Diabetes is a result of problems with the pancreatic hormone insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood and is responsible for moving the sugar into the cells. The cells need glucose to produce energy. In people with diabetes, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being taken in by the cells. This condition is called hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia can lead to damaged blood vessels, which may cause eye disease, heart disease, nerve damage to the limbs and organs, as well as kidney disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, 15.7 million Americans have diabetes. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the primary cause of blindness in people between the ages of 20 and 70.
Three types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes: This affects 5 to 10% of people with diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, meaning that the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. This generally occurs at an early age and may result from an immune response after a viral infection.
Type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes, affecting 90-95% of those with diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but in small quantities. The cells may also become resistant to the effects of the insulin in the bloodstream. This type of diabetes generally occurs later in life, however, it is affecting more and more younger people due to the standard American diet. Risk factors include a refined, high-sugar diet, a diet high in saturated or trans-fats, lack of exercise, being overweight, or increased age.
Gestational diabetes: This is a form of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. It affects about 4% of pregnant women. Poor eating, lack of exercise, along with hormonal changes during pregnancy, can affect the body’s’ resistance to insulin. Some women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
The major danger with diabetes is the complications that can arise if insulin levels are not maintained at a constant level. People with diabetes are prone to episodes of both high and low blood sugar. Hyperglycemia (too much glucose in the blood) can cause fatigue, a constant need to urinate, extreme thirst, constant feelings of hunger, loss of weight, and problems with eyesight. Hypoglycemia (not enough glucose in the blood) can occur from a missed meal, too much exercise, or from consuming to too much insulin. Hypoglycemia can cause hunger, dizziness, confusion, palpitations, and numbness or tingling of the lips. If not treated, one may have double vision, begin trembling, become disoriented, and can lapse into a coma.
Supplements to use in order to protect the cells and balance blood sugar:
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This is an antioxidant that can help control blood sugar levels and can help prevent or repair peripheral nerve damage.
- Vitamin B complex (50) twice a day. B vitamins work together to support the adrenal glands, balance blood sugar levels, helps insulin’s ability to move into the cells, improves glucose metabolism and protects the nerves.
- Liquid trace minerals. Deficiency of many minerals, including zinc, manganese, magnesium and chromium, have been associated with diabetes.
- Extra chromium (200 mcg). Chromium improves insulin’s efficiency, and thus lowers blood sugar levels.
- Extra magnesium (use a calcium/magnesium supplement 2:1 ratio 500/250 mg before bed). Magnesium protects the arteries and helps improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels.
- Gymnema sylvestre. This ayurvedic herb reduces sugar cravings and also helps stimulate the production of insulin, thus balancing blood sugar levels.
- Coenzyme Q10. This improves circulation, stabilizes blood sugar, protects the heart and helps to detoxify the body.
- Maitake extract. Maitake can help normalize blood sugar levels.
- Bilberry. Bilberry contains potent antioxidants that protect nerves as well as balancing blood sugar levels.
- Bitter melon. Bitter melon is another ayurvedic remedy that can balance blood sugar levels.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (1,000 mg twice a day). This will protect and prevent against vascular problems, as well as supporting the adrenal glands.
- Vitamin E (400 IU d-alpha-tocopherol). Vitamin E improves circulation and is a potent antioxidant.
- Vitamin A and vitmain D should be taken daily as well.
- 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed flax oil daily (make sure you purchase flax oil in the refrigerated section. Any exposure to heat, light or oxygen will destroy these delicate fat molecules).
It is important to eat 5-6 small meals a day. These meals should be a good mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates and good quality fats. You should consume 7 servings of fresh vegetables per day. It is very important to avoid sugar, refined foods, trans-fats and excessive saturated fats. Example: Breakfast may include a piece of sprouted grain toast with an organic free-range egg. Morning snack could include an apple with raw almond butter. Lunch could include a large leafy green salad, loaded with black beans, sesame seeds and avocado. An afternoon snack could include a hemp protein smoothie with berries, spinach leaves and greens. Dinner could include brown rice, wild Alaskan salmon, steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Eat plenty of raw garlic and cinnamon for their blood sugar lowering effects.