Keeping Type 2 Diabetes Under Control – Naturally
Type 2 diabetes if not controlled can lead to vision loss, kidney disease, nerve damage, circulation problems, amputation of feet or legs, and even death. Astoundingly, it is mostly preventable and largely controllable for most people.
The Mechanics of Type 2 Diabetes
Cells get their energy from glucose, a simple sugar. Digestion breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which then flows into the bloodstream. When blood sugar rises, the pancreas is signaled to make and release insulin.
Insulin is a hormone messenger that tells cells to "open up" and take in some glucose. If there is no insulin, sugar remains in the bloodstream making it impossible for the cells that need the glucose to get it. The pancreas is the organ that produces and regulates insulin.
When cells don't respond to insulin's signal to absorb glucose, the pancreas