Diabetes

IN THIS SECTION
 

Diabetes is a life-long disease that requires careful management.

Without consistent attention to managing blood sugar levels, numerous symptoms, conditions, and even death, can be the result.

Insulin injections are not enough. Diabetics also need to balance diet, hormones, and lifestyle, in order to avoid the worst of what diabetes has to offer.

Diabetes, once a rare condition, has become an epidemic. A recent Journal of the American Med Association study estimates the life-time risk for Americans of developing diabetes is astonishingly high (32.8 percent for males and 38.5 percent for females).1 That means if you are reading this (and live in a developed country like the United States) you have a more than 30 percent chance of getting diabetes some time in your life.

What is even more astounding is that because the symptoms of diabetes are somewhat subtle, over one-half of people who have diabetes don’t even know they have the disease.

What is Diabetes?
diabetesDiabetes mellitus is a condition where the pancreas stops producing insulin (or doesn’t produce enough insulin), or the cells of the body stop responding to the insulin that is produced; this is known as insulin resistance.

People first suspect that they have diabetes when they feel tired, are always thirsty and hungry and have to urinate often. A complete list of diabetic symptoms is as follows:

  • Blurry vision
  • Drinking a lot of water (excessive thirst)
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent yeast infections (including vaginal yeast infections)
  • Impotence in men
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss

Certain people are at higher risk for developing diabetes. You are more likely to have diabetes if you:

  • Are in a high-risk ethnic group (African-American, Native American, Hispanic, or Native Hawaiian).
  • Are overweight (especially if you are more than 20% above your ideal body weight).
  • Have a high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level less than or equal to 35 mg/dL* and/or a triglyceride level greater than or equal to 250 mg/dL* (*reference ranges depending).
  • Have any relatives with diabetes mellitus.
  • Have ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or have delivered a baby weighing more than nine (9) pounds.
  • Have high blood pressure (140/90 or higher).

Which Type?

There are two types of diabetes and they have different causes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Type-one diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the pancreas as if it is a foreign invader. The pancreas eventually loses its ability to produce insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type-two diabetes used to be called “adult onset” because it was only seen later in life (children are now the fastest growing segment of the population with this type of diabetes). In type-two diabetes, the cells of the body become progressively resistant to insulin to the point where the pancreas fails and the body can’t utilize sugar for energy production.

Risks and Complications

Diabetes is more than just a disease of blood sugar and blood sugar control. Diabetics are much more likely to have a variety of diseases including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease (including kidney failure), nerve damage (especially in the legs), blindness, leg ulcers, poor wound healing and stroke, painful nerve damage in the legs, to blindness, poor wound healing, leg ulcers and even need amputation.

Diabetes is a devastating disease; here are the estimations of life expectancy from the Journal of the American Medical Association’s review:

“We estimate that if an individual is diagnosed at age 40 years, men will lose 11.6 life-years and 18.6 quality-adjusted life-years and women will lose 14.3 life-years and 22.0 quality-adjusted life-years.”2

That is a lot of lost time on the earth for someone stricken with diabetes. The quality-adjusted life-years underscore the slow progression of the disease with people experiencing many other diseases (such as heart attack, kidney failure…) that severely limit their quality of life.

What to do about Diabetes

Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels Using Diet First

The core functional problem with diabetes is the inability of the pancreas to provide adequate insulin. While diabetics will generally follow the advice of their managing physicians, it needs to be understood that the highs and lows of being diabetic can be managed largely by an awareness of blood sugar control (glycemic control) and the influenced of food consumption on overall health.

sugarRegardless of the diet you follow or the medical diagnosis you have been handed, your primary metabolic goal should always be the same: maintain good blood sugar control. You can achieve and maintain optimal health only when you are on a diet that promotes hormone balance; that balance depends on a steady blood sugar level. Eating the proper combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates regularly and in moderate amounts helps to sustain that balance.

Blood sugar control occurs when insulin and glucagon, two hormones produced by the pancreas, are in balance. Carbohydrate consumption and the resulting rise in blood sugar induce the stimulation of insulin, the hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar and storing excess blood sugar as fat. Protein consumption induces the stimulation of glucagon, the hormone that promotes the mobilization and utilization of fat for energy and, in the process, raises blood sugar.

