Maca and Diabetes - Is Maca Bad for Diabetes?

Maca Root is an editable root vegetable, and is known as Peruvian Ginsing. It is a relative of the radish and turnip family, and is remarkable because it can grow in very harsh conditions. It grows at a high altitude, more exactly at 11.000 feet in the Peruvian mountains.

It is a very powerful nutrient-dense herb and adaptogen that supports our body with more than 20 amino acids, a variety of fatty acids, vitamins B1, B2, C, and E. It contains more calcium than milk, plus an array of vital minerals, and antioxidants. And it may improve glucose tolerance.

It is mostly known for its libido enhancing power, but studies also suggest that it can have a positive effect on diabetes.

A historically fun fact is that Maca was fed to stressed out and dying horses in extreme weather conditions. Here it was discovered that Maca helped the horses survive, adapt and reproduce.

Today some companies sell Maca just for horses.

Maca and Diabetes

Though definitive studies involving maca are scarce, research suggests the root benefits people with type 2 diabetes by:

  • Aiding insulin distribution, and making our cells more sensitive to insulin’s effects.
  • Reducing the inflammation associated with chronic diseases such a type 2 diabetes.
  • Contributing fiber that slows digestion, and glucose absorption.
  • Increasing our energy and endurance for daily activities, and exercise.

In a 2007 study, participants eating a sugar-rich diet also took a daily dose of maca. The researchers found that maca significantly improved the participants’ glucose tolerance, and reduced their blood glucose levels.

Further, taking maca lowered the participants’ levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides—a plus for their cardiovascular health.

Maca is good for hormonal balance

Some people therorize that Maca can help woman gain weight and become more curvasive.

The thing is, Maca can help with hormonal balance, and hormones play a big role in weight gain and weight loss. And also in Type 2 diabetes, because hormones plays a big role in blood sugar regulation and in fat distribution. For example if a persons Insulin level is high, people will gain weight because insulin is a fat storing hormone as well as a fat burning hormone.

This balancing of hormones can lead to an extreme hunger that will make people gain weight but it can also have the opposite effect of contributing to weight loss.

In regards to type 2 diabetes it helps the hormone insulin be distributed in the body, and therefore can help with improved insulin sensitivity.

A little history of Maca Root

Maca Root has been used for at least 3000 years.

In 1553, a chronicler by the name of Cieze de Leon described maca as a root without identification of the botanical or popular name. He noticed that in the Peruvian highlands the natives used it for their maintainance.

And in 1653, Father Cobo was the first to identify the root and gave it the name Maca, and he noted that it grew in the harshest and coldest areas of the province of Chinchaycocha. It grew where no other plants could grow, and he reffered to it as a use for fertility.

Also, it is being said that the Inca warriors was being fed Maca to increase energy and vitality. But once they conquered a city though it was prohibited, to stop people from succumbing to their sexual desires, because it was used as an aphrodisiac.

In the 18th Century a historian by the name of H. Ruiz reffered to the fertility enhancing properties of Maca and also its stimulant effects. He believed the stimulant effects were related with an energizer effect or an effect on mood and well being.

Maca Root today

Today Maca root has exploded in popularity, and it is considered food for the brain, and helps boost brain function. It also helps mood, energy and performance and was used by the natives of Peru to improve their childrens performance in school.

Maca is extremely nutrient dense and contain:

Calcium, copper, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Iron, iodine, manganese, niacin, potassium, zink, and 20 fatty acids and 18 amino acids: includes lucine, arginine, histathena and thyrosine. It also has choline and GABA.

1 teaspoon of Maca root powder, the equivalent of 5 grams per day, will give about 10 % of RDA for iron, and the same amount will give 20 % RDA for copper.

Maca has anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-fatique and also anti-viral properties, and provides great therapeutic benefits, and also boosts the immune system.

It helps produce natural antioxidants in the body, and fights antixoidative stress which can lead to damage of the cells.

More Maca Benefits

Beside its positive effects on insulin function, glucose levels, and blood lipids maca root can help us stay well, focused, and upbeat:

  • Like other highly nutritious, antioxidant rich foods, maca is an immune system booster that helps us ward off, or recover from illness and infection.
  • The energizing properties in maca help to alleviate the fatigue and depression often associated with diabetes. It’s not well understood how maca enhances energy, concentration, and mood, but it’s likely because of the hormone balancing influence.
  • Maca root is considered an adaptogen, a natural substance that supports the body as we face life’s stressful challenges, such as a demanding job, moving, or managing an illness.

Since it positively effects libido, reproductive health, and menopausal symptoms as well, maca is definitely one of the world's most well-rounded super foods.

Buying and Using Maca

Maca can be purchased at most health food stores and online; it comes in powder, capsule, liquid, and extract forms.

All colors of maca - yellow, red, and black being the most common - are considered beneficial, though certain colors are thought more helpful for specific medical conditions. Whatever the color, it’s important to look for 100 percent pure maca from a quality harvester; raw and organic varieties are best.

Maca easily blends into cereals, smoothies, teas, salad dressings, soups, or any recipe that will be complemented by maca’s nutty, and slightly sweet flavor. Maca powder users typically incorporate one to three teaspoons into their daily diet.

Cautions

While there is no guarantee maca will lower our blood sugar, it can. People with diabetes should carefully monitor when trying maca to avoid hypoglycemia, especially if on diabetes medications. People on hormone-altering drugs, those with high blood pressure, and pregnant, or nursing women should consult a doctor before using maca.

Though sold in supplement form, maca is a food—but one with a powerful nutritional punch that affects different people differently. Our age, overall health, and body weight are factors determining its influence. It's best to start with a small maca dose, particularly if we have a smaller build, and increase to an optimal measure gradually.

Sources: Dr Axe, The Maca Perfection, The Maca Team
Photo: Pixabay
Reference: Maca, a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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