Can Turmeric Help Manage or Prevent Diabetes?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The basics

Diabetes is a common condition related to disruptions in your blood sugar level. Your blood sugar level plays an important role in how your body metabolizes food and how it uses energy. Diabetes occurs when your body can’t properly produce or use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. It affects nearly 13 percent of people ages 20 and older.

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Turmeric is a spice made from the ground roots of the turmeric plant. Over the years, turmeric has been recognized for its medicinal properties. It’s believed to have a wide range of health benefits, including pain relief and possible disease prevention.

For example, curcumin, the active component in turmeric, may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

What are the benefits of turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice often found in Asian food and curries. It helps give the food its yellowish color. For centuries, it has been used in Eastern medicine for general health. It’s often used for improving liver and digestion functions, as well as for easing pain from conditions such as arthritis.

The spice has a large following among alternative medicine users and is gaining popularity in mainstream medicine. Recently, it has received a lot of attention for its potential use in preventing cancer and other diseases. Turmeric is believed to have antioxidant properties that could help fight infection and inflammation.

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Research has also suggested that taking turmeric could treat and prevent diabetes.

Risks and warnings

Turmeric is generally regarded as safe for consumption. When curcumin, the active component of turmeric, is taken in large doses — more than is typically consumed in a meal flavored with turmeric — it may cause unpleasant side effects. A high dosage is typically considered above 4 grams of curcumin daily.

Side effects may include:

  • nausea
  • indigestion
  • diarrhea

Repeatedly consuming large amounts of turmeric may cause liver problems.

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If you have gallbladder disease, you should avoid turmeric. It may worsen your condition.

Consult with your doctor before using turmeric. They can assess your medical profile and discuss the potential benefits and risks.

Other ways to manage diabetes

Generally, diabetes management means sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Your doctor will work with you to help you develop the best management plan for you.

Most diet plans emphasize eating more whole foods. These foods include vegetables, fruits, and grains. If you have diabetes, it’s important to seek out foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar. This can help you to better maintain your blood sugar levels.

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Doctors usually recommend regular exercise and activity, as this will also help to lower and stabilize your blood sugar levels.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to manage your condition through diet and exercise alone. People with type 1 diabetes, and some people with type 2, must also take insulin medication.

The bottom line

Although turmeric can be taken as a supplement to complement your regular regimen, it isn’t a substitute for your current healthcare plan. You should consult with your doctor to determine how to best move forward.

If you do use turmeric, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

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