The data regarding diabetes in America is truly staggering. According to the 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report published by the CDC, over 34 million Americans—just over one in ten—have diabetes and 88 million American adults—about one in three—are prediabetic. With so many people living with diabetes, we wanted to talk about how Chaga can support those with this condition. While a healthy lifestyle is still the foundation for diabetes management, Chaga’s health benefits are substantial and are worth considering. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of using Chaga for diabetes, let’s quickly go over some basics.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into glucose (a sugar) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals to your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin to keep up with the sugar in your blood, or can’t use the insulin it makes efficiently. When there isn’t enough insulin, or cells stop responding to insulin, too much sugar remains in your bloodstream, eventually resulting in serious health complications, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that prevents your body from making insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body doesn’t use insulin properly and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels.
What is Chaga?
Although it’s typically referred to as a mushroom, Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is actually a sclerotia—a hardened mass of fungal mycelium. As a parasitic fungus, Chaga primarily grows on birch trees in cold climates, like those in Canada, Siberia, Scandinavia, and some parts of the United States.
How can Chaga help with diabetes?
Many animal studies have linked Chaga to the ability to lower blood sugar levels. One 2017 study in obese, diabetic mice showed that Chaga extract reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance compared to diabetic mice who didn’t receive the supplement. Another study in diabetic mice showed that Chaga supplements led to a 31 percent decrease in blood sugar levels over three weeks.
These studies aren’t just flukes—several other studies have demonstrated similar results. While research still needs to be done in humans, animal studies look very promising in terms of the effect Chaga has on blood sugar levels.
In addition to mitigating blood sugar, Chaga has the potential to support people living with diabetes by lowering cholesterol. A study of rats from 2009 found that taking Chaga mushroom for eight weeks resulted in reduced levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. These three blood lipid measures are closely linked to heart disease, an ailment that can be exacerbated or induced by diabetes.
Find a trusted source for your Chaga
Purchasing Chaga mushroom from a trusted supplier is the best way to ensure its effectiveness and safety. Not all Chaga products are created equal so be sure you’re getting yours from a company whose Chaga is organically grown, sustainably harvested, carefully extracted, and tested for quality and contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides, microbial contamination, and gluten. If a Chaga supplement lists any ingredients like “mycelium on grain” or other funky fillers, it's best to avoid it. To reap the full potential of this fungal powerhouse, seek a Chaga extract that uses wild-harvested Chaga.
The bottom line
Diabetes is a major issue in modern society, often made worse by lifestyle pressures and habits, like sedentary jobs and inadequate nutrition. Maintaining healthy habits with regard to nutrition and physical activity is the most important part of preventing or managing diabetes. Consider adding Chaga as an easy way to add potent nutrients to your daily routine. As with any supplement, get permission from your doctor before consuming Chaga.
All referenced sources are linked in the blog.