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Changing the Direction of Diabetes

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Even though Sara is only 34, she was not entirely surprised when her doctor told her that her blood sugar test results showed she was clearly on the road to developing diabetes. </P> <P align=left>Sara realized this was her wake-up call and that she needed to make major changes.

Even though Sara is only 34, she was not entirely surprised when her doctor told her that her blood sugar test results showed she was clearly on the road to developing diabetes.

Sara realized this was her wake-up call and that she needed to make major changes. She began by learning all about diabetes. Her local health food store proved to be one of her best resources.

Sara learned that type 2 diabetes (also called adult-onset diabetes) typically develops after age 40, although younger people are developing diabetes as a combined result of poor nutrition, obesity, lack of exercise, and chronic insulin resistance. She also discovered that diabetics are two to five times more likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes or cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, retinopathy, and kidney disease.

Natural Food Remedies

In her quest for information, Sara discovered the work of Dr. Leigh Broadhurst, author of Diabetes: Prevention and Cure (Kensington Publishing, 1999). Dr. Broadhurst claims that eating the typical North American diet is a proven recipe for blood sugar disaster, and she especially blames diabetes on obesity caused by excessive calories from processed and refined carbohydrates and fats in the diet.

Dr. Broadhurst's dietary recommendations are based on lean protein, fresh vegetables, whole fruits, and moderate amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. She recommends fish, nuts, and cold-pressed unrefined oils such as flaxseed, olive, and sesame as wholesome sources of fat.

Fibre Foods vs. Diabetes

A high-fibre diet, with 35 to 50 grams of fibre daily, is ideal for preventing and controlling diabetes. Fibre slows the rate of food passage through the intestines into the bloodstream, thereby helping to regulate blood sugar levels. In comparison, a low-fibre meal is absorbed more quickly into the blood and causes a surge in blood sugar. Another important benefit of eating high-fibre foods is that it reduces the risk of overeating by giving a sense of fullness and appetite satisfaction more readily than low-fibre foods. While fresh fruit and vegetable juices are refreshingly nutritious, it is better for diabetics or those with a prediabetic condition to eat the whole fruits and vegetables with all the natural fibre. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, flaxseed meal, and fenugreek seed are especially beneficial fibres.

Nutritional and Herbal Supplementation

Sara found references to scientific studies showing the benefits of nutritional and herbal supplementation. Many of the supplements recommended are supplied by health food stores as preformulated products for diabetics. (Dr. Broadhurst's book strongly advises that diabetics using antidiabetic medication consult their doctors before starting a diabetes supplement program.)

Sara's resolve to take greater responsibility for her health led her to make significant changes in her eating and exercise habits. She now eats only whole natural foods with a low glycemic load, avoids trans fats and sugars, and exercises at least 30 minutes daily. Sara, like many others, has learned how to steer clear of diabetes and is living a healthier and happier life.

Supplement Recommendations

Chromium, an essential trace element, is often deficient in North American diets and frequently lacking in people with diabetes and insulin resistance. As a key constituent of the glucose tolerance factor, daily chromium supplementation with 200 micrograms of organically bound chromium decreases fasting glucose levels and improves glucose tolerance.

Vitamins C and E are strongly associated with diabetes control and enhancing insulin response. Both these antioxidant vitamins improve insulin activity and glucose tolerance and are especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. Transport of vitamin C into cells is facilitated by insulin, so vitamin C deficiency in a diabetic may be responsible for many of the vascular complications. Nutritional experts suggest building up to 1,200 IU of natural source vitamin E and to 1,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day.

Manganese works as an important cofactor in the key enzymes of glucose metabolism and diabetics have been shown to have only one-half the manganese of non diabetics.

Magnesium supplementation leads to improved insulin production. Magnesium deficiency interrupts insulin secretion in the pancreas and increases insulin resistance in the body's tissues. Many doctors of natural medicine recommend that diabetics with normal kidney function supplement with 300 to 400 mg of magnesium per day.

Zinc is involved in virtually all aspects of insulin metabolism-synthesis, secretion, and utilization. Diabetics often have lower than normal levels. Take zinc supplements (10 to 25 mg per day) with food to prevent stomach upset.

B-vitamins, especially folic acid, B12, B6, niacin, and biotin have been shown to prevent diabetic complications such as peripheral neuropathy (disorders affecting the sensory or motor nerves). These vitamins also improve glucose tolerance and utilization while reducing homocysteine levels, a risk factor for vascular disease. A high-potency B-complex with additional B6 is recommended.

Coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant, supports carbohydrate metabolization and can help in cases of retinopathy (disorders of the retina that can result in loss of vision). Therapeutic dosage recommended is 50 mg twice daily for up to three months, then reduce the dosage to 30 mg daily.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flax oils support efficient glucose metabolism.

Banaba extract (GlucosolTM) is a medicinal plant that grows in India, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines that has been used traditionally as a treatment for diabetes and hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar). It can lower blood sugar in diabetic people without causing hypoglycemia. A dosage of 16 to 48 mg per day, consumed in divided doses with meals, is effective in reducing blood-glucose and insulin levels.

Gymnema sylvestre is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India and is referred to as Gurmur, which means "sugar destroying." High-quality extracts can lower blood sugar at doses of 200 to 400 mg daily.

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