Understanding Type II Diabetes

"Fewer than half of people with type II diabetes know they have it or consult a physician." Diabetes can be devastatin.

Diabetes can be devastating. Once it develops it is chronic, requires full-time attention and has a significant impact on health, quality of life and life expectancy. In our western way of living, it is fast becoming one of the most common “affluent culture” epidemics.

To understand this disease, it’s important to know the difference between the two main types. Type I (insulin dependent), which affects a very small percentage of people, is usually diagnosed in children and adolescents. This type requires insulin shots because the pancreas is not able to produce insulin (a hormone that promotes the uptake of sugar by the cells of the body).

Type II (non-insulin dependent) makes up about 90 per cent of all diabetic cases. It occurs typically after age 40 but is being found at increasingly younger ages, even in children. It is predominant in western industrialized cultures, where refined, processed and fibre-depleted diets are found. Besides poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity are by far the most significant known risk factors. The type II diabetic person often eats high amounts of refined sugar and carbohydrates. This leads to imbalances in blood sugar levels, exhausting the pancreas and causing body cells to become resistant to insulin. Low insulin or cell insensitivity causes blood sugar levels to persistently elevate, leading to serious health complications.

The classic symptoms of fatigue, frequent urination, and excessive thirst and hunger are often unattended to, and medical attention is often not sought by the patient. In fact, fewer than half of people with type II diabetes know they have it or consult a physician. The long-term complications, especially when untreated, are high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, stroke, nerve damage, sexual dysfunction, vision loss, kidney damage and diabetic foot disorders.

The general medical consensus on treatment of type II diabetes is that lifestyle management is at the forefront of therapy options. In addition to exercise, weight control and nutritional therapy, oral sugar-lowering drugs and insulin injections are the conventional therapies.

Dietary Recommendations

Most type II cases can be controlled by a healthy diet, especially with early diagnosis and intervention. No single dietary approach is appropriate for all patients, but what’s often recommended is a diet low in simple sugar intake and high in cereal grains, legumes and root vegetables. Generally, an optimal diet is composed of 60 to 65 percent complex carbohydrates (including fibre), 25 to 30 percent fat and 10 to 20 percent protein, with limited or no alcohol consumption. The following guidelines are also helpful:

  • Increase high-fibre and complex carbohydrates such as oatbran, fresh fruit (pears and apples) and legumes (beans and soy products).
  • Increase fresh vegetable intake to five to six cups per day.
  • Include onions, garlic and ginger on a daily basis.
  • Avoid all simple sugars found in desserts, baked goods
    and pastas.
  • Avoid saturated fats and trans fatty acids (fried foods, fatty red meats, margarine).
  • Increase omega-3 and -9 oils (salmon, herring, halibut, mackerel, flax seed and extra-virgin olive oil).
  • Avoid highly processed and refined foods (packaged and canned).

Natural Therapies

Alternative therapies with anti-diabetic activity have been researched extensively and are increasingly popular as treatments. These therapies include medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements and chelation therapy.

Before the advent of insulin, diabetes was treated with plant medicines, and over the last 20 years scientific research has, in fact, confirmed their effectiveness. Those herbs found to be most effective are onions, garlic, bitter melon, gymnema sylvestre and fenugreek.

Nutritional supplements, specifically chromium, all the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, minerals (magnesium, zinc, potassium and biotin) and omega-3 oils have all shown in research to not only help regulate blood sugar, but also to prevent and control the many complications of diabetes.

Chelation therapy, which is an intravenous treatment using EDTA, a safe chelating agent, is used commonly for diabetic patients. The benefits of chelation for diabetic patients are improved energy, restored nerve function, a decrease in the need for medication and improved blood sugar regulation.

Placing a strong focus on lifestyle factors and early diagnosis can easily be achieved and is essential to preventing this disease.

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