Diabetes Supplements

Fenugreek And Diabetes: Blood Sugar Levels Effects

There are millions of people who suffer the dreadful complications of diabetes. The disease is known to cause problems with several parts of the body.

Patients with diabetes suffer from fatigue and poor energy. Physical weakness is another common complaint among people with diabetes. 

More severe complications include eye damage, kidney damage, neuropathy, and even heart disease1. Diabetes is also a leading cause of lower-limb amputations. 

There are several ways to treat the condition. A lot of people are looking for more natural approaches to taking control of their diabetes. 

Fenugreek is a natural remedy often suggested for people with diabetes. The plant can be used in the preparation of food. It is also often added to supplements. We look at what fenugreek is in this post. We also consider how the plant extract might be helpful for diabetic patients. 

What Is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is a plant. The scientific name for the plant is Trigonella foenum-graecum. The plant grows up to three feet tall. It has white flowers that are small in size. Fenugreek leaves are green.

It is often described as a herb. The seeds of the Fenugreek plant are most commonly used. Other parts of the plant may also be used in some cases. 

Fenugreek is a herb that is sometimes added to food. There are also many medicinal uses for this plant. Fenugreek has been associated with quite an impressive list of potential health benefits. Some people add it to their meals. Others take a supplement. These supplements contain extracts of the fenugreek plant. This mainly includes the chemicals in fenugreek that are responsible for its possible health benefits. 

Fenugreek is nothing new to the modern world. The plant has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries. It was commonly used as a treatment for specific skin conditions. Chinese medicine also uses fenugreek to treat other diseases and conditions. 

Fenugreek is sometimes also used as a thickening agent. It is sometimes also added to shampoo products. Several Indian dishes use fenugreek seeds. It adds a “nutty” taste to the food. Some people also describe the taste of fenugreek seeds as slightly sweet. 

The flavor and taste profile are not the only reasons why fenugreek seeds form part of many dishes. These seeds also have an impressive nutritional profile. They deliver essential nutrients to the body. Among these are some plant compounds that act as potent antioxidants. 

Fenugreek And Diabetes

Some publications suggest fenugreek might be helpful for people with diabetes. There are chemicals in the fenugreek plant that might have anti-diabetes benefits. There are a few suggestions as to why fenugreek may be beneficial.

At the same time, studies are currently limited. There are only a few clinical trials that have backed up these claims. Still, there does seem to be some potential when using fenugreek for diabetes.

One of the first studies to provide evidence was conducted in 2009. The study was conducted by researchers at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran2. A total of 24 people participated in the study. All the participants had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the time of the study. 

A powdered form of fenugreek seeds was provided as a supplement to the participants. The powder was soaked in hot water or added to some yogurt. Several vitals of the participants were recorded. This included blood sugar levels. The researchers also recorded total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. HbA(1)C was also recorded for all participants. 

Following the study, it was found that fenugreek seed might be an effective remedy against diabetes. There was a significant decrease in blood sugar levels among the participants of the study. The results of an HbA(1)C test also improved after the participants used the fenugreek seed powder. The study lasted for eight weeks. 

No significant side-effects were identified among the participants. It was found that soaking the powder in hot water seemed to be more beneficial. The results were compared to the group that added the powder to yogurt. Thus, fenugreek water was preferred. 

Another study3 showed that baked goods that contain fenugreek seed might also be helpful. In this study, fenugreek bread was used. Its effects on diabetes mellitus were tested.

The researchers concluded that fenugreek might be a preventative strategy for diabetes. This can be exceptionally helpful in patients with insulin resistance. It could aid in reducing the risk of developing diabetes. Blood sugar control also seemed to improve. The bread contained a 5% concentration of fenugreek extracts. 

A more recent study4 also shed some light on the subject. The study looked at various supplements suggested for patients with diabetes. Fenugreek was one of the ingredients noted in the study. Other ingredients included vitamin D, ginseng, cinnamon, chromium, and nicotinamide. 

The researchers found that fenugreek does produce positive results. There was a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels among participants of the study. This means fenugreek might help to prevent fasting hyperglycemia. The study did not deliver comments on whether fenugreek might be effective for preventing post-meal hyperglycemia. 

