I put down the spoon, and couldn’t help but pay attention to that little voice in the back of my mind. Guilt washed over me as I tossed the now-demolished pint of ice cream into the trash. I knew that later my blood sugar would peak, and then come crashing down. Not great for deep, restorative sleep.
On your path to performing at your peak, keeping blood sugar stable makes you feel your best and helps you live a long time. What if you could have both stable blood sugar and enjoy occasional treats.Metformin has plenty of drawbacks. That's why I prefer these safe and effective natural Metformin alternatives. Click To Tweet
Have Your Cake And Eat It Too
Longevity researcher David Sinclair praises metformin use for off-label blood sugar stability. There may be additional anti-aging benefits, but blood sugar stability is the big one.
Blood sugar stabilization isn’t completely clear-cut. Some experts personally use off-label metformin, while others steer clear.
Before you rush out to your local anti-aging doctor, you should know metformin’s side effects and the effective alternatives.
Lesser-Known Pitfalls of Metformin
Metformin has withstood the test of time (so far). It has been heavily studied and is widely used to treat diabetes.
Off-label use for anti-aging and life extension has only recently gained popularity. Like most concentrated compounds, Metformin comes with side effects.
B12 Vitamin Deficiency
One of the many necessary vitamins and minerals. I can see why you’d shrug your shoulders at an association with vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is essential to the development of your brain and nerves. Metformin increases your chances of B12 deficiency which can lead to serious permanent nerve damage, deteriorating brain function, and memory loss.
Wasted Exercise Sessions
Exercise is among the top strategies to live a long time.
Several studies suggest that metformin blunts the beneficial adaptations to aerobic exercise. It also makes exercise feel harder. Looking beyond aerobics, metformin may negatively affect building muscle mass.
I don’t know about you, but my workouts are hard enough as is. Blunting the beneficial effects of exercise alone would be a deal-breaker for me.
Extreme Muscle Soreness
Dr Peter Attia loves cycling. As a doctor, he has all the tools and processes in place to run successful biohacking self-quantification experiments.
You know that burning feeling from really pushing yourself through a workout?
That’s lactate accumulating.
Peter experimented with metformin but ultimately stopped because it increased his lactate levels during exercise. He wrote a piece about it back in 2017.
Dangerously Low Blood Sugar
As a drug used to lower blood sugar, you might find it surprising to see this also listed as a side-effect.
Known as hypoglycemia, certain things combined with Metformin can cause blood sugar to dip dangerously low. Healthline lists common combinations to avoid combining with Metformin:
- A poor diet
- Strenuous exercise
- Excessive alcohol intake
Another strike against combining exercise and Metformin.
“Best Guess” Dosing
Unlike its use in treating diabetes, we don’t know much about proper longevity doses.
I heard one doctor mention that we don’t even know how long its effects last in your body. For example, one of the processes it affects is called AMPK. 36 hours after dosing metformin, AMPL activity remains altered. I find this concerning since the plasma half-life of the drug is just 6.2 hours.
Great Natural Metformin Alternatives
No known side effect by itself completely negates Metformin’s potential. When you add everything together, enough unknowns pop up to warrant trying some more natural alternatives first to see if you can stabilize blood sugar through other means.
Finally, through modern science we can relax and enjoy the occasional indulgence.
First and most obviously, you can stabilize your blood sugar by making healthy low-glycemic food choices (make sure to avoid foods with hidden sugar).
Once you do that you have two types of alternatives
- Lifestyle changes
- Compounds and supplements
I like lifestyle changes because they are cheap (or free), available to everyone, and possible to do in most situations. However, when you’re low on time or don’t have the ability, choosing the right products can help.
The irony of using Metformin is that blunts one of the most effective tools available.
I overlooked the power of walking for most of my life.
Now I am a big fan.
It’s easy too. Enjoy a brisk twenty minute post-meal walk.
Cold exposure builds resilience, fast. Biohackers wearing continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) often report drastic blood glucose effects.
Exposure to cold via a fasted morning walk, cold shower, or ice bath has a significant effect on blood sugars.
Try a cold shower before moving on to dietary supplements (which also can have side effects).
Berberine is an extract that comes from multiple plants.
It works as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, and liver booster.
At a dose of 500mg it lowers blood sugar. I personally take it whenever I expect to spike my blood sugar.
Caution: While far safer than most pharmaceuticals, consult your doctor before starting berberine.
5. Bitter Melon Extract
Next up behind berberine, you’ll find bitter melon extract in high-quality fat loss supplements.
I’ve seen it in “carb blocker” formulations because it suppresses the inflammation and blood sugar spike characteristic of binges.
Bitter melon extract is mostly known (and studied) for its anti-obesity properties. That’s not all. A 2017 review found its effects extend far beyond liver protection:
“Antidiabetic, anticancer, hypotensive, anti-obesity, antimicrobial, antihyperlipidemic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immuno-modulatory, anthelmintic, neuro-protective…”
This is one ingredient you’ll want to bookmark for later. Note that you’ll often see it referred to as “momordica charantia” in research.
Coming up as number three on my favorite supplements, lotus seems quite effective.
I came across lots of literature showing a significant effect on blood glucose.
Researchers call lotus a strong anti-obesity agent. Lotus works via two mechanisms:
- Reducing fat accumulation
- Increasing fat burning
I have not experimented with it yet, but lotus (or any of its other countless aliases) looks like a powerful weapon in the longevity arsenal.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Don’t expect huge blood sugar changes from apple cider vinegar, but it may help.
If this one is in your cabinet give it a try.
Apple cider vinegar works differently than the other compounds, but I’ve heard a fair amount of anecdotal success with it. It won’t hurt, and it has plenty of other beneficial properties.
8. Ceylon Cinnamon
Following in apple cider vinegar’s footsteps, Ceylon cinnamon also has an effect on blood sugar.
Look for a type called Ceylon. The more common types of cinnamon, Cassia and Saigon, contain high levels of a toxic ingredient called Coumarin.
Most cinnamon is Cassia unless stated otherwise. Ceylon is less potent, so consuming the multi-gram dose is bearable.
I like to use it in my coffee after a night of bad sleep, or in my smoothies.
An active ingredient in green tea, EGCG works best in the long-term.
Not everyone wants to add something additional to their daily supplement stack.
But if you do, supplementing EGCG improves LDL-cholesterol and glucose.
Try a Natural Metformin Alternative Today
Always consult your doctor before adding or removing any supplements or drugs into your life.Metformin's not the only anti-aging strategy around. Between lifestyle practices, and powerful supplements you can get all the benefits of stable blood sugar without nasty side-effects. Click To Tweet
I’m partial to the lifestyle changes myself, because once you learn them, you cannot run out and they work quite well. They aren’t as effortless but can provide even greater effects.
Blood sugar regulation is but one of countless reasons to exercise. You don’t have to go all out. Even something as simple, accessible, and easy as walking works well.
One of the important pillars to extending your health span, you now have lots of options to go forward and eat your cake too.