Your sweet tooth may be wreaking havoc on your body and brain. Here, ways to use the herb gymnema to support healthy blood sugar levels.
Gymnema Cuts Cravings for Sweets
A recent study on the effects of the Ayurvedic herb gymnema on sugar cravings reviewed sugar intake in 16 countries and found that, on average, adults consume 13.5-24.6% of their total energy as sugar.9 The health impacts of consuming too much sugar, particularly added sugars in manufactured foods, are well documented. A high-sugar diet has been linked to cognitive decline12, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, fatty liver disease, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.11
Is your sweet tooth getting the best of you?
Ayurveda can help! Gymnema sylvestre is an herb from the milkweed family with chemical compounds that dull the ability of taste buds to recognize sweet and slow the intestinal tract’s absorption of simple sugars.1-3
The study that reviewed sugar intake, published in the journal Nutrients, also set out to see if gymnema would reduce cravings for sweets. Fifty-six volunteers were given their favorite chocolate treat. Half the group was also given gymnema and the other half was given a placebo. In the gymnena group, the number of chocolate bars eaten was reduced by a half a bar per person.9
The Sugar Destroyer
Gymnema is also known as shardunika or gurmar, which literally means “sugar destroyer.”
I used to teach herbal seminars and I would have the students taste the herbs we were learning about. When we got to gymnema, I would have them taste it and then immediately give them a sweet, like a chocolate kiss, telling them it was to offset the bitter taste of the herb. The 5-10 minutes following the gymnema, they couldn’t taste anything sweet. The chocolate kiss would taste like cardboard!
They were always more than happy to spit out the sweet in the trash bucket I would pass around.
It would be a great practical joke on your favorite relative with a sweet tooth!
TIP: Take gymnema before heading out to a party or before a meal where you know you will be tempted to indulge! [Open a LifeSpa Sugar Destroyer capsule and sprinkle it into a water bottle. Shake until the powdered gymnema mixes with the water then drink. Your taste buds will to be numbed to the taste, absorption, and craving for sweets.
Gymnema and Blood Sugar
Gymnema has two active constituents responsible for supporting healthy blood sugar levels: gurmarin and gymnemic acids. Both of these acids block the uptake of glucose from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream, and also block the ability for the taste buds to detect sweetness. The body’s natural ability to block the uptake of sugars and glucose in the intestinal tract suggests that the body prefers using fat, instead of sugar, for fuel.(6)But when your body is bombarded with sugar, or glucose, blood sugar levels fall out of balance. When glucose levels rise in your blood, your pancreas secretes insulin to escort the glucose into your cells, muscles, and brain for energy. Over time, if your cells become overwhelmed with glucose, they resist insulin’s attempt to deliver sugar. This is called insulin resistance. Insulin responds to this by dumping sugar into an alternative storage site as a fuel reserve–your fat cells.
The problem gets worse when the blood sugar levels remain elevated. Fat cells, which are now loaded down with excess glucose, can also resist the dumping of more glucose, resulting in rising sugar levels in the blood.
These overwhelmed and oversaturated fat cells start producing a hormone called resistin (for “resistance to insulin”), which stops insulin from escorting any more sugar into fat cells. While this will temporarily stop weight gain, it can cause more serious blood sugar concerns down the road.
How Gymnema Supports Healthy Blood Sugar
Gymnema has been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels, pancreatic function, and healthy weight balance by:
- Increasing the secretion of insulin by stimulating cell membrane permeability.5
- Promoting the healthy function of the islet cells in the pancreas that manufacture insulin.1
- Stimulating enzyme activity that supports the natural utilization of glucose.1
- Inhibiting glucose or sugar from being absorbed through the intestinal wall.1
- Supporting healthy weight loss while on a high-fat diet.4
- Helping stop cravings by supporting healthy leptin (satiety hormone) levels.4
- Inhibits the intestinal tracts main glucose support SGLT1 from up taking glucose or galactose (milk sugar).6
How Gymnema Supports Balanced Weight
Gymnema supports the natural and healthy production and release of insulin into your blood, helping to balance the amount of sugar circulating in your bloodstream while encouraging your body to burn fat as fuel.
How it works: If your body can’t recognize and absorb sugar from the intestines, it will begin to break down fat (lipids) as a better, more stable source of energy.
Studies have shown that gymnema can support healthy weight even while you’re on a high-fat diet. This suggests that gymnema not only supports healthy blood sugar levels, but it also motivates the body to be a more efficient fat burner.4,7,8
For example, in one study, animals were fed a high-fat diet to induce weight gain. While one group only ate the high-fat diet, the other group ate a high-fat diet combined with gymnema. The gymnema group saw positive changes in HDL cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin, the appetite hormone leptin, Apolipoprotein B, and liver antioxidants compared to the group without the gymnema. The study concluded that gymnema supported healthy weight, blood sugar, and fat metabolism.7