Natural Diabetes Treatment and Prevention

 

Type II Diabetes – Natural Diabetes Treatment and Prevention by Allison Nabours, ND

Diabetes affects 8.3% of Americans of all ages, 11.3% of adults aged 20 years and older, and 25% of persons age 65 and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. Many of us with a strong family history of diabetes worry that it will affect us as we age and are starting to look for ways to prevent blood sugar dysregulation. I am a strong proponent of knowledge as power and want to share ways in which diet and lifestyle can aide in the prevention of the disease and serve as a highly effective natural diabetes treatment method.

Many adults of all ages start feeling the effects of hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, as the first sign their body is having difficulty regulating levels of glucose. Blood glucose is tightly regulated within our system by many hormonal signals with the most well-known being insulin. Insulin is a signal for cells of our body including organs and muscles to allow glucose in for energy. At the onset, receptors that are responsible for opening gates to allow glucose in start to be less responsive to insulin. Over time, higher and higher levels of insulin are required to open gates for glucose to enter the cell. This is what is referred to as insulin resistance. In an effort to lower blood levels of glucose, the pancreas, the organ responsible for insulin production, overshoots the level of insulin required due to increasing insulin resistance and the effect is a roller coaster ride in which blood sugar levels swing from high to low. Individualsdealing with hypoglycemia will feel this swing in blood sugar most after meals high in carbohydrates.

Many will report that 2 hours after a meal they will start to feel shaky, sweaty, and their heart will feel like it is racing. During this time, the most commonly used laboratory test to detect diabetes, fasting glucose, will not show any signs of concern. The reason for this is that the pancreas is still able to produceadequate levels of insulin, but the problem is that changes on the cellular level are still occurring and the progression towards diabetes is continuing.

When I have patients that are having difficulties with blood sugar regulation the test that I encourage most is what is called Hemoglobin A1C. It is a measure of the level of glycosylation of red blood cells. This occurs when blood sugar levels are on average higher throughout the day than they should. I have found that this picks up blood sugar dysregulation much earlier than fasting glucose and helps patients understand the early changes of Type II diabetes. The early stages of blood sugar instability put a lot of stress and over work on the pancreas as the pancreas works overtime to produce adequate levels of insulin. As diabetes progresses, if diet and lifestyle changes aren’t made, this burden on the pancreas results in the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin to decline and blood sugar levels will slowly begin to creep up and changes in fasting glucose can be seen. Throughout this process, however, it is important to understand that these changes can be reversed and that is what I would like to focus on next.

A family history of diabetes doesn’t mean an individual is predestined to a diagnosis of diabetes. I consider it an opportunity to make healthy lifestyle choices that will optimize your health and vitality into the future. When I work with patients with blood sugar issues the first two changes I encourage are increasing exercise and focusing their diet on quality protein sources and vegetables. By far, exercise is the driving force in reducing insulin resistance on the cellular level and reversing the changes that lead to diabetes. For patients, I encourage at least 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. With patients that are just beginning on their journey with exercise I often start with 15 minutes a day and have them work their way up. With diet, I am encouraging patients to really limit carbohydrate intake and with they do indulge in carbohydrates to make it whole grain sources that are high in fiber.

In addition, when eating fruits I encourage patients to choose low glycemic fruits such as berries, apples, and citrus instead of tropical fruits that are higher on the glycemic index. With patients that need additional blood sugar support, I use natural diabetes treatments such as herbs and nutrients to further support their body. Herbs that are particularly indicated include Devil’s Club, Gymnema, and Bitter Melon to name a few. It is quite rewarding to see patients take charge of their health and reverse and avoid changes of diabetesand feel empowered with their health. All it takes is the knowledge and desire to make the needed changes.

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