A natural approach to Type II Diabetes:
– How not to get it
– Help if you have it.
By ASNH (American School of Natural Health)
Type II Diabetes has grown to become one of the greatest health issues worldwide, negatively affecting an increasing number of adults and children. It can have serious and life-changing consequences, and the cost of conventional treatments is damaging national economies. The good news is that if you are looking to reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes, or you have it and want to help yourself feel better, there is plenty that you can do about it, with help from natural therapies.
Why do we get Type II Diabetes?
It has been linked to dietary factors including excess sugar in the diet, lack of exercise, stress, overweight, ageing, and even pollutants in our bodies from food, industrial or environmental sources. Type II Diabetes is caused by the cells of the body no longer responding appropriately to the hormone insulin, which is made in our pancreas. This is known as insulin resistance.
Here’s a summary of what happens: when the body doesn’t respond appropriately to the message of insulin, which is an instruction to draw sugar from the blood into the cell for energy production, the sugar will stay in the blood and the body will respond by telling the pancreas to produce even more insulin. With evermore insulin flooding the system, cells can become unresponsive to it and create a vicious cycle. The pancreas may eventually be unable to respond to the call for more insulin.
Blood sugar levels
The body needs insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the bloodstream makes the blood sticky and thick which can damage the tiny capillaries and affect blood flow in the body. The effects of this are far-reaching and may include: heart and circulatory problems, damage to the peripheral nerves and blood vessels, especially in the feet, damage to the nerves and blood vessels of the eye, contributing to loss of sight, damage to the exquisitely fine filtering mechanism in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney problems, infections, high blood pressure and malfunction of the whole body.
The current medical approach encourages a reduction in weight (if appropriate) through a low fat, low sugar diet, modifying carbohydrate intake and increasing physical activity. Drugs are prescribed for reducing blood sugar and improving insulin responsiveness; metformin is the first drug of choice, with a cascade of other drugs if the response to metformin is not sufficient. Blood pres-sure and anti-platelet (anti-clotting) medication may also be prescribed. Diabetes medications can have a range of side effects both in the short and longer term.
The first tenet of nutritional medicine taught at ASNH, is that prevention is better than cure! But even if you have the condition already, by making changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity to support better health.
Exercise is a crucial part of treating/preventing Type II Diabetes. One of the easiest ways to regu-late blood sugar levels is to exercise regularly. This encourages the muscle cells to take up sugar when sugar levels are too high and to burn the sugar as fuel.
Fit exercise into your daily routine:
• Go up and down the stairs as many times as possible
• Park at the far end of the car park
• Get off the bus one or two stops early
• Try to get out of breath 3-6 times daily
• Use a standing desk or improvise one by putting your keyboard on a stack of books for some of your working day.
Re-think your diet
ASNH-trained natural health practitioners view nutrition as the cornerstone of health,.. and believe that natural is best! Changing to a low-fat low-sugar diet that is still processed is unlikely to maximize your health. Swap fast food and ready meals for cook-from-scratch fresh whole-foods, preferably organic in order to cut down on any residues from toxic pesticides. Ditch artificial in-gredients for real ones, and steer clear of ‘low sugar’ options that mean artificial sweeteners have been used, with all their controversial effects on health.
Natural nutritional therapy for Type II Diabetes focuses on increasing the sensitivity of insulin receptor sites and keeping the sugar ‘hit’ of a meal low, known as low glycemic load (GL). This ena-bles the body to better stabilize blood sugar and energy levels by more effectively controlling glucose entry into cells. By doing this we can prevent people from progressing from a prediabetic state of insulin resistance (also called metabolic syndrome or syndrome X), and may even reverse a diabetic status!
As well as reducing foods which decrease insulin sensitivity, we also want to increase foods which heighten insulin sensitivity.
Home Remedies Diabetes:
• Sweet, sugar laden foods such as candy, chocolate and honey
• White flour bread, pasta and pastry products such as cakes and biscuits
• White rice
• Fruit juice, fizzy drinks or soda pop
These foods and drinks cause a large bolus of glucose to be absorbed into the bloodstream at once, leading to a large release of insulin, thus contributing to insulin resistance.
• Meals or snacks with some fat and protein, never carbohydrate only.
• Cinnamon – a great insulin sensitizing replacement for sugar or honey
• More fiber – in the form of fresh vegetables and fruits. Fiber delays gastric emptying, thus reducing the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream
• Legumes – such as chickpeas, lentils and beans, and whole grains – for slower energy release, including quinoa and oats. These have been shown to increase insulin receptor site sensitivity
• Tree nuts – preferably raw and unsalted. People who eat tree nuts have lower rates of diabetes than those who don’t
• Onions and garlic, fenugreek tea and ginseng tea are recommended to support the body’s digestive energy, which is critical in blood sugar management.
A qualified natural health practitioner can help create a tailor-made dietary and lifestyle plan to support your health, taking into account your health history, your current state of health, your medications and their side effects, your personal weight loss or lifestyle goals, and if supplementing, any drug-nutrient interactions. For example vitamin B12 or calcium might be recommended for long term metformin users, to offset metabolism issues from metformin use and minimize risk of complications of deficiency such as nerve damage.
Your practitioner may consider nutritional supplements such as
• Alpha-lipoic acid which helps to sensitize insulin receptor sites, and increases the ability of the liver to perform detoxification pathways
• Chromium polynicotinate which has been proven to be very effective in reducing insulin resistance and aiding weight loss
• Vitamin D3 to improve insulin sensitivity
• A very high quality B Multi-vitamin with magnesium to support energy production.
Nutritional supplements should never be used as a replacement for dietary changes.
Your practitioner may look at herbal preparations such as:
• Juniper Berry and Bitter Melon to improve glucose tolerance
• Bilberry Leaves to increase vascular integrity
• Indian Kino (Pterocarpus marsupium) which has been shown to help produce more insulin
• Dandelion root to protect the liver, which is a storehouse of glucose
• Gymnema sylvestre to reduce sensitivity to and craving for sweet taste and helps to improve insulin response.
Please don’t self-prescribe. See a qualified natural health practitioner for education and to deter-mine appropriate supplements, herbs and doses for your specific circumstances.
Stress is a contributory factor in the development of metabolic syndrome, which often precedes diabetes and can increase the risk of developing Type II Diabetes. Identifying and dealing with causes of stress is key in all ill health, which is why natural health practitioners take a holistic view of physical and emotional factors that may be affecting someone’s health. To take drugs to beat stress is not a solution. Better to address the cause of stress and make the necessary changes.
Acupuncture can help you manage diabetic symptoms and provide support for complications of the disease. It has been shown to increase insulin production, improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. It can help to combat obesity, which is the primary risk factor for developing Type II Diabetes, and it can modulate our stress response. Acupuncture can also help improve blood circulation, thus helping to slow the onset and progression of diabetic circulatory complications.
Clean up your act
It’s not only agricultural residues and artificial additives in the food and drink that we consume that can increase our toxic burden and make us more susceptible to illness! We’re all living in a sea of industrial pollutants and electro-smog these days, and the cumulative effects can over-whelm our body’s ability to detoxify and stay well. It therefore makes sense to take control of the things that we can, like the personal care products and household products that touch our skin, and can quickly enter our bloodstream. Get wise about the overall health-effects of commonly-used ingredients, and why more and more people are choosing natural products.
Want to learn more? Enroll on the Herbal Remedies Course today!
Articles on this website are based upon the opinions of their respective author(s). None of the information on this website is intended as medical advice nor replaces the advice of a qualified health care professional.