“The problem is we don’t treat diabetes as a dietary problem; we treat it with a lot of drugs, and that never addresses the root problem of the diabetes,” says principal investigator Jason Fung, MD, a kidney specialist at Scarborough and Rouge Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and author of The Complete Guide to Fasting,and The Obesity Code, a 2016 book thought to help popularize intermittent fasting.
I bring this up because sleep apnea increases a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Also, sleep-disordered breathing is also related to proper nutrition throughout life. And perhaps most importantly, the first line of defense in catching sleep-disordered breathing in patients early, are dentists. This is another area where dentists must get involved if we want to tackle the issue of pervasive type 2 diabetes with any success.
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get where it needs to go. When your body senses that you’ve eaten something, your pancreas produces insulin to help your cells absorb sugar. If you didn’t have insulin, your cells wouldn’t receive their glucose fuel, and your body would sense sugar in your bloodstream and eventually store it as fat because your cells didn’t use it.
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is necessary for the body’s overall health. Erratic blood sugar levels can affect the body’s ability to function normally and even lead to complications if left unchecked. Some herbs and spices found in nature do a tremendous job of naturally lowering blood sugar levels, making them a boon for diabetics and pre-diabetics. What’s more, being nature’s multi-taskers, herbs and spices also produce overall health benefits beyond just helping balance blood sugar.
These substances are not considered to be medications by the US FDA and are therefore not regulated as such. This means that there are no standards in place to ensure that a given product contains the substance or dose as described on the label. There are also no requirements to perform studies showing that the products are safe or effective. Side effects of supplements are typically not well understood, and some supplements can interfere with the action of medications.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by the spice turmeric, among other plants. Curcumin seems to have multiple benefits for diabetes symptoms. It has been shown to be a marked inhibitor of reactive oxygen species that promote oxidation damage in cells. Curcumin lowers inflammatory chemicals like tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and that’s good because TNF-a causes insulin resistance and irritates fatty livers. Curcumin can reduce another pro-inflammatory chemical called NF-KB. The above-mentioned actions provide a benefit in diabetes protection and reduce the risk of developing diabetes symptoms and complications. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance pancreatic beta cell functioning and reduce fatty liver deposition. It reduces high blood sugar, A1C, and insulin resistance. It was also shown to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and that is a higher risk in diabetic patients than in nondiabetic patients. A good dose is 200 to 3,000 mg a day.
Recent research shows that the first step in Diabetes management should be for patients to be put on a low carb diet. Patients that are put on a high carb diet find it very difficult to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Patients that are put on a low carb or restricted carbohydrate diet, manage to maintain near normal blood glucose levels and A1cs.
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Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy because hormones interfere with how the body uses insulin. When the pancreas can’t keep up with the insulin demand and blood glucose levels get too high, the result is gestational diabetes. About 2-7 percent of expectant mothers develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Learn more about diabetes and pregnancy.
Swift urges RDs to be informed and stay up-to-date as complementary and alternative medicine data evolves. Use a “whole systems, whole person” approach to health and healing. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a good place to start. “They have an outstanding program on diabetes care that’s multidisciplinary and integrative,” Swift says. You also can receive continuing education credits for attending.
When the insulin levels are unable to keep up with the increasing resistance, blood sugars rise and your doctor diagnoses you with type 2 diabetes and starts you on a pill, such as metformin. But metformin does not get rid of the sugar. Instead, it simply takes the sugar from the blood and rams it back into the liver. The liver doesn’t want it either, so it ships it out to all the other organs — the kidneys, the nerves, the eyes, the heart. Much of this extra sugar will also just get turned into fat.
Anyone with diagnosed Diabetes should consult a physician before making any changes to a diabetes regimen, and especially before changing medication dosages. That being said, improving your diet and eating the foods to help your body heal is your prerogative and your right. For the 65% of America that is overweight, including the 37% that are clinically obese, there is a good chance that many are operating in a pre-diabetic state, or may even have undiagnosed diabetes. Even those without any signs of disease can figure out their insulin levels by at home glucose testing.
If your carb consumption is on the high side (once you add sugar into the mix, you’re most certainly on the high side), it’s stored as fat and you end up with insulin resistance or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The reason behind it is that carbs metabolize into glucose, and limiting carbs helps your body control blood sugar more efficiently. It improves overall blood sugar profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c, which is a diabetes marker. Going low-carb is especially effective if you’re in the early stages when you do not yet need to administer insulin.
It isn’t just keeping blood sugar levels down through insulin control that helps diabetes, but fixing the actual problem causing the diabetes. Addressing just one aspect of the problem (blood sugar or insulin) ignores all the other factors like poor diet, toxins, stress, gut problems, immune issues etc. Instead, this single focuses approach can contribute to the problem, making insulin resistance worse and eventually leading to insulin dependent diabetes when the pancreas shuts down completely. Many doctors and nutrition experts recommend the typical 6-11 servings of complex carbs from whole grain sources daily, suggesting that the fiber helps mitigate insulin response. As I have shown before, 6-11 servings of carbohydrates a day is bad for anyone, but is gasoline on a fire to anyone with an impaired insulin response.
After you are diagnosed with diabetes, by following a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet along with exercise, you may be able to decrease your blood glucose levels to within normal range. Utilizing SMBG (self monitoring of blood glucose), you can see how different foods, as well as meals, influence your blood glucose levels. Doing SMBG along with a healthy diet and exercise is key to getting your diabetes under good control.
Type 1 diabetes is commonly called “juvenile diabetes” because it tends to develop at a younger age, typically before a person turns 20 years old. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The damage to the pancreatic cells leads to a reduced ability or complete inability to create insulin. Some of the common causes that trigger this autoimmune response may include a virus, genetically modified organisms, heavy metals, vaccines, or foods like wheat, cow’s milk and soy. (4)
Note that these medications used to treat type 2 diabetes are typically not used in pregnant or breastfeeding women. At present the only recommended way of controlling diabetes in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is by diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. You should speak with your health-care professional if you are taking these medications, are considering becoming pregnant, or if you have become pregnant while taking these medications.