by Matt Targett
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is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent conditions in North
America. Factors such as poor diet and inactive lifestyles seem
to be key factors in our society that lend themselves to this
disease. Diabetes is a condition of faulty carbohydrate, fat and
protein metabolism which results in elevated blood sugar levels.
Approximately 10% of diabetes patients suffer from type 1 (insulin
dependent) diabetes. This condition usually begins in childhood
and is caused by a lack of insulin production from the Beta cells
of the pancreas. The other type of diabetes is Type 2 (non-insulin
dependent) diabetes. This condition usually affects people over
the age of 40 and obesity is present in 90% of these individuals.
For these people, insulin production is normal or elevated. However,
cell sensitivity to the insulin is decreased, therefore it can
not perform its job of telling cells to pick up sugar from the
blood sugar levels are not well maintained and stabilized, a variety
of conditions and symptoms may arise. Some of the most immediate
symptoms of untreated diabetes are increased thirst and urination,
weight loss, disturbances in vision, and yeast vaginitis in women.
Some more long term conditions associated with diabetes include
diabetic neuropathy (especially of the feet), atherosclerosis
or plaque formation in the arteries, elevated cholesterol, kidney
disease, and damage to the retina and lens of the eyes.
of these conditions can be avoided or lessened in severity with
strict control of ones blood sugar levels. Although this can be
accomplished somewhat through the use of insulin and hypo-glycemic
agents (medications), the most effective approach is to look at
the entire lifestyle of the patient and make necessary changes.
Perhaps the most important area to make adjustments in is the
diet. The key is to avoid foods which will cause sharp rises in
blood sugars. These include refined sugars and refined carbohydrates
like processed flours and saturated fats. What we need to increase
in the diet are foods which are converted slowly into sugars or
those which are digested at a slower more constant rate. These
include foods high in fiber and complex carbohydrates like beans,
legumes and whole grains. Fructose or fruit sugar is also better
than refined sugars as it does not need to be broken down through
additional processes in the liver before it becomes glucose.
useful practice is to "graze" or eat five or six smaller
meals throughout the day rather than two or three large ones.
This allows our bodies to utilize food at a more even rate. Another
key issue which needs to be addressed in the diabetic individual
is maintaining proper weight. It is a fact that an obese person
will have increased insulin production. This is not to our benefit
as it will cause the insulin receptors on our fat and muscle cells
to become less sensitive to insulin, the very problem we are trying
to avoid. It is therefore of utmost importance that diabetics
try to achieve a healthy weight. This is best done through gradual
weight loss from adjustments in diet and a more active lifestyle.
also know for a fact that physical activity alone greatly regulates
our blood sugars and often decreases our need for medications
by making our cells more sensitive to insulin. The best way to
develop a diet and activity regiment that would be best suited
to yourself would be to consult your physician or naturopath and
determine what types of professional support you would most benefit
supplementing the diet of the diabetic, we want to help control
the blood sugars, but we also want to keep in mind other conditions
that may need to be addressed concurrently such as high blood
pressure and high cholesterol. Chromium is perhaps the best place
to start as it increases our glucose tolerance, decreases cholesterol
and decreases our fasting glucose levels. Vitamin C, biotin and
magnesium are just a few of the others we may use with the diabetic
patient to aid in carbohydrate metabolism and maintaining nerve
function. Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin E and grapeseed extract
are also important to help prevent free radical damage that the
diabetic may be more susceptible to.
are many plants which are also very helpful in treating diabetes.
Onions, garlic, bitter melon, Jerusalem artichoke, fenugreek and
Gymnema sylvestre are all proven regulators of blood sugars which
can all be used very safely. Bilberry and ginko are also commonly
used to help maintain circulatory and ocular health. Diabetes
is a serious condition, but fortunately it is one that can be
controlled to a tremendous degree by lifestyle and diet. If you
think you may be experiencing any of the early signs of this condition
it is important that you speak with your physician or naturopath
so that early preventative and management steps can be taken.
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