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For the last few years, I’ve struggled to get my blood sugar levels to what is considered the “normal” range: 70-99 mg/dl fasting and 180 mg/dl or below 2 hours after eating.
I’m a Type II diabetic with metabolic syndrome. I also have a few other health issues which make keeping my numbers low all the time a problem.
One of my biggest hurdles is “dawn syndrome” aka “dawn phenomenon.” That’s where your liver decides in the early morning hours your body needs a pick-me-up to get you going. To do so, it dumps loads of sugar into your bloodstream.
For “healthy” people, this extra glucose usually is just a small bump, a little kickstart. For people like me, whose livers have a nasty sense of humor, it means I wake up with a fasting blood sugar level of 250-350 or even higher. And the longer I fast, the higher it goes. Totally frustrating.
My doctor originally put me on Metformin years back. That kept me from creeping up into the 500s (which can be dangerous and require medical assistance). When that wasn’t enough, we added slow-acting Basaglar insulin. That also helped some, but I was still having random, really high spikes. So, then Fiasp quick-acting insulin was added to the mix before meals. But no matter what, my 3-month A1C tests the last few times have been running as high as 9-10, showing my average overall control is still quite poor. (“Acceptable” for my age/condition is supposed to be 5.7-7, so I’m about 30-45% higher than I should be…)
I really don’t want to take too much more insulin, especially at night. I had 1 bad instance of hypoglycemia, where I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, head to toe, shaking, and a rapid heartbeat. My blood sugar read 65 and could have been much lower while I was unconscious. No thanks. Get it too low, and you might never wake up.
There had to be something else that would help.
I wandered around the Internet looking for ideas. I stumbled on some research that said Glucommanan, a plant-based soluble fiber, might be able to help. In various tests, it’s been shown to naturally lower blood sugar, help with regularity, bring down cholesterol levels and maybe even help you lose weight.
I decided to give it a try.
A few weeks ago, I got my bottle of Now brand glucomannan from Amazon. The recommended serving size is 3 capsules, 1-2 times a day. I started with 1 capsule. I wanted to make sure it agreed with me first. (I’ve had some really weird side effects from medications and supplements in the past. Now I go reaaally easy when starting anything new.)
You have to make sure you take it with at least 8 oz. of water. It’s a “bulk-forming” soluble fiber made from the konjac plant and it sucks up a ton of moisture to form a “gel” in your stomach. (You really don’t want it doing that in your throat!) I took my capsule in the morning and then forgot about it.
To my amazement, as the day went by, I noticed I wasn’t as ravenously hungry as I usually am. (One rotten side effect of regular high blood sugar can be massive cravings – bassackwards, I know. You have all this “extra energy” in your bloodstream, but your body can’t use it correctly, so it still wants more and more! A nasty spiraling cycle.)
When it came time for lunch, I didn’t really want to eat anything at all. I wasn’t hungry. Wow! That hadn’t happened in a long, long while.
I checked my blood sugar, which had been 250 on waking, and suddenly it was down to 139!! That’s the lowest it’s been in years without a really large dose of insulin to push it down. And I had only taken my usual amount.
I decided on a banana, some cheese, and some cherries for lunch. Usually that’s enough to jump me back up to 300-350 easily, given all the carbs. After about 90 minutes, I checked. My blood sugar level was only 190, so very close to “normal” for once after a meal. Amazing since I hadn’t done anything differently re: meds.
Same with dinner! My blood sugar had dropped to 150 before eating, and after a meal of potato salad, hot dogs, and corn on the cob, it only went up to 190 again. Had to be a fluke!
I decided to take 1 more pill before bedtime, so 2 for the day. When I woke up the next morning, having fasted for 8 hours, I was at 120. OMG! And my usual intense sugar cravings were nil. I actually felt “full” for the first time since I was a kid after only eating just a little at meals.
I had to make myself eat breakfast. Same with lunch and dinner. Since I wasn’t “starving” all day, I actually had to think about what to eat, and picked healthier foods in smaller quantities, just enough to keep my blood sugar from dropping too low. (What a change!)
This went on for a week or so, and then I went in for my blood test checkups. Imagine my surprise when I found out that my A1c had dropped to 8.4 from 10 (a 16% improvement!) and my fasting blood sugar that day was only 129. That’s the lowest in over 4 years of testing. Yippee!
As a bonus, my overall cholesterol had dropped from 284 to 257, 10% better. Not to mention, my triglycerides, which had been at an awful 331 on the last test were now 145, finally in the “normal” range. (Double Yippee!!)
The only downsides have been that my thyroid numbers went up a bit, meaning I’ll need to take a bit more thyroid meds to compensate. That’s a known possible side-effect of taking glucomannan. Also, adding more soluble fiber to my diet has temporarily increased the amount of “air” (wink, wink) in my system. And while my intestines adjust to the extra fluids the “gel” adds, I’m going to the bathroom quite a bit more frequently. I think I’ll also add a bit of non-soluble fiber to my diet to “firm things up” in the meantime. Couldn’t hurt, eh?
All of that is a fine trade-off to me if it means I can cut down on all the diabetes meds I take. So far, I’ve been able to take only about 1/2 the insulin I was taking and the numbers are still staying low, but not too low! (And that’s with just take 1-2 glucomannan pills a day.) And who knows, I might even lose a few pounds at this rate since I no longer think about food all day long…
So, if you’ve been having trouble with your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and/or regularity, check with your doctor to see if Glucommanan might help you, too!