Diabetes is a chronic health problem that involves elevated blood sugar levels. The metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats directly or indirectly leads to the production of the substance glucose, also known as blood sugar. Glucose is needed to supply energy to every cell in the body. If glucose levels become too elevated, then they become toxic to the brain and other body organs. With diabetes, two main problems can occur. One is a deficiency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that transports glucose into cells. The second is the resistance of the cells to insulin so that blood sugar cannot enter the cells. According to the American Diabetes Association, 6.2 percent of the population has diabetes; with one third of the people (5.9 million) unaware they have the disease.
Diabetes is categorized into three main types. In type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes, the production and the secretion of insulin by the pancreas are severely deficient. Type 1 diabetes usually develops during childhood or adolescence. Because insulin levels are absent or dramatically low, people with type 1 need to inject themselves with insulin and monitor their blood sugar daily. This condition is also thought to involve an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system attacks and damages its own pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of U.S. cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes, is by far the more common of the two: about 90 to 95 percent of the diabetes in the United States is type 2, affecting over 16 million people. It strikes during adulthood, most often in the elderly or in the obese over forty. It is becoming increasingly common with children, due to the lack of exercise, obesity, and poor dietary habits. People with type 2 can produce sufficient insulin, but the insulin and the glucose it transports cannot effectively enter into the cells. This category of diabetes is most often linked to a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber, and it can usually be treated with an effective diet, exercise, and specific nutritional supplements.
The third category is known as gestational diabetes, diabetes that occurs during a woman's pregnancy.
All three types of diabetes are very serious medical conditions. When left unmonitored and untreated, blood-sugar levels can swing from dramatically low (hypoglycemia) to dangerously high (hyperglycemia). Hypoglycemia comes on quickly and leaves you feeling dizzy, pale, sweaty, and confused. You may feel uncoordinated or have palpitations. If your glucose levels are not raised, your symptoms could grow worse, and you could lapse into a coma. Hyperglycemia isn't much better. It may take hours or days to develop and can result in diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition. Over the long term, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney and nerve disorders, loss of vision, and other problems. The high levels of blood sugar can also leave the body vulnerable to infection.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you must work very closely with a good doctor and follow a lifelong treatment plan tat includes medication, diet and exercise. Complementary therapies, while they may not substitute for conventional medical treatment, can provide helpful support to your taxed endocrine and other systems and help decrease the need for medications and reduce the long-term complications of the disease. In very rare cases some people are able to get off insulin therapy when a comprehensive natural approach is followed. This, of course, should never be tried without a doctor's supervision.
People with type 2 diabetes must also take their disease very seriously can consult a doctor on a regular basis; however, they will usually find that a comprehensive dietary, exercise, and supplemental program will reduce or eliminate the need for medication. No matter which kind of diabetes you have, you must always talk to your doctor about any therapies you plan to incorporate into your protocol. And never go off your medication without a doctor's consent.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch and Mark Stengler
Super Prescription #1 Chromium Picolinate – LifeSource Products Take a daily total of up to 1,000 mcg. Chromium improves glucose tolerance and balances blood-sugar levels.
Super Prescription # 2 Gymnema Sylvestre - LifeSource Products
Take 400 mg of a 25 percent gymneic acid extract daily. Gymnema improves insulin production in the pancreas, as well as insulin's ability to lower blood-sugar levels.
Super Prescription #3 Alpha Lipoic Acid - LifeSource Products
Take 250 to 1,200 mg daily. Alpha Lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Super Prescription #4 Vanadyl sulfate
Take 100 to 300 mg daily. It improves glucose tolerance in people with type 2 diabetes. Higher dosages should be under the supervision of a doctor.
Super Prescription #5 Cinnamon Extract – LifeSource Products Take 500 mg twice daily. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and utilization.
Super Prescription #6 Multivitamin – High Potency – LifeSource Products - See All of our Multivitamin Products.
This supplies many of the nutrients involved with blood sugar metabolism. Take as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #7 Omega 3, 6 9 - LifeSource Products - See All of our Omega 3 – Fish Oil Products.
