There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys the beta (insulin-producing) cells of the pancreas. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.

The number one risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is being overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but today, children as young as four years old have been diagnosed with it. Up to 45 percent of new cases of diabetes in children are the type 2 form.

Fifty to 90 percent of those with type 2 diabetes are overweight. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of those with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke. Type 2 diabetes is a disease of poor diet and lifestyle a condition that is totally preventable.

When nutritional strategies and exercise are used, the risk of developing diabetes can be reduced by as much as 58 percent. For some people, insulin dependency can be reduced after following a regime of nutritional changes. The side effects associated with diabetes including blindness, neuropathies (neuropathies are a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes), high cholesterol and heart disease, kidney disease, impotence, loss of circulation, and amputations – can be reduced or avoided by using natural medicines alone or in combination with appropriate drugs.

Health food stores contain an arsenal of natural remedies for fighting diabetes. Nutritional researchers are working to determine what foods and nutrients can prevent or reverse the disease. Two of alive‘s contributors, Michael Lyon, MD, and Michael Murray, ND have worked alongside Vladimir Vuksan, PhD, of the University of Toronto, to find a solution for blood-sugar irregularities. Dr. Vuksan is a recognized expert on the role of diet in the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Vuksan and his colleagues (including Dr. David Jenkins, the developer of the glycemic index) have conducted extensive research with various combinations of edible soluble fibres.

They have discovered that by combining various soluble fibres in specific ratios, the viscosity of the fibres was amplified. This improved viscosity is directly related to its effectiveness in maintaining proper blood-sugar balance and insulin regulation. The fibre lowers after-meal blood-sugar levels by approximately 20 to 40 percent and also lowers insulin secretion by about 40 percent. This results in improvements in the insulin sensitivity index by approximately 50 percent. No drug, natural product, or diet can do this. It is exciting that leaders in the health food industry are working with respected researchers to bring validity to nutritional medicine.

We are just entering the holiday season of sugary foods, more alcohol, stress, and fewer opportunities to exercise. For diabetics, this time of the year is particularly difficult. I suggest you pick up Dr. Murray’s book, How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine (Riverhead Books, 2003) before the holiday season raises your blood sugar.

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