Potential Risk Of Fenugreek

There are a few risks associated with the use of fenugreek. Diabetic patients should be aware of these risks. They should also weigh the pros and cons against each other. This will help the person determine if fenugreek is worth trying. If the potential risks outweigh the benefits, then an alternative solution should be considered. 

First of all, pregnant women should avoid using fenugreek. Uterine contractions have been reported among pregnant women who used this plant.

At the moment, research regarding the safety of fenugreek in breastfeeding women is limited. This means breastfeeding women should also consider avoiding using fenugreek. It is better to be safe when pregnant or breastfeeding. There are chemicals in fenugreek that could potentially be harmful to the baby. 

There is a risk of allergic reactions too. This is a relatively rare case. Still, it can happen. Patients should ensure they are not allergic to fenugreek before they use this product. If the patient has other food allergies, they should talk to their doctor. The doctor might be able to determine the risk of an allergy to fenugreek. 

Another risk to consider comes from certain fibers that are contained in fenugreek. These fibers can affect the way the body absorbs pharmaceutical drugs. The fibers might make medications less effective. This is why fenugreek should not be used too soon after taking a pharmaceutical drug. 

Furthermore, women with hormone-sensitive cancer should not use fenugreek. There is some evidence that chemicals in fenugreek might mimic the actions of estrogen. This, in turn, may aggravate these types of cancers. 

How To Add It To Your Diet?

There are different ways to consume fenugreek. Many people choose to add fenugreek as a plant to their diet. This is relatively easy and straightforward. Fenugreek seeds are generally available at most convenient stores. A person should take a look at the spice aisle. 

There are a few cases where it may be hard to find fenugreek on the shelves. 

It is important to note that fenugreek has a rather bitter and nutty taste. The taste profile of the herb does not go well with all types of dishes. Indian dishes often use fenugreek as an ingredient.

This includes sauces and curries. Some types of pickles also use fenugreek. A person might want to consider preparing these meals. This ensures the fenugreek complements the flavor of the meal.

There are powdered forms of fenugreek seed on the market. These can be added to tea. Some people also sprinkle some of the fenugreek powder into yogurt. It is also possible to soak the powder in water. The water can then be consumed. When soaking the powder, hot water should preferably be used. 

It is not only possible to include fenugreek in a diet through actual food. Several supplements on the market also contain fenugreek. A few supplements will only offer extracts from the fenugreek extract. Other supplements may contain additional ingredients.

When buying a multi-ingredient supplement, a person should take a look at the ingredients used. Some of these may come with additional risks and interactions. 

Glucose homeostasis may be reached more effectively with a supplement. The supplement contains a concentrated extract. This produces a more potent effect. The patient may experience faster weight loss. Serum cholesterol levels may be reduced. It may also help to lower fasting blood glucose levels. 

Other Benefits Of Fenugreek

Fenugreek is beneficial for more than just diabetes. The chemicals found in the plant have been linked to other health benefits too. People who consume more fenugreek may also experience these benefits. 

Fenugreek seeds contain a lot of essential nutrients. About 35 calories are contained in a tablespoon of these seeds. On a nutritional profile, the same volume of fenugreek seeds offer:

  • Three grams of protein

  • Three grams of fiber

  • One gram of fat

  • 5% of the daily recommended Magnesium intake.

  • 7% of the daily recommended Manganese intake.

  • 20% of the daily recommended iron intake. 

A tablespoon of fenugreek seed also contains about six grams of carbohydrates. 

Let’s take a look at some of the other potential benefits that fenugreek has been associated with:

  • In one study5, researchers found that fenugreek seed extract could increase testosterone in men. A total of 30 men participated in the study. The study lasted for eight weeks. A 500mg daily supplement of fenugreek was provided to the participants. Testosterone increased among these participants. Body fat was also slightly reduced. 

  • Some studies have found that fenugreek might also act as an appetite suppressant. This can be helpful for people who find it hard to control their appetite. Overeating can cause weight gain. An increase in weight leads to a higher risk of diabetes. Diabetic patients who are obese also have a higher risk of complications. By reducing appetite, fenugreek might be able to help the person lose weight more effectively. 

