What is diabetes and how does it affect the body?
Diabetes is a very common, serious condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high as the body has difficulties to utilize it properly. Diabetes occurs
- when the pancreas does not produce any insulin
- when the insulin production is insufficient
- when the insulin produced by the pancreas does not work properly (insulin resistance)
There are many forms of diabetes, but the two most common are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells, the pancreatic beta cells. This type of diabetes afflicts children and young adults, although the disease onset can occur at any age. People with this type of diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive. There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes.
The majority of all diabetes is Type 2 diabetes (estimated 85%-95%), which in many cases can be prevented or reversed. People with type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use the insulin they produce, but can often manage their condition through diet, exercise, and supplementation, although many go on to require medication, including insulin, to properly control blood glucose levels. It is estimated that 60 per cent or more of type 2 diabetes could be prevented. Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance - a condition where the body cells cannot properly utilize insulin. With time the need for insulin in the body rises, but the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Research shows that exercise and moderate weight loss can delay or even prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes in adults with the high risk of developing diabetes.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes represent a serious health threat. In 2007 diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the USA. It is estimated that approximately 7.8 per cent of the US population has diabetes. About one quarter of all cases remains undiagnosed. Statistics show that people who are obese are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than people who manage to keep their weight at optimal levels.
Diabetes can affect every organ in the body. People with diabetes are susceptible to
- cardiovascular disease that may lead to heart attack and stroke
- vision problems including blindness in extreme cases
- nerve damage in the lower extremities that may lead to gangrene and amputation
- kidney damage
- gum disease that may lead to the loss of teeth
To prevent the diabetes related diseases, people with diabetes must make radical changes in their lifestyle:
- they have to lose weight if they are obese and learn to keep their weight in the optimal range
- they have to change their nutrition and follow a healthy meal plan
- they have to increase their physical activity and develop an exercise program
- besides keeping their blood glucose at the healthy level, they must control their blood pressure and their cholesterol levels
Diabetes reversal plan has to involve healthy nutrition and supplementation with blood glucose regulating supplements as well as physical activity. Self-education is vital. When we understand the dangers of diabetes and what is happening in our body when we eat, it is easier to introduce lifestyle changes and follow healthy nutritional plan. These strategies are not only life-saving. They allow people with diabetes to live a more normal, happier lives.
Anti-diabetes action plan involves:
- healthy nutrition
- stress control
Obesity is maybe one of the most important factors in developing insulin resistance syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. About ninety per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. It could not be stressed enough that weight loss is vital in reversing in preventing Type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is very important as the fat cells secret pro-inflammatory proteins that interfere with the insulin receptors. There are some risks associated with a rapid weight loss. It is therefore advisable to consult a nutritionist who will be able to assess overall health of a person and devise an optimal nutritional plan. A low glycemic load (GL) diet created by the British nutritionist Patrick Holford as well as the Mediterranean Diet have proven to be most effective for preventing and reversing Type 2 diabetes. Nutrition rich in healthy oils, lean protein, whole grains, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is beneficial to health. It is important to avoid saturated and hydrogenated fat, sugar and all foods with sugar added to it, as well as coffee as it negatively affects the blood sugar levels. For those with a "sweet tooth" choosing a healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, is important.
Supplements to regulate blood sugar
- Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant made by our body. It is present in every cell where it converts glucose into energy. It is both, water and fat soluble. Research shows that it can regulate blood sugar levels. It is also useful in reducing the nerve damage caused by diabetes. As a nutritional supplement it is best taken in its biologically active form as R-lipoic acid. Daily dose is 300 mg.
- Bitter gourd (Mormodica charantia) is well known in China for its medicinal properties, especially for its ability to regulate blood sugar. At least three active compounds involved in blood sugar regulation have been identified, most importantly charantin and polypeptide P. The Chinese use bitter gourd as vegetable in various dishes or as a tea. In the West an ongoing research is being conducted and the results are very promising as the active compounds appear to regulate sugar metabolism in the body.
- Chromium polynicotinate is an organic form of the non-toxic mineral, essential for metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat in the body. Chromium helps to restore blood glucose balance. It increases both, insulin binding and insulin effectiveness. Moreover, it increases the number of insulin receptors. Research shows that up to 50 per cent Americans are deficient in chromium. Chromium can safely be taken in a dose of 400-1000 µg per day, which is more than eight times the current allowance. There is no known toxicity even at levels that are ten times higher than the recommended dose.
