Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition whereby a person’s blood sugar levels keep rising. Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in blood. The body obtains blood sugar from eating food and it is needed for energy and nutrients. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels that supply vital organs, however.
Ordinarily, the pancreas – an organ located in the abdomen – is tasked with secreting insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
If you have type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not provide enough insulin to regulate blood sugar or the insulin it does produce is not sufficiently absorbed by the cells.
As a result, diabetics are disproportionately at risk of high blood sugar levels.
There are ways you can compensate for insufficient insulin production, however.
You can lower your blood sugar levels by making healthy dietary decisions.
Evidence shows that specific dietary items boast blood sugar-lowering properties.
Bilberries – small, blue berries native to Northern Europe – have attracted the attention of researchers for this reason.
In fact, bilberries are a popular herbal remedy used to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, research shows.
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One study reported that a bilberry extract reduced blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes more effectively than a placebo.
The extract provided the equivalent of 50 grams of fresh bilberries.
Another eight-week study showed that a diet enriched with fresh bilberries increased insulin secretion in adults with metabolic syndrome; a cluster of conditions that increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Experts believe that the berries prevent the breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates in your gut, similarly to some blood-sugar-lowering medications.
Carbs can cause blood sugar spikes because they are broken down into glucose relatively fast.
Animal studies suggest that the anthocyanins in bilberries may also stimulate the secretion of insulin.
General tips to lower blood sugar
In addition to reducing your carb intake and adding bilberries to your diet, you should engage in physical exercise.
“You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week,” advises the NHS.
You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath.
Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising – this is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:
- 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.
The NHS recommends seeing a GP if:
- You have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes
- You’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
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