Take a fish oil supplement with a combined total of 1,000 mg of DHA and EPA. Essential fatty acids are needed for proper insulin function, and they support nerve health.
|Super Prescription #8 Blood Sugar Control - LifeSource ProductLifeSource's Blood sugar control formula is designed to help balance and maintain healthy blood sugar levels in the body. Take as directed on the container. OUR TOP SELLER!
See All Products and Info for Diabetes
Because these symptoms may not seem serious, many people with diabetes remain undiagnosed. If they apply to you or to your child, see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Frequent urination (children may be constant bed wetters)
- Strong thirst
- Excessive appetite
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- A poor diet (particularly in type 2)
- An autoimmune reaction (due to a viral infection, environmental toxin, food allergy) is one proposed theory as to the origin of some causes of type 1 diabetes.
- Chronic stress and the resulting stress hormone imbalance
- Chronic stress and the resulting stress hormone imbalance
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially of chromium, B vitamins, zinc, vanadium, and vitamin D
The most important therapy for diabetes is a healthful diet. These dietary suggestions will help regulate your levels of sugar and also reduce your risk of complications, such as cardiovascular disease.
Follow a diet that's high in fiber (vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains). Water-soluble fiber, as found in oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and apples, helps to balance blood sugar. Ground flaxseeds should be consumed daily. Consume 1 tablespoon with each meal or 1/4 cup daily. Make sure to drink plenty of water when you start taking flaxseeds (10 ounces per tablespoon). A daily total of 50 mg of fiber daily is a great goal.
Consume vegetable protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, peas) or a lean animal protein (turkey, chicken, fish) with each meal. Protein drinks that have low sugar levels can be consumed. Protein helps smooth out blood-sugar levels. Many people with diabetes benefit from increasing the relative amount of protein in the diet.
Focus on quality fats. Fish such as salmon is excellent, as are nuts and seeds. Use olive oil and flaxseed oil with your salads.
Instead of eating three large meals, have several smaller meals throughout the day to keep your insulin and blood-sugar levels steady. Or have three main meals with healthy snacks in-between. Do not go longer than three hours without eating.
Chromium deficiency has been linked to diabetes, so eat lots of brewer's yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, cheese, soy products, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic will also lower blood-sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
Enjoy plenty of berries, plums, and grapes, which contain phytochemicals that protect your vision.
Focus on foods with a low glycemic load value.
Foods to Avoid
Stay away from simple sugars. Obvious no-no's are candy, cookies, sodas, and other sweets.
White, refined bread also spikes blood-sugar levels. Whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas are better choices. Brown rice, barley, oats, spelt, and kamut are complex carbohydrates that are good choices.
Avoid cow's milk. Some studies have found a link between cow's milk ingestion and type 1 diabetes in children. It appears that some children, due to genetic reasons, react to cow's milk protein (casein), which causes an autoimmune reaction, with the pancreas.
Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
Cut back on your consumption of saturated fat. Found in red meat and dairy products, it has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Avoid artificial sweeteners. Instead, use diabetic-safe and more healthful natural sweeteners, such as stevia or xylitol.
Avoid high glycemic load foods.
Glycemic index (GI) has become a popular term, as it is more meaningful than the label "simple carbohydrates." GI refers to the rise of blood sugar after ingesting a specific food. This numerical value is compared to the GI of glucose at a value of 100. Lower glycemic values are recommended for people with obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. For example, a Coca-Cola soft drink has a glycemic index of 63, whereas a serving of kidney beans has a value of 23.
Glycemic Index Guidelines:
GI of 70 or more is considered high. GI of 56 to 69 is considered medium. GI of less than 55 is considered low.
