5 Super Teas for Type 2 Diabetes Management
Hot or iced, teas are a refreshing way to start your day, relax on the porch, kick back with friends, or snuggle in front of a fire. Teas also can be a tasty way to help manage type 2 diabetes.
If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and you are not a big fan of tea, I hope you will try at least one of the following super teas. They range from the traditional to the more unusual and cover a wide range of tastes.
5 healthful teas for type 2 diabetes
The ingredients in the following teas have demonstrated some benefits for managing type 2 diabetes. Enjoy one to three cups per day or as your healthcare provider recommends. Both black and green tea contain a small amount of caffeine, so you may want to have your last cup of the day several hours before you retire.
Bilberry (huckleberry) tea. Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) are a super source of phytonutrients called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The authors of Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects report that bilberries have potential benefit in the prevention or treatment of hyperglycemia, diabetes, and other age-related conditions.
Bilberry leaves are high in chromium, a mineral that has demonstrated an ability to lower blood sugar levels. A traditional use of bilberry has been for vision problems, and so it may help with diabetic retinopathy.
Black tea. If you had a cup of black tea today, you have consumed the most popular tea in the world. In addition to being popular, black tea has qualities that can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Among the studies of black tea and its impact on type 2 diabetes is one from the University of Dundee in 2008 in which investigators reported that black tea contains factors called theaflavins and thearubigins. These substances are said to act like insulin.
Ginger tea. Although ginger is often thought of as a natural remedy for nausea and motion sickness, it also contains several compounds that can help the body take up glucose. This ability can be most helpful for people with type 2 diabetes.
One study showed that people with type 2 diabetes have an insufficient amount of a protein called GLUT4, which is necessary for cells to take in glucose. 6-gingerols and 8-gingerols, two active ingredients in ginger, increase the activity of GLUT4, which then allows uptake of glucose to occur.
Green tea. Dozens of studies of the effect of green tea on diabetes and its complications have been conducted. Green tea harbors a number of beneficial polyphenols, including one called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
A recent Emaxhealth review notes some of the benefits of green tea regarding diabetes and its complications. Among them are protection of the retina against damage that can lead to diabetic retinopathy, lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and help in the fight against obesity.
Sage. The herb sage (Salvia officinalis L. Lamiaceae) has been a traditional antidiabetes treatment because of its hypoglycemic characteristics. A team of researchers recently evaluated the use of sage in rats with diabetes to learn more about the herb’s impact on the disease compared with common antidiabetes drugs such as acarbose and metformin.
They discovered that sage significantly reduced blood glucose similar to acarbose. Sage also had a positive effect on insulin and on the inhibition of certain enzymes associated with hypoglycemia.
Have a cup of tea for diabetes
Some people experience a noticeable effect on blood sugar levels when using teas while others do not. It will likely take several weeks of drinking the teas before you notice any impact.
Before you begin using teas to help with type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor, especially if you are taking antidiabetes medications. You also should never stop taking your medication or changing your dosage without first talking to your healthcare provider.
Whether tea benefits insulin or blood glucose levels or helps you relax, it can have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes.
Cameron AR et al. Black tea polyphenols mimic insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling to the longevity factor FOXO1a. Aging Cell 2008; 7(1): 69-77
Chu W et al. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.). In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2011, chap. 4.
Fehresti Sani M et al Effects of three medicinal plants extracts in experimental diabetes: antioxidant enzymes activities and plasma lipids profiles in comparison with metformin. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 2012 Summer; 11(3): 897-903