have an especially positive effect on brain energy metabolism, Dr. Perlmutter reports.

A balanced diet: Avoiding ultra-processed foods with added sugars and instead favoring a diet high in whole, real foods may help regulate healthier blood sugar levels.

Stress management: “Stress revs up cortisol, which may damage blood sugar balance,” Dr. Perlmutter explains. “Finding ways to mitigate chronic stress may therefore help keep blood sugar levels more