More than 24 million Americans currently suffer from type 2 diabetes, and that number is increasing. In fact, diabetes is now three times more prevalent than it was just a generation ago. So it’s reassuring to know that there are natural treatments for type 2 diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Food that you eat is broken down into glucose, the main fuel of the body is glucose. Glucose is then delivered to the cells of the body via the bloodstream, and is used by the tissues to generate the energy needed to function. However, getting the glucose to the tissues is just the first step.
In order for the cells of the body to absorb glucose, a hormone called insulin is required. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin also assists with the uptake of glucose into the liver, where it is converted to a stored fuel known as glycogen.
Diabetes is the condition whereby the system of glucose transport and uptake is compromised, resulting in an inability to maintain a healthy, stable blood glucose concentration.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes refers to the situation whereby the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin from the start. It is an auto-immune disease, whereby the person’s own immune system attacks the insulin
producing cells in the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes is somewhat different. In type 2 diabetes (the most common form of diabetes) insulin is produced, but the cells gradually lose their ability to respond.
The food is digested, the glucose is pushed out into the blood stream, insulin is produced, but for some reason, the cells do respond as they should by absorbing glucose. This is known as insulin resistance.
When glucose levels remain elevated, the pancreas pumps out more and more insulin in a desperate effort to provide the cells with glucose. Ultimately the pancreas can “burn out” and fail to produce sufficient insulin.
The raised blood glucose levels found in diabetes damage various proteins in the body in a process known as glycosylation. Glycosylated proteins lose the ability to function properly. This process can lead to irreversible damage to the blood vessels, heart, eyes, kidneys and other organs.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Often there are no symptoms at all in the first stages of diabetes. It is estimated that one third of people with diabetes are not aware of the fact.
The inability to absorb sufficient glucose can cause non-specific initial symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue, but not always. And in the meantime serious harm is being done.
As the situation becomes worse, the patient typically starts to experience excessive thirst, coupled with excessive urination. The high levels of urination compound the situation by causing relative dehydration, which further increases the concentration of glucose in the blood.
Diabetics are often chronically hungry because of the inadequate uptake if glucose by the cells. This
leads to ravenous cravings, often for carbohydrates. The excess carbohydrates are unable to be utilized as glucose and so are converted to fat and stored. This is why those affected by diabetes are often overweight, even while their tissues are literally starving to death.
Other symptoms associated with diabetes are related to the damage being done to the peripheral tissues and blood vessels. There may be problems with sight, skin ulcers, frequent infections and slow wound healing.
Given the seriousness of this disease, how can it be managed and treated?
Did you know that type 2 diabetes is almost completely preventable using a combination of good nutrition and physical exercise? But if you already have diabetes, consider there is much evidence showing that this condition can be managed and even reversed by lifestyle changes alone.
Diabetes and Your Diet
First and foremost, pay attention to your diet. More than any other single factor, the over-consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, can be held responsible for the current explosion of type 2 diabetes.
Refined carbohydrates require the pancreas to produce huge amounts of insulin. In an environment of continually high insulin, the cells down-regulate their sensitivity to this hormone, leading to insulin resistance. The pancreas pours out even more insulin … and so the self-perpetuating cycle continues.
If you suffer from diabetes, the most important thing you can do is avoid refined carbohydrates.
If you are at all overweight, consider strategies to help lose the excess. The connection between weight and diabetes is so strong that a new term has been coined by the medical profession – diabesity.
Being overweight is the single most important factor in the development of diabetes, and losing just 10% of your total weight can reduce your risk for diabetes by up to 60%!
Why is being overweight a problem? Fat cells are not inert tissue, just lying around weighing you down. No, fat is an active, metabolic tissue which excretes highly inflammatory hormone type chemicals. High levels of these chemicals leads to chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation has been found to play an important role in making the cells resistant to insulin.
Complex Carbohydrates – Diabetic Friendly!
Complex carbohydrates are digested slowly. As a result, the sugars from digestion are released into the blood stream slowly, as opposed to refined carbohydrates. The massive sugar spike associated with refined carbohydrates does not occur with complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are found in unrefined, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. These foods are ideal for weight loss and insulin control.