  • Certain chemicals in fenugreek may also produce anti-inflammatory effects in the body. This means people with inflammatory conditions may experience an improvement in symptoms. The research behind this potential benefit is limited. There are, however, some studies have backed up the claims. 

Apart from these benefits, it should be noted that fenugreek has been used to treat certain skin problems for many years.

Various types of skin conditions may improve when fenugreek is used in a topical solution. Ingesting fenugreek might also help certain skin conditions from the inside. Some publications also suggest that fenugreek may help treat ulcerative colitis. Fenugreek may also lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Treatments For Diabetes

Treating diabetes can sometimes be difficult. Some patients experience diabetes that is hard to control. In such a case, the blood sugar level may constantly remain high. This leads to an increased risk of serious complications

A diabetes treatment plan should be multifaceted. There should be different therapies and recommendations in a single treatment plan. This ensures all areas of concern are addressed. 

The first treatment that a doctor provides usually involves medication. The doctor may also advise the patient to make adjustments to their diet. Additionally, there are a few supplements that patients can try to use as well. We take a look at each of these treatment options below. 

Medication

There are two main types of drugs used to treat diabetes. The first is an oral tablet that helps to reduce blood sugar levels. The second option is insulin. When insulin is used, it needs to be administered through an injection.

The patient is usually shown how to do this. They will be expected to administer the injection themselves daily. The insulin helps the body process blood glucose. This is a good treatment option when the pancreas does not make enough insulin on its own. 

Some of the drugs, apart from insulin, that may be prescribed to a patient include6:

  • Metformin is the initial prescription drug for patients with type 2 diabetes. It helps to reduce the production of glucose. The drug acts on the liver. It also improves insulin sensitivity in the body. In turn, insulin secretion in the body may improve. 

  • Sulfonylureas may be provided to increase the secretion of insulin. Some patients experience weight gain with this drug. There is also a risk of hypoglycemia

  • Meglitinides are similar to sulfonylureas. The drug stimulates the pancreas. This increases the release of insulin. Meglitinides work faster than sulfonylureas. The duration of their efficacy is shorter, however. 

  • DPP-4 inhibitors are used to lower blood glucose levels. These drugs have a modest effect. They have been linked to a higher risk of a condition called pancreatitis. Some patients who take DPP-4 inhibitors experience joint pain. 

Other drugs that can be prescribed include thiazolidinediones, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors. 

Diet

Many patients can benefit from lifestyle changes. This often starts with some adjustments to the person’s diet. A poor diet leads to weight gain. It also pushes more glucose into the bloodstream than what the person needs. 

Making adjustments to a diet means adopting a healthy and balanced meal plan. Candy, sugary sodas, and high-carb foods need to be eliminated. These should be replaced with food that is nutritious and lower in carbs, preferably. The diet should also include soluble fiber. Anti-inflammatory foods can be helpful. 

Supplements

Fenugreek is only one of the supplements that people may use to improve blood sugar control. A few other supplements that may also provide effective results include:

  • Resveratrol supplements

  • Magnesium

Conclusion

Studies have suggested that fenugreek could be an effective natural therapy for people with diabetes. The use of fenugreek seeds may reduce levels of blood sugar. In turn, this may help improve blood glucose control. Fenugreek seeds can be added to food.

People can also use supplements that contain fenugreek extracts. Apart from fenugreek, several other treatment options are available for diabetes. 

Sources

  1. Mayo Clinic. Diabetes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444
  2. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. (2009) Effect of fenugreek seeds on glucose and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839001
  3. Journal of Medicinal Food. (2009) Fenugreek bread: a treatment for diabetes mellitus. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857068
  4. Journal of Pharmacy Practice. (2017) Supplements for Diabetes Mellitus: A Review of the Literature. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27619931 
  5. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. (2010) Effects of a purported aromatase and 5a-reductase inhibitor on hormone profiles in college-age men. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116018
  6. Mayo Clinic. Type 2 diabetes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351199

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