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Is Garlic Good for Diabetes? Let’s Find Out

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Diabetes mellitus is a severe condition wherein the body is either unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels or is unable to utilise the insulin it produces properly.

As a result, it can cause blood sugar levels to be rise to abnormally high levels, leading to severe health consequences.

As per current statistics almost 25 million Indians are affected by diabetes. Thus, its high time we rethink our diets which are often full of refined carbohydrates and simple sugars.

Having a healthy diet is essential for diabetes management. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of fluids, and exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of diabetes.

To help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, HealthifyMePro offers a comprehensive management plan to help you achieve your weight loss and diabetes management goals.

Garlic, a common ingredient in Indian cuisines, has numerous benefits in controlling blood sugar levels. Studies have also shown that garlic can be an effective antidote for diabetes and other health ailments. Therefore, garlic may be the answer if you are searching for a natural ingredient to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.

Garlic – A Nutritional Overview

Garlic is renowned for its strong and peculiar flavour, which can enhance the flavour of any dish. Furthermore, it has many health benefits, such as detoxifying the body and boosting the immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems.

It is estimated to contain over 400 phytochemical components, and its antiseptic and antibacterial properties make it a potent medicinal ally.

The USDA states that 100 grams of raw garlic contain the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 149
  • Carbohydrates: 33.1 g
  • Dietary fibre: 2.1 g
  • Fats: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 6.4 g
  • Vitamin C: 31.2 mg
  • Selenium: 14.2 mcg
  • Phosphorous: 153 mg
  • Potassium: 401 mg
  • Iron: 1.7 mg

Garlic for Diabetes – The Connection

Garlic is considered to increase the secretion of insulin hormone and regulate blood sugar level. Research has suggested that garlic contains an active component, allicin, that increases insulin secretion from pancreatic cells.

As insulin increases, more glucose will enter the cells from the blood, thus reducing the chances of HbA1c production. Garlic can also reduce oxidative stress to support insulin secretion from the pancreas.

With its ability to increase insulin content in the body, it can improve glucose tolerance. Studies also reveal that it can reduce inflammation in the body due to the amino acid homocysteine, one of the primary causative factors of diabetes.

In addition, garlic has anti-inflammatory properties that minimise the risk of diabetic-induced complications, including heart attack, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Glycemic Index of Garlic

Research shows that one of the best approaches to deciding the food for diabetes is to keep track of a food’s Glycemic Index. 

Garlic is a rare food item with a glycemic index between 10-20. It is primarily because garlic does not have any complex carbohydrates. It means consuming garlic is a safe option for diabetic people since it won’t spike blood sugar levels. 

Research revealed that cooking garlic might reduce its therapeutic potential. Hence, consume fresh or raw garlic in your diet to reap its benefits and excellent outcomes.

The HealthifyMe Note

People with diabetes can and should incorporate garlic into their diet to improve their blood sugar levels and overall health. Garlic contains zinc, antioxidants and minerals, which can help prevent type 2 diabetes. For maximum benefits, garlic bulbs should be minced or crushed 10 minutes before consuming them.

Benefits of Garlic for Diabetes

The impressive medical benefits of garlic have been long known. However, the best way to find out if adding garlic to your diet affects your blood sugar levels is to track them. HealthifyPro’s CGM device can help you accurately track your blood sugar levels throughout the day. 

Here’s how consuming garlic daily can benefit people with diabetes.

Regulates Blood Sugar

Research shows that individuals with type 2 diabetes can benefit from consuming garlic extracts.

These extracts help lower blood sugar levels, thereby preventing the potential complications of hyperglycemia, such as kidney failure and nerve damage. Furthermore, garlic extracts can reduce fructosamine levels, a biomarker indicative of long-term high blood sugar.

Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants can protect your body from toxins, free radicals and stress that can lead to chronic diseases. Research shows that antioxidants can effectively reduce diabetes complications.

Eating garlic, which is full of antioxidants, can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Hence, it is beneficial for people with diabetes.

Boosts Immunity

The consumption of garlic has a strong effect on strengthening the body’s defence mechanism. In addition, its antibacterial qualities help prevent the entrance of dangerous viruses and bacteria.

Garlic is also high in vitamin C which supports the immune system and its necessary functions. Therefore, adding garlic to your diet improves your health and protects you from infections.

Reduces Blood Pressure

Several studies have shown the potential threat of cardiovascular issues among people with diabetes.

Research shows that garlic helps reduce blood pressure, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack. Consuming garlic will induce the synthesis of nitric oxide that dilates blood vessels and supports healthy blood pressure.

Reduces Cholesterol

The bioactive compound in garlic helps lower the cholesterol level in the blood.