How Do You Tell A Good Carbohydrate From A Bad One?
Firstly, as mentioned above, god carbohydrates are usually found in whole foods. So eat an orange, do not drink a glass a processed orange juice.
A more objective tool is known as the Glycaemic Index (GI). The GI is a rating system that measures the impact of certain foods on the blood glucose levels. In other words, the GI is an indication of how quickly foods are converted to glucose.
Foods with a high GI will elicit an insulin spike, as a lot of insulin will be required to deal with a rapidly increasing glucose level. Low GI carbs cause only a small increase in insulin. Therefore try to stick to low GI foods as often as possible.
As well as improving the diet, there are specific supplements can help those suffering from diabetes.
Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes
90% of Americans are estimated to be deficient in this mineral. Chromium is essential in the uptake of glucose by making the cells less insulin resistant. The body uses chromium to manufacture glucose tolerance factor (GTF) which aids in the metabolism of sugar.
There are many studies documenting the effective, and sometimes spectacular, results in lowering blood glucose levels simply by taking chromium supplements daily. Although the American Diabetes Association does not endorse chromium supplementation as a form of treatment for diabetes, the research clearly indicates the effectiveness of this therapy.
Foods rich in chromium include romaine lettuce and other leafy greens. Other good sources include egg yolk, Brewer’s yeast, beef and sweet potato.
Note that high GI foods accelerate the loss of chromium from the body. So even if you have an adequate intake of this mineral, a diet high in refined carbohydrates could still cause a deficiency. Another reason to dump the refined carbs!
Nuts are high in fiber and magnesium, both of which help control blood glucose levels and the body’s response to insulin.
Nuts are also amongst the best sources of healthy fats promoting cardiovascular health.
Those who regularly eat a handful or so of nuts at least 5 times a week have been found to be about 20% less likely to get diabetes than those who rarely eat these foods.
Studies have shown that ordinary cinnamon can significantly reduce the glucose levels in people with diabetes. And you don’t need a lot!
Cinnamon contains a chemical compound known as MHCP. This substance not only mimics the effect of insulin in the body, it also acts to increase cellular sensitivity to insulin.
A study on people with diabetes found those given cinnamon at a dosage of 1 – 6 g had blood sugar readings that were 20% lower than those in the control group. The reduction in blood glucose was the same between those taking a little cinnamon and those taking a lot. Those taking higher doses simply experienced the effect more quickly.
Researchers estimate that a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, taken 2 – 3 times per day, can produce dramatic glucose lowering effects.And given how tasty cinnamon is, and how easily it can be combined with various foods and drinks, this is not a hard thing to do!
Natural health practitioners often recommend tarragon for those with diabetes. Whilst tarragon doesn’t appear to have any direct effect on blood sugar levels, it does seem to reduce appetite (helping with weight loss) and helps to curb excessive thirst.
We don’t yet understand how tarragon brings about these effects. The suggestion is that it must work by a different mechanism altogether, and could give people with diabetes yet another treatment option.
Fenugreek has been shown in both animal and human studies to improve blood glucose levels. In one study, participants given 1000 mg of fenugreek seed extract daily showed a significant improvement in blood sugar control and a decrease in insulin resistance, compared with those people who were not given fenugreek.
You need to know that type 2 diabetes is not only treatable, but is also often reversible by completely natural means. It is possible to avoid a lifetime of potent medication and self-administered injections of insulin.
The most important thing you can do is avoid processed foods wherever possible. This alone will help you to lose any excess weight. Add some regular exercise to assist.
Then add chromium, nuts and a few easily obtainable herbs to your dietary regimen.
Then sit back and watch … You’ll be very glad you did!
If you’re looking for more information on this topic, take a look at the books I have listed below. If you’re interested in trying any of the supplements, they are easily available in health food stores, or you can get them online from Amazon.
If have any info or questions regarding this article, please leave me a comment below. I’ll definitely get back to you!