Life Extension Magazine®

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Safely Manage Blood Sugar Levels

Scientists have identified plant-derived ingredients and minerals that can reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Erin Davis, MS, RDN, CDCES.

Over 11% of Americans have type II diabetes and 38% have prediabetes.1

Prediabetes is a serious health condition, in which blood sugar is higher than normal but lower than the diabetic threshold.2

Some people argue that the term "prediabetes" be abolished.

That's because elevated glucose levels can increase the risk of vascular disease, eye conditions, nerve damage, dementia, and kidney disease before full-blown type II diabetes manifests.3

But diabetes can be prevented by reducing blood glucose levels before they get too high.4

Unfortunately, glucose-lowering drugs are usually prescribed only after diabetes has been diagnosed.

It doesn't have to be this way. Scientists have discovered several plant-derived ingredients and minerals that can safely reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Promote Healthy Glucose Levels

Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating glucose. With age,5 poor diet, or a sedentary lifestyle, insulin resistance—the inability to properly use insulin—can develop.6

Insulin resistance can lead to elevated blood glucose levels and type II diabetes.6

In people with prediabetes, lowering blood sugar can reduce the risk of developing diabetes.7 In those who are already diabetic, managing glucose levels can reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications.8

Improving diet and increasing physical activity can help control glucose levels.6,9 Scientists have also identified several plant-derived ingredients that promote healthy blood glucose levels.

They include:

  • Cinnamon,
  • Chromium,
  • Amla,
  • Shilajit, and
  • Iodine-rich seaweed.

Cinnamon Reduces Glucose

Researchers have found that a water-soluble form of cinnamon can help lower blood sugar.

Cinnamon polyphenols help activate our cells' glucose detection systems, which helps them maintain already-healthy blood glucose levels.10,11

Findings of a meta-analysis and systematic review of 16 clinical trials suggest the efficacy of cinnamon supplementation in supporting blood sugar levels, and healthy lipid profile.12

In a clinical study of people with elevated blood glucose, participants were randomized to receive 500 mg of water-soluble extract of cinnamon or a placebo. After 2 months results showed:11

  • Lowered fasting insulin and glucose (lower insulin indicates improved glucose control)
  • Reduced total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol
  • Improved insulin sensitivity.

Another clinical study enrolled participants with type II diabetes. Participants were randomized into four groups, two intervention groups (with BMI greater than 27 and less than 27) and 2 placebo (with BMI greater than 27 and less than 27).

Both intervention groups received 500 mg of cinnamon bark powder for 3 months. After 3 months, results showed that cinnamon improved body fat percentage, body mass index, and lipid profiles in people with type II diabetes. Results were more promising in patients with higher BMI at baseline.13

A preclinical study showed that water-soluble cinnamon extract increased the production of glucose transport molecules known as GLUT4. These allow cells to take up glucose from the blood when insulin is present.14,15

Without enough effective GLUT4 transporters, blood glucose can increase, causing insulin resistance and potentially damage to the tissues.16,17

Additional preclinical research revealed that cinnamon may activate and increase the production of metabolic sensors called PPARs,18 which mimic the action of some antidiabetic drugs18,19 Increased expression of PPARs promotes insulin sensitivity, improving glucose uptake and lowering blood sugar.20

Chromium Fights High Glucose

Chromium is a trace mineral.21,22 Cell and animal study model studies suggest that chromium might improve insulin sensitivity.23

In one observational study, lower levels of chromium were associated with diabetes and prediabetes.24

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials of chromium supplementation in people with diabetes found that oral chromium significantly:25

  • Improved blood sugar levels,
  • Lowered HbA1c (average blood glucose),
  • Raised HDL ("good") cholesterol, and
  • Lowered triglycerides.

It has been proposed that chromium may work by activating GLUT4 and enhancing insulin transport of glucose into the cells, improving response to elevated blood glucose levels.26

An observational study concluded that the odds of having type II diabetes were lower in those that had consumed supplements with chromium.27

In a human trial of diabetics whose blood sugar parameters were insufficiently maintained on prescription medication, participants were randomized to receive, daily, 200 micrograms of chromium combined with the natural product shilajit and the ayurvedic herb amla, or a placebo, in addition to medication. After 60 days, the treatment group had significantly greater improvements in fasting and post-prandial glucose levels, compared to placebo.28

What You Need to Know

Promote Healthy Glucose Levels

  • As people age, many develop insulin resistance and elevated glucose, often leading to prediabetes and type II diabetes.
  • A water-soluble cinnamon extract has been shown to reduce blood glucose and increase insulin sensitivity.
  • The mineral chromium has been shown to improve fasting blood sugar and HbA1c (average blood glucose) levels.
  • Amla and shilajit each have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and glucose-lowering effects.
  • Iodine-rich brown seaweed can stop the conversion of starches into glucose, lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity.
  • These ingredients can help maintain healthy glucose levels and prevent the damage elevated glucose can do.

Shilajit’s Properties

A Himalayan nutrient that has been used for centuries, shilajit is rich in fulvic acid. Fulvic acid is an organic compound that may contribute to shilajit's medicinal properties.29,30

Shilajit has traditionally been used to manage diabetes30 and gastrointestinal conditions (such as gastritis, and ulcers),30-32 and muscular strength.33

Preclinical data reveal that shilajit may also reduce insulin resistance.34

In a clinical trial, 90 diabetic patients were randomized to receive 500mg of shilajit twice daily or a placebo. After 3 months improvements in the blood sugar levels were observed.35

Amla’s Benefits for Diabetes

Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, is an herb that has been shown to lower blood glucose in animals and humans with diabetes.36,37

A source of bioactive compounds, amla has been shown to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.38

In people with type II diabetes, one study showed that, compared to a placebo, taking a combination of chromium, amla, and shilajit with current medication resulted in better fasting and post-meal glucose levels.28

Seaweed Aids Glucose Control

Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine,39 a trace element that is vital to metabolic control and thyroid hormone synthesis.40 Clinical studies have shown that consuming brown seaweed can reduce glucose levels.41

Seaweed is thought to work by blocking enzymes required for the conversion of starches into glucose in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in less glucose being absorbed into the bloodstream.42,43

Clinical trials have shown that brown seaweed extract can:44-46

  • Lower fasting glucose,
  • Increase insulin sensitivity,
  • Lower HbA1c levels, and
  • Improve post-meal cognitive function.

In one preclinical study, brown seaweed was found to improve diet-induced metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, and reduce insulin resistance.47

A systematic review and meta-analysis of human trials was conducted to assess the effects of brown seaweed on plasma glucose levels. The participants were either at high risk of diabetes, had diabetes, or had healthy blood glucose levels. It was concluded that brown seaweed and its extracts positively affect plasma glucose levels and have the potential for managing high blood sugar.41

Seaweed, amla, shilajit, chromium, and cinnamon can help support healthy glucose levels, protecting against the damage of high blood sugar.


The elevated glucose levels seen in prediabetes and diabetes increase the risk for heart disease, dementia, nerve damage, and kidney disease.

Cinnamon, chromium, amla, shilajit, and seaweed can help reduce high glucose levels, potentially preventing complications related to high blood sugar.

Anyone can benefit from maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, even people without diabetes or prediabetes.

If you have any questions about the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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