Natural Approach to Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that has the potential of creating a great deal of havoc and complications throughout the entire body, but it boils down to excessive glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which our bodies need to perform basic processes such as digestion or respiration. Too much glucose, however, is not a good thing. A high level of sugar in the blood clogs blood capillaries and interferes with oxygenation of the cells. High glucose levels have also been shown to increase inflammation that leads to heart disease and exhausts immune cells. Excess sugar also feeds the growth of organisms that cause infections. While glucose and refined sugars differ, consuming too much refined sugar, or simple carbohydrates, may be at the root of obesity, tooth decay, gum disease, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas produces too little or no insulin, which is the hormone needed to allow glucose to enter cells to produce energy in a healthy body. While once thought of as a metabolic disorder, diabetes is an autoimmune disease that may be experienced in the form of either Type 1, Type 2, or Gestational Diabetes. Pre-diabetes is also a condition that has become noted and is an indicator that you are likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if precautions in dietary and lifestyle changes are not met. Diabetes can lead to foot complications, DKA Ketoacidosis and ketones, kidney disease nephropathy, high blood pressures, stroke, HHNS, or gastroparesis.
The most common symptom that is reported is excess urination, which is where the term, diabetes, probably got its name in the first place. The word diabetes means, “to pass through”, in clearer discreet terms, what is passing through is an excess of urine. Other symptoms include dry mouth or excessive thirst, fatigue or feeling tired all of the time, feeling hungry even though you have just eaten, blurred vision, and cuts or bruises that are slow to heal. Type 1 tends to also accompany unexplained weight loss, while Type 2 often expresses itself with tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands and feet.
Gestational Diabetes is present only during some pregnancies, typically developing around 24 weeks gestation and does not persist after delivery of the baby but may be a precursor to developing Type 2. Women at risk may have large birth weight babies and other more serious potential complications endangering the unborn baby and the pregnant mother’s health.
Type 1 is also sometimes called childhood or juvenile diabetes and may also be referred to as insulin-dependent or T1.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and has sometimes been referred to as adult-onset diabetes.
Pre-Diabetes is a warning sign that gives you the opportunity to make some changes in your lifestyle and diet in an effort to keep diabetes at bay. Some symptoms of pre-diabetes include being overweight and having a family history of the disease as well as being tested with blood sugar levels of 100 to 125 mb/dl after fasting, feeling exhausted all of the time, cuts that take a long time to heal, hard to explain mood changes, changes in vision, unexpected weight gain, the need to urinate more frequently than usual, digestive issues, and aches in the joints.
Recent statistics show that worldwide, approximately 422 million people have diabetes with nearly 30 million Americans having been diagnosed. It is estimated that one out of every three adults has pre-diabetes, and worse yet, 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know it. About 1.4 million new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States alone. Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States, up from the seventh leading cause in 2010, and is on the rise reporting cases in epidemic numbers. Approximately 90 percent of diabetes cases fall under what is known as Type 2 Diabetes.
Foods to Avoid
If you have pre-diabetes, you have an opportunity to stop the progression by starting with changing your diet. It’s important to know what foods perpetuate the disease.
-Avoid carbohydrates, including all refined sugars and white flour or processed grains such as white rice.
-Avoid gluten-laden foods which may cause intestinal inflammation and raise blood sugar.
-Avoid processed foods such as jams or jelly and fatty foods such as french fries.
-Avoid canned fruits and vegetables since they contain added sugars and sodium.
-Avoid natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, etc.
-Avoid starchy foods like potatoes.
-Avoid dairy products like cow’s milk and replace with goat milk.
Foods that Help
Consuming a healthy diet is absolutely essential in preventing, monitoring, and possibly reversing diabetes. Diabetes was an unknown disease back in the times when humans were hunter-gatherers. Diabetes began when human beings started growing grain for food, probably because the high starch content of grain raises blood sugar levels. Work with a Naturopath to help you design a food diary based on your test results and blood type.
Eat fresh, organic, low glycemic fruits and leafy green vegetables, organic meats and good fats such as avocado, ghee, coconut oil. Drink plenty of water, and tea. If you have to have coffee drink gluten free Teechino coffee that provides potassium, electrolyte minerals and soluble fiber and is none acidic.
Eat chromium-rich foods like broccoli, green beans. Chromium plays an important role in maintaining blood sugar.
Eat magnesium-rich foods like spinach, beef, and some nuts or seeds.
Since it is important to balance blood sugar, diabetics may benefit from a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet forces the body to use more stored fat for energy instead of sugar by replacing carbohydrates with moderate amounts of lean proteins and healthy fats. A ketogenic diet will ideally include three things:
Proteins, fiber and healthy fats.
Start with adding lots of protein to your diet such as wild salmon, grass-fed beef, organic chicken and turkey. Include foods rich in fiber such as green leafy veggies, nuts, and seeds such as chia, pumpkin, almonds, walnuts, or flaxseeds. This high fiber intake will support healthy blood sugar levels and help your body detox in the process. Another important element to a ketogenic diet is to use healthy fats. Start adding coconut oil to your diet. Coconut oil will not only provide you with healthy fat but will also benefit blood glucose levels. Also add coconut milk to your daily foods. Other fat options for a ketogenic diet include grass-fed butter or ghee. Ghee is made by melting butter and skimming off the milk solids.
