Diabetes Mellitus – Blood Sugar Balancing Act-
Diabetes Mellitus is an all too common complex disorder of carbohydrate metabolism. Characterised by hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels) and glycosuria (sugar in the urine), it results from inadequate production of insulin. The direct cause is failure of beta cells in the pancreas to secrete an adequate amount of insulin (type 1); or a desensitization of the body’s cells to insulin i.e. they become insulin resistant (type 2).
As fore mentioned, there are two types of diabetes mellitus- insulin dependent type 1 also known as juvenile diabetes (approximately 5-10% of diabetics), whereby the sufferer is either born with a lack of beta cells or they are destroyed by a virus, autoimmune disease or drugs. The second more common form of diabetes is type 2 late-onset diabetes, (adult onset diabetes) caused by either a deficiency in the production of insulin or more commonly by unresponsiveness from the cells to the insulin that is being produced i.e. they don’t recognize them. 90% of late-onset diabetics are obese as being overweight seems to desensitize the individual to insulin levels.
Signs & Symptoms of diabetes include excessive urination and thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, increase in appetite, weight loss despite eating, poor healing and frequent infections especially fungal infections. The long term effects of diabetes are very serious including heart attacks, kidney failure, hypertension strokes, blindness (diabetic retinopathy) and many neurological problems such as nerve damage and coma. The complications of this disorder are astronomical.
From a Naturopathic point of view prevention is always preferable to cure, however clinical trials have shown that it is possible to reverse the effects of diabetes with great success especially in treating late onset diabetes type 2. Precipitating factors to diabetes include emotional stress or trauma as adrenalin greatly increases blood sugar levels; obesity (type 2); high simple sugar diets such as junk food, fizzy drinks (including diet drinks), and chocolate snacks; high fat diet; alcohol abuse; a sedentary lifestyle; viral infections; food intolerances and acid/alkaline imbalances.
Modern medical treatment methods include insulin injections, low sugar diets, regular meals and for type 2, weight loss. Research has shown a major link between obesity and the unresponsiveness to insulin in beta cells for type 2 diabetics. Some causative factors prevalent in last-onset diabetes include excessive sugar consumption and/or nutritional deficiencies, especially chromium, magnesium, vanadium, vitamins C and E.
Sugar consumption causes increased chromium losses through urine. The problem with most manufactured consumer foods these days are the high levels of hidden sugars as is the case with refined products such as wheat especially white flour. Magnesium deficiency is common in diabetics as it reduces tissue sensitivity to insulin resulting in insulin resistance. Studies have shown that chromium, magnesium and vitamin E deficiencies are directly related to diabetes and must be incorporated along with a healthy diet to maintain and in some cases reverse diabetes.
With these in mind a nutritional point of view would suggest an alkalising diet rich in wholesome natural foods such as nuts, seeds, vegetables and whole grains high in fibre and complex carbohydrates; eliminate quick sugar releasing foods such as potatoes, figs, dates, grapes, fruit juices; also eliminating sugar, junk food, smoked foods, all cow’s milk products, vegetable oils, caffeine and alcohol from the diet; supplementing with chromium, amino acids, vitamins B, C and E, and magnesium; and incorporating rich sources of antioxidants and exercise into the daily routine.
As is the case with all nutritional and dietary disorders, a fine blood sugar balance through natural nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is the key to health. However with such serious complications in a disorder like diabetes, professional supervision by a qualified doctor or naturopathic nutrition consultant is key to getting this fine balance right.
‘Your health is in your hands!’
©Article written by Caroline Evans