Ancient Wisdom Part 5: 4 ways amla can control blood sugar in people with diabetes
Amla or Amalki is considered one of the most potent fruits in Ayurveda. Here's how the Vitamin C-rich fruit can help manage diabetes.
Note to readers: Ancient Wisdom is a series of guides that shines a light on age-old wisdom that has helped people for generations with time-honoured wellness solutions to everyday fitness problems, persistent health issues and stress management, among others. Through this series, we try to provide contemporary solutions to your health worries with traditional insights.
The cases of diabetes, a metabolic disorder, has increased exponentially in recent decades. So much so that India is now home to over 100 million diabetics, compared to 70 million in 2019, as per a Lancet study. Diabetes affects many parts and functions of the body and people struggling with the disease are at an increased risk of complications such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney problems, nerve damage, gum disease, and eye problems.
Diabetes, however, can be managed well with lifestyle interventions and diet plays an important role. Amla is one such diabetes superfood that can help control blood sugar spikes, improve metabolism and protect pancreatic cells from oxidative stress and damage. In this edition of Ancient Wisdom, we discuss benefits of this ancient remedy in controlling diabetes.
What is amla?
The small and round green berries of amla have five tastes - pungent, astringent, sweet, bitter, and sour. Amla is known to balance all three doshas - vata, pitta, and kapha as per Ayurveda, and it especially calms pitta dosha. Amla is cooling, and its vipaka or post-digestive effect is sweet.
Amla or Amalki is considered one of the most potent fruits in Ayurveda and finds mention in ancient texts like Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. It is considered as a Rasayana as per the ancient traditional practice due to its extraordinary levels of Vitamin C and high antioxidant activity.
Every part of amla tree is used for different medicinal purpose from controlling diabetes, ulcers, digestive issues, diarrhoea, jaundice, inflammation, skin and hair health benefits among many others. Amla is also considered as a tonic for building up lost vitality and vigour. Amla is a wonder fruit for diabetes especially as it prevents glucose spikes, improves metabolism and also protects heart from the adverse effects of the disease. Adding it to the daily diet is recommended for diabetics, however amla must be eaten in moderation.
Amla as ancient remedy
Amla's history goes back thousands of years. Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita mention Amla as a remedy for diabetes and other ailments. Scientifically amla is known as phyllanthus emblica and in ancient India it was used in herbal formulations for overall health and managing blood sugar levels. Amla was extensively used in Tibetan medicine as relieve abdominal pain, menstrual disorders and other gynaecological imbalances. The Tibetal medicinal system also trusted amla to cleanse the body of toxins or metabolic residue. Amla was also found in almost every house in the Terai region of Nepal and people used it for hair and skin benefits.
"Indian Gooseberry has a rich history in Ayurvedic medicine dating back thousands of years. Ancient texts like the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita mention Amla as a potent remedy for various ailments, including diabetes. In Ayurveda, it was often used in herbal formulations to manage blood sugar levels and promote overall health," says Dr Jayati Rakhit, Clinical Director and Co-Founder at Ohio Hospital.
Amla benefits for people with diabetes
Amla can not only keep many chronic diseases at bay, it also increases immunity against seasonal infections. Amla can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce sugar spikes. It supports healthy digestion and metabolism that prevents excess sugar from depositing. Including amla in regular diet can be highly beneficial for people with diabetes.
Know all the benefits
1. Regulates blood sugar
Amla is known for its hypoglycaemic properties. It helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes management. It can reduce the risk of sudden spikes and crashes in blood glucose levels.
2. Antioxidant power
Amla is rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C, which can help protect pancreatic cells from oxidative stress and damage, promoting insulin production and sensitivity.
3. Improved metabolism
It supports a healthy metabolism, aiding in the effective utilization of glucose and preventing excess sugar from accumulating in the bloodstream.
4. Heart health
Diabetes often coincides with cardiovascular issues. Amla can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, a common concern for diabetic individuals.
How to add amla to your diet
There are several delicious and easy ways to incorporate amla into the diet. Arpita Bose, Dietician at Ohio Hospital, shares some of these:
1. Fresh amla: Consume raw amla by cutting it into small pieces. You can sprinkle a pinch of salt or chili powder for taste.
2. Amla juice: Blend fresh amla with water to create a refreshing juice. You can add a touch of honey or a natural sweetener if desired.
3. Amla pickle: Amla can be pickled with various spices, enhancing both taste and health benefits.
4. Powdered amla: Dried Amla can be ground into a powder and added to smoothies, yogurt, or as a seasoning in your dishes.
5. Amla supplements: If fresh amla is not readily available, consider Amla supplements available in various forms like capsules, tablets, or powders.
6. Amla candy: Amla is also consumed as a sweet treat called amla candy which is popular among children and adults alike.
Who shouldn't have amla
While amla or Indian Gooseberry is generally safe and beneficial for many, there are some considerations:
1. Blood sugar monitoring: If you're on diabetes medication, monitor your blood sugar levels closely when introducing amla into your diet. It may enhance the effects of medications, potentially causing hypoglycaemia.
2. Allergies: Individuals with allergies to amla or related fruits should avoid it.
3. Gastrointestinal Sensitivity: Amla can be acidic and may not be suitable for individuals with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux issues. In such cases, consult a healthcare professional.
Interesting facts about amla
Rich in Vitamin C: Amla contains significantly more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, making it an excellent natural source of this vital nutrient.
Traditional hair care: Besides its internal health benefits, Amla is used in various hair care products in India, as it is believed to promote hair growth and prevent premature greying.
Did you enjoy reading the fifth part of our series on Ancient Wisdom? Part 6 which discusses benefits of onion for eye health will be out on September 22. Stay tuned.