Recently, doctors and researchers have placed more value on the glycemic load (GL) value of foods. The glycemic load takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of a particular food. The glycemic index tells you how quickly a carbohydrate turns into blood sugar, but it neglects to take into account the amount of carbohydrates in a serving, which is important. The higher the glycemic load value, the greater the blood-sugar level and the resulting stress on insulin levels. This value is attained by multiplying the amount of carbohydrates contained in a specified serving size of the food by the glycemic index value of that food, and then dividing by 100. For example, an apple has a GI of 40, compared to glucose, which is the baseline at 100, but the amount of carbohydrates available in a typical apple is 16 grams. The GL is calculated by multiplying the 16 grams of available carbohydrate times 40 and then dividing by 100 to give a decimal number of approximately 6. Compare this to a serving of Rice Krispies that has a glycemic index of 82 and available 26 carbohydrates, making a glycemic load of 21. Another example would be macaroni and cheese, which has a glycemic load of 32.
Glycemic Load Guidelines:
GL of 20 or more is considered high GL of 11 to 19 is considered medium GL of 10 or less is considered low.
Biotin is involved with glucose metabolism and is helpful for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Take 9 to 16 mg daily.
An antioxidant formula supplies additional antioxidants, which generally are required in higher amounts in people with diabetes. Take as directed on the container.
B-complex vitamins are involved in blood sugar metabolism and help treat diabetic symptoms such as neuropathy. Take a 50 mg B-complex daily.
Vitamin B12 is helpful for the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Take 1,000 mcg sublingually or by injection from your doctor (1 cc twice weekly).
Vitamin C helps prevent the complications of diabetes. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.
Magnesium is involved with insulin production and utilization. Take a daily total of 500 to 750 mg. Reduce dosage if loose stools occur.
CoQ10 tends to be low in people with diabetes. One study found that it has a blood-sugar-lowering effect. CoQ10 prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation, which is more prevalent in people with diabetes.
Vitamin E improves glucose regulation and prevents cholesterol oxidation. Take 800 to 1,200 IU daily of a formula containing tocotrienols and tocopherols.
Banaba leaf has been shown in animal and human studies to lower blood-sugar levels. Take 16 mg three times daily.
Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract balances the immune system, which is important for type 1 diabetes. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
Pancreas extract supports pancreatic function. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
Adrenal extract supports adrenal gland function, which is also important for blood-sugar regulation. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
DHEA is often low in people with diabetes. If tests show that you have low levels, take 5 to 25 mg daily under a doctor's supervision.
Psyllium has been shown to reduce blood-sugar levels. It is a good source of fiber. Take up to 5 grams daily.
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been shown in a study to help improve blood-sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Take 200 mg daily.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) can help balance blood-sugar levels. Take 5 ml twice daily of the tincture form or 200 mg in a capsule form, three time daily of a standardized extract.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is an important herb for the diabetic. It stabilizes blood sugar and helps reduce your risk of heart disease and other circulatory disorders by improving blood flow, lowering elevated blood pressure, and reducing levels of "bad" cholesterol. Take 300 to 450 mg twice daily.
Billberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) may help to prevent diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Take 160 mg twice daily of a product standardized to 25 percent anthocyanosides.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is another herb that stabilizes blood sugar. Take a product with an equivalent dosage of 15 to 50 grams daily.
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil may help prevent and treat diabetic neuropathy. Take a product containing 480 mg daily of GLA (the active essential fatty acid in evening primrose).
Teas made with peppermint, chamomile, and passionflower all have soothing properties and encourage relaxation.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Diabetes puts additional stress on almost every part of your body and every area of your life. Keep your emotional health in balance by experimenting with stress-reduction techniques. When you find one or two you like, practice them on a regular basis.
- Don't smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. If you are diabetic, you are vulnerable to heart and kidney damage, both of which are linked to smoking. You may also have circulation problems, and smoking impairs blood flow.
- Poor circulation and nerve damage can lead to foot ulcers in diabetics. Keep the blood flowing through your feet by wearing comfortable shoes that fit well.
- If you're obese and have type 2 diabetes, you need to lose weight.
- Alternating hot and cold compresses, applied to the abdomen, just over the pancreas and the kidneys, will encourage proper insulin production, along with regular elimination of fluids from your kidneys.
- Exercise regularly to maintain optimal blood-sugar levels. Walking after meals is effective for some people.
- If you're a woman and want to conceive, you blood-sugar levels must be under control before you get pregnant; otherwise, your baby will be at risk for developing birth defects. It often takes months of treatment before glucose levels become stable.