- Cinnulin PF is a proprietary water soluble extract of cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii). Cinnulin appears to support glucose transport mechanisms and to diminish the blood glucose spikes that normally follow after a meal. The recommended dosage is 250 mg before each meal. It is important to know that cinnamon contains volatile oils that can be toxic if cinnamon is consumed in large amounts over a long period of time. Cinnulin, on the other hand, is extracted in a process in which the toxins found in whole cinnamon are filtered out.
- Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity. Studies suggest that magnesium-rich diet can significantly lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance can be mitigated with supplementary magnesium. The recommended dose is 400 mg per day. For a better absorption magnesium is best taken with its co-factor vitamin B6.
- Medicinal mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) contain compounds that can significantly lower blood sugar. These mushrooms have been used for centuries to successfully treat diabetes in China and Japan.
- Vanadium is an essential trace mineral that is associated with the regulation of blood sugar. Vanadium as vanadyl sulfate has been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and improve insulin sensitivity in people with Type 2 diabetes. Some vanadyl complexes, especially the vanadyl complex of garlic compound allixin, show strong insulin-mimetic activity. An extensive research is being conducted all over the world. Recommended doses of vanadium do not exceed 30 µg. Because the much higher therapeutic doses may be toxic to the body, it is not recommended to supplement with vanadium without supervision of a trained health care provider.
- Zinc is involved in many bodily functions. Among others it is important to normal insulin activity. It regulates the production of insulin by the beta cells in the pancreas and stimulates the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity in the body. A study conducted in Finland shows that zinc helps prevent heart attacks in people with Type 2 diabetes. The recommended daily dose is 15-30 mg. Zinc is best taken with vitamin C and the amino acid histidine.
There are many more herbs and supplements believed to regulate blood sugar. Herbs such as cedar berries, coccinia cardifolia, golden seal root, licorice root, fenugreek, and gymnema are used to support healthy blood sugar. Vitamins A, B complex - especially biotin, C, and E and supplements such as CoQ 10, manganese, and glucomannan are useful in regulating blood glucose. It is important to consult a health care provider before beginning supplementation.
Exercise is vital to health in general, and to prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in particular. Regular exercise supports weight loss. It contributes to a better cardiovascular health and optimal glucose economy in the body. Regular exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity. It is considered that at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week is beneficial because the muscles use more sugar and oxygen during exercise sessions. Studies also show that walking as little as 2.2 miles a day may improve cardiovascular health and contribute to a permanent weight loss.
A continued moderate exercise would decrease blood sugar as the muscles store up to twenty times more glucose than they normally do in a resting state. Intense exercise, on the other hand, may have an opposite effect - the blood sugar level may increase. To the body intensive exercise is stressful and it responds to it by releasing stress hormones that call for more glucose to fuel the muscles. It is important to pay attention to the symptoms of too little or too much blood glucose during or after exercise in order to avoid complications.
Type 2 diabetes and stress
The latest research shows that chronic stress negatively affects blood sugar level in people with diabetes. In people with Type 2 diabetes the blood sugar level goes up. When we are stressed, the body produces stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones cause the blood glucose level to increase as the body needs energy for the "fight or flight" response. In healthy people the blood sugar goes back to normal with the help of body's own compensatory mechanisms. However, when a healthy person suffers from a chronic stress, the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases. In people with Type 2 diabetes stress not only increases the blood sugar level, it also prevents the body from releasing insulin. The blood sugar remains elevated for a prolonged period of time causing irreversible damage in the body. It is absolutely vital to learn how to manage stress and relax properly in order to keep blood sugar from spiking. Moderate exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, or autogenic training are very helpful tools for stress control.
As diabetes in on the rise worldwide, it is more important than ever to stay informed and understand this disease. Radical lifestyle changes may be life saving. Healthy nutrition, physical activity, and careful supplementation can help prevent or even reverse Type 2 diabetes and improve the overall quality of life.
By Dominique Allmon
*Information in this article is for educational purposes only. Diabetes is a serious condition. Please, consult your health care provider before you begin the natural diabetes reversal program.
Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.