“Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels” (World Health Organization).
It is highly likely that you know someone with diabetes. As more and more people are being diagnosed with the disease in China and India, the number of people suffering from diabetes on a global level has quadrupled since 1980. In fact, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and there are 540 million diabetes patients worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, diabetes was the ninth leading cause of global death in 2019, with an estimated 1.5 million deaths directly caused by this long-lasting health condition that disrupts the body’s ability to turn food into energy.
While most people have a basic appreciation of the connection between diabetes and high blood sugar, managing the disease is complicated.
Once diagnosed, patients cannot always control their glucose levels by merely taking a pill or receiving an injection. In many cases, diabetics must change their lifestyles by incorporating more exercise and embracing dramatically different diets. Understanding diabetes and its impact on the body is essential to prevent and treat sickness. Elderberry is a great supplement for maintaining health and potentially preventing diabetes.
Type I vs. Type II Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, and it is important to know the difference. Type 1 diabetes (T1D), often referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is an incurable autoimmune disease and may be caused by genetic disorders, environmental factors, or viruses. T1D usually emerges in childhood or adolescence, but it can occur later in life. It develops when the pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels.
Damage occurs when the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. Complications from Type 1 diabetes could cause damage to a patient’s heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.
Maintaining a normal blood sugar level can dramatically reduce the risk of many complications, but the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation notes Type 1 is a 24/7 disease that requires constant management. According to the Mayo-Clinic, adults should monitor children and teens for diabetes symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bed-wetting in children who previously did not wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- Cuts that do not heal
- Tingling in hands and feet
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is considered adult-onset diabetes, but children are also being diagnosed with T2D due to the increase in childhood obesity.
Typically, T2D appears in midlife, and it may be induced by an inactive lifestyle and excess weight.
According to the Mayo Clinic, T2D is the result of two interrelated problems: Cells in muscle, fat and the liver become resistant to insulin and do not take in enough sugar, and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
There is no cure for T2D, but lifestyle changes such as managing stress, watching alcohol intake, having regular checkups, modifying diet, and exercising can help patients to manage and reverse the disease, and some people may still need to use diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
What makes T2D especially dangerous is many adults often do not recognize symptoms, which mirror the T1D symptoms but may have a gradual onset.
The CDC estimates that one in five people who have T2D may be undiagnosed. Untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease and strokes, blindness, gum disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, and amputations.
C0\/id and Diabetes
With the onset of the C0\/id pandemic, medical experts saw soaring numbers of diabetes cases. Evidence indicates that C0\/id may lead to diabetes as it attacks pancreatic cells, and it is estimated that 14% of the patients suffering from severe cases of C0\/id, many of whom had no known diabetes risk factors, developed the disease. A CDC report reveals that C0\/id worsens diabetes symptoms, and people with diabetes are at a higher risk for severe C0\/id.
Medical experts believe that the C0\/id infection might induce diabetes in people who have never had it. Doctors are trying to determine bi-directional relationship between these two life-threatening diseases.
Elderberry and Maintaining Healthy Insulin Levels
The CDC provides a range of preventative tips for avoiding type 2 diabetes, including drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and incorporating more physical activity. Incorporating elderberries (Sambucus nigra), which is considered one of the most healing plants in the world, can be a way to protect the body from diseases such as diabetes.
Doctors and medical experts have referenced elderberries for centuries, as evidenced in the book The Anatomy of the Elder (published in 1644) by Dr. Martin Blochwich. Elderberries have a tremendous range of healthful properties:
- Low glycemic index
- Low in carbs
- Low in calories
- Rich in vitamins
- Rich in fiber
Elderberry may increase glucose uptake (GU) metabolism and increase the secretion of insulin, according to research conducted in 2015.
In a 2017 medical study, elderberry extract balanced blood sugar in diabetic rats and reduced insulin resistance.
A 2020 study indicated that elderberry extract can impact glucose and manage blood sugar levels; however, as the evidence on glycemic control was derived from animal studies, more human studies are necessary.
Researchers have discovered that elderberries contain water-soluble plant pigments, known as anthocyanins, that provide antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial, and anti-obesity effects.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, and the heart-healthy elderberry can be of immense help as it can maintain cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Another often undiscussed complication of diabetes, osteoporosis, can increase the risk of bone fractures. With its anthocyanins and rich levels of calcium, iron, and potassium, elderberry can help to strengthen bones and improve bone density.
Elderberry extract can inhibit the enzyme α-glucosidase, which can help to control blood glucose spikes after eating.
Working in the emerging field of nutraceuticals, scientists are discovering the strong possibility that in addition to playing a role in preventing or managing diabetes, the chemical constituents in elderberries may have the ability to modulate body systems impacted by chronic diseases.
Since elderberry has blood sugar-lowering effects, using it as a dietary supplement in conjunction with sugar-lowering medications (such as insulin) may increase the risk of developing hypoglycemia.
Any person taking blood sugar lowering medication should consult a doctor before incorporating elderberry extract into a daily routine. Most commercially produced Elderberry syrup found on big box store shelves contains elevated levels of food sweeteners, such as added sugar or glucose syrup, that can impact blood sugar levels. When searching for elderberry syrup, consider products made with honey which have a lower glycemic effect than white sugar.
Knowledge is power when striving to improve health. Understanding the symptoms and causes of diabetes, and incorporating healthful foods, such elderberry, into daily routines, can make all the difference in living a fun, active and normal lifestyle.