Diabetes is a disease that affects so much more than just the physical body. It can be stressful for not only the one suffering from diabetes but also for those caring for a diabetic and is especially emotionally draining for parents of diabetic children. It encompasses a realm of emotions for the entire family and may impact friendships or work mates. A healthy blood sugar glucose level also plays a huge role in a person’s mental well being. Depression that isn’t connected to life events around you for no seemingly apparent reason could be triggered by glucose out of control. Other common emotional components of diabetes include not wanting to talk about the diagnoses, disturbances in sleep, feeling overwhelmed at how diabetes has taken control over every aspect of life, tiredness all of the time, and having difficulty concentrating. These additional emotional aspects may cause the person to withdraw from family and friends. Root cause of diabetes is fear and stress.
Herbs and Vitamins that Help
Some of the medications given to help with diabetes may actually lead to specific vitamin deficiencies. Do a hair analysis to find out if you are lacking any minerals or have toxic metal accumulation. Talk to your doctor or naturopath about supplementing your diet with the following:
Goldenseal, or rather berberine which is the active compound found in goldenseal, has a long history of medicinal properties in treating inflammation and has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels.. While goldenseal offers potential benefits, it should be avoided if pregnant since it may cause contractions of the uterus. It may also raise blood pressure, so use with caution if you are prone to high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems.
Chromium has been shown in studies to decrease insulin values and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon that is rich in chromium helps to lower and maintain blood sugar levels and may also improve insulin sensitivity. Start by taking one teaspoon before each meal of the day.
Magnesium may help lower your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid, ALA that is found in several Omega-3-rich foods works with your pancreas to lower blood sugar levels. ALA also has an added benefit of killing free radicals which may help with neuropathy.
Omega -3 fatty acids and fish oils help cell membranes to become more sensitive to insulin. Healthy fats also slow the absorption of sugar and stabilize blood sugar levels and also lower triglycerides.
Vanadium is derived from plants and may increase sensitivity to insulin.
Zinc helps the immune system function properly. It is stored in the muscles, retina, bones, skin, and blood cells. Zinc is helpful for diabetics since it is necessary for the formation of insulin in the beta cells of the pancreas. Just don’t take too much zinc, since it can upset the balance of copper and iron resulting in an inverse effect on immunity.
Stomach aches, increased heartburn, feeling bloated, and bouts of diarrhea or constipation may be signs of pre-diabetes. According to the Journal of Diabetes, an underlying cause may be what is known as increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. Leaky guy syndrome is on the rise and may be at the root of autoimmune and metabolic disorders like diabetes. The lining of your digestive tract works as a barrier to keep out damaging particles. The lining contains tiny holes that allow specific substances to pass through. When something damages this barrier, larger particles are now allowed to pass through into the bloodstream and cause an immune reaction and inflammation.
Some indicators that leaky gut may be the culprit include feeling bloated, having sensitivities to foods, thyroid conditions, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, skin issues like acne or rosacea, weight gain, and other digestive issues. If leaky gut is the problem, begin by healing the root cause. Start by dietary changes such as adding bone broth, raw cultured dairy, fermented vegetables, coconut products, sprouted seeds, and a good probiotic.
Essential Oils that May Help
Cinnamon oil and coriander oil have been shown to benefit diabetics. Cinnamon oil works with the pancreas while coriander works with the liver to help balance blood sugar levels. Apply the oil mixed with coconut oil, to the bottom of your feet.
Lowering your stress levels has a direct benefit for diabetics in maintaining and lowering blood sugar levels. It’s important to keep stress to a minimum if you are diabetic since the hormone cortisol will have a direct impact on insulin levels in the body. Along with other relaxation techniques, monitor your blood sugar level frequently, and take several 10-minute exercise breaks throughout the day.
Hormones That Affect or Are Affected
Balancing glucose levels in the blood is a delicate process. The pancreas, located just below the stomach, is an organ in our bodies that produces a hormone called insulin. The key job of insulin is to take the sugar, known as glucose, out of the blood and get it to the cells where it will produce energy for the body. If energy needs in the body have already been met, insulin will help to transform that sugar to be stored as glycogen or fat, which is why high levels of sugar in the blood lead to obesity or excess weight gain. The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to also have a negative effect on the hormone insulin.
Symptoms and Causes of Diabetes – https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes
National Diabetes Statistics Report – https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf
PubMed Type 1 Diabetes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024702/
Visser, J. Journal of Diabetes and leaky gut – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886850/
Effect of chromium on diabetes – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1582-4934.2003.tb00233.x/full
Journal of Ethnopharmacology – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874104000315
J Educ Health Promot, Prevention and control of Type 2 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3977406/
Diabetes and Herbal Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92755/
Sugar Consumption and Diabetes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26376619
Fiber and Diabetes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4415962/