Allicin tends to widen the blood vessels allowing the blood to flow more freely, thus decreasing the risk of cardiovascular ailments. Moreover, garlic may also lower the production of cholesterol by the liver and reduce the total and LDL cholesterol.

Improves Brain Health

A study has found that garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improve brain health and functions. 

Inflammation in the brain can impair memory and cause long-term damage, so it is vital to take measures to reduce this risk.

Ways to Consume Garlic for Diabetes Management

Although garlic can be a beneficial addition to a diabetic diet, the study encourages diabetic people to consume it in moderation.

  • Add in Salad: Add a couple of chopped garlic cloves to your salads or add minced garlic as dressing for lettuce salad. 
  • Raw garlic: Consume raw garlic cloves with warm water on an empty stomach, which could benefit your cholesterol, weight loss, and diabetes management plan. However, eating raw cloves first thing in the morning might cause acidity. Hence combine it with honey to deal with stomach complications. 
  • Garlic tea: Boil a cup of water in a pan and add a teaspoon of crushed garlic, ginger and black pepper. Let it steep for 5 minutes and strain it. You can add cinnamon, lemon and honey to enhance the taste and nutritional value.

Overconsumption of Garlic: Potential Side Effects 

Experts recommend taking one or two garlic cloves per day to get maximum benefits without any risks. However, below are a few risks and warnings to be considered while consuming garlic.

  • Overconsumption of garlic might result in bad breath, bloating and other digestive issues.
  • Individuals sensitive to acid reflux or acidity should limit their garlic intake. It might trigger specific symptoms and cause discomfort.
  • People with irritable bowel syndrome have little to no tolerance for garlic consumption, even in cooked form. 
  • Consuming garlic in extreme amounts might cause gas, nausea or vomiting.
  • If you take any blood-thinning medications, consult your doctor, as garlic might induce the effects.

Conclusion

Garlic is an incredible food for managing diabetes and healthy blood sugar levels. It helps you keep your sugar levels in check. Furthermore, it helps fight diabetes-related complications like high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, and other cardiovascular diseases. 

When managing diabetes, paying attention to portion size and cooking methods is essential to avoid taking in too much oil or sugar. Moreover, every person is different, so it is advisable to speak with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to determine the best approach for your individual needs.

To have a long and healthy life, it is beneficial to include garlic in your diet, stay active, take your medications as prescribed, and monitor your blood sugar regularly.

The Research Sources

1. World Health Organization: Diabetes in India

https://www.who.int/india/health-topics/mobile-technology-for-preventing-ncds

2. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(13), pp. 2922-2928, 4 July 2011 | Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/JMPR | ISSN 1996-0875 ©2011 Academic Journals

https://academicjournals.org/journal/JMPR/article-full-text-pdf/C214F3118656

3. The U S Department of Agriculture

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169230/nutrients

4. Arellano-Buendía AS, Castañeda-Lara LG, Loredo-Mendoza ML, García-Arroyo FE, Rojas-Morales P, Argüello-García R, Juárez-Rojas JG, Tapia E, Pedraza-Chaverri J, Sánchez-Lozada LG, Osorio-Alonso H. Effects of Allicin on Pathophysiological Mechanisms during the Progression of Nephropathy Associated to Diabetes. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Nov 15;9(11):1134. doi: 10.3390/antiox9111134. PMID: 33203103; PMCID: PMC7697950.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7697950/

5. Oudi ME, Aouni Z, Mazigh C, Khochkar R, Gazoueni E, Haouela H, Machghoul S. Homocysteine and markers of inflammation in acute coronary syndrome. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2010 Summer;15(2):e25-8. PMID: 20631860; PMCID: PMC2898531.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20631860/

5. Vega-López S, Venn BJ, Slavin JL. Relevance of the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for Body Weight, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 22;10(10):1361. doi: 10.3390/nu10101361. PMID: 30249012; PMCID: PMC6213615.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213615/

6. Agric. Food Chem. 2007, 55, 4, 1280–1288 | Publication Date: January 27, 2007 | https://doi.org/10.1021/jf062587s

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf062587s

7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-kidney-disease

8. Bajaj S, Khan A. Antioxidants and diabetes. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec;16 (Suppl 2): S267-71. Doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.104057. PMID: 23565396; PMCID: PMC3603044.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603044/

9. Ried K. Garlic lowers blood pressure in hypertensive subjects, improves arterial stiffness and gut microbiota: A review and meta-analysis. Exp Ther Med. 2020 Feb;19(2):1472-1478. doi: 10.3892/etm.2019.8374. Epub 2019 Dec 27. PMID: 32010325; PMCID: PMC6966103.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6966103/

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