Control blood sugar

Q. I have read that high blood sugar can contribute to erectile dysfunction. My wife died more than two years ago, but I now have a lady friend. I want to be able to perform if called upon.

Can you tell me about natural ways to reduce my blood sugar levels? I do use a lot of sugar in my morning coffee, and I drink more soda pop than water.

A. Elevated blood sugar can affect blood vessels that are essential for erections, just as it affects blood vessels in other parts of the body (Journal of Sexual Medicine, December 2015). So you are wise to look for ways to control your blood sugar.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, we urge you to follow your doctor’s advice and take the medications that have been prescribed. If, however, you are trying to keep your blood sugar down though it isn’t yet at the level of diabetes, there are several things you can do.

You might want to experiment with stevia instead of sugar to sweeten your morning coffee. Adding some cinnamon to the coffee grounds also could be helpful.

Try to change the ratio of water to soft drinks. Sugar-sweetened beverages provide a lot of empty calories. To get blood sugar down, you’ll want to reduce the amount of sugar and refined carbs in your diet. Exercise also is crucial for good blood sugar control. Certain herbs may be helpful: bitter melon, fenugreek or nopal cactus could help you maintain normal blood sugar.

Q. Many years ago, one of my customers told me that her doctor suggested that she begin drinking kefir daily if she wanted to stop getting sick. Not having any idea what the heck kefir was, I nodded and said that was interesting. Then I promptly forgot about it.

A couple of years later, I had a tough time with a respiratory infection. I noticed kefir in the natural section of our grocery store. I remembered what she’d said and bought some. Long story short: It worked.

I haven’t been sick for more than two years now. I now make my own water-based kefir so I can drink it every day. Certainly, other things help, too: sensible hand-washing, along with more home-cooked meals with lots of veggies and leafy greens.

My husband thinks I am nuts brewing kefir, but he drinks it when he gets sick. He gets over his bug quickly, but he has to drink some every day.

The healthy bacteria living in the kefir apparently diversify your gut bacteria, helping you protect yourself from germs. From my experience, this works best as a preventative or when consumed as soon as you know you are getting sick. You don’t have to drink the entire carton all at once, just a few sips throughout your day.

A. Most of the research on kefir (ku-FEER) apparently has focused on its ability to help people ward off nasty intestinal bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli (Journal of Dairy Research, August 2017). Components of this fermented milk product activate human immune cells in tissue culture (International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, December 2015). The investigators suggest that this might mean kefir consumption could help in fighting viral infections.

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