Insulin and glucagon are antagonists, meaning that the secretion of one acts to balance or modulate the effects of the other. Above-average levels of insulin caused by a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats is associated with almost every disease known to humankind, especially cancer, cardiovascular disease, and, of course, diabetes.

Signs of low blood sugar consist of headaches, brain fog, shakiness, fatigue, worry, carbohydrate cravings, and lethargy. Signs of high blood sugar consist of anxiety, racing mind, nervous energy, headache, difficulty thinking and concentrating, and cravings for protein or fat.

If your blood sugar is too low, you will mobilize cortisol to break down muscle, organ, and bone tissue—not fat—to ensure that a constant supply of blood sugar is delivered to your brain and the rest of your body. In effect, your body digests itself to continue operating. If your blood sugar is sustained at high levels, metabolism becomes chaotic and blood vessels may become damaged, which in turn creates a cascade of undesirable events. Stable blood sugar levels, on the other hand, form a strong foundation for hormone balance and homeostasis.

Medical Approach to Diabetes
Always ask yourself, before willfully taking prescription drugs, “Do I really need this?” For diabetics it is generally understood that insulin is required. However, lifestyle and diet, as well as HPA gland function MUST be considered as well.

  • Insulin: Insulin is used in both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetics, despite the fact that increasing insulin levels are often the cause of more insulin insensitivity as is experienced in Type-2 diabetes.
  • Sulfonylureas: These were the first widely-used anti-diabetic medications, they stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas (examples include: Glucotrol, Micronase and others). POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: Hypoglycemia, upset stomach, skin rash, weight gain.
  • Meglitinides: Theses medications also stimulate the release of more insulin from the pancreas (Prandin, Starlix). POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: Headaches, low blood sugar, sinus infections.

Complementary Approach to Diabetes
Always ask yourself, before willfully taking prescription drugs, “Do I really need this?” For diabetics it is generally understood that insulin is required. However, lifestyle and diet, as well as HPA gland function MUST be considered as well.

  • Insulin: Insulin is used in both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetics, despite the fact that increasing insulin levels are often the cause of more insulin insensitivity as is experienced in Type-2 diabetes.
  • Sulfonylureas: These were the first widely-used anti-diabetic medications, they stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas (examples include: Glucotrol, Micronase and others). POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: Hypoglycemia, upset stomach, skin rash, weight gain.
  • Meglitinides: Theses medications also stimulate the release of more insulin from the pancreas (Prandin, Starlix). POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: Headaches, low blood sugar, sinus infections.

Complementary Approach to Diabetes

  • HPA Hormone Balancing: When the HPA glands are performing at their best, the negative effects of diabetes can be reduced. With saliva based lab tests that measure cortisol and DHEA patterns, natural therapies for hormone balance can be developed. 
  • Supplements for supporting HPA function: A good formula for helping the HPA glands function includes B vitamins as well as synergistic botanicals. 
  • Diet and exercise: Diet and exercise has been shown to be extremely effective in helping people manage their Type-2 diabetes. Many studies have shown the reduction in the need for medication and better blood sugar control.3
  • Chromium Picolinate: Chromium is a mineral and has been shown in studies to reduce blood glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and reduced requirements for medications.4
  • Vanadium: This mineral is widely used for people with diabetes and many animal studies have shown its effectiveness, but good human trials have yet to be performed.5 Vanadium appears to be useful, but more studies need to be performed. 

1 Narayan KM, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Sorensen SW, Williamson DF. Lifetime risk for diabetes mellitus in the United States. JAMA. 2003 Oct 8;290(14):1884-90.
2 Narayan KM, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Sorensen SW, Williamson DF. Lifetime risk for diabetes mellitus in the United States. JAMA. 2003 Oct 8;290(14):1884-90.
3 Orozco LJ, Buchleitner AM, Gimenez-Perez G. Exercise or exercise and diet for preventing type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jul 16;(3):CD003054
4 Broadhurst CL, Domenico P. Clinical studies on chromium picolinate supplementation in diabetes mellitus–a review. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2006 Dec;8(6):677-87.
5 Smith DM, Pickering RM, Lewith GT. A systematic review of vanadium oral supplements for glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. QJM. 2008 May;101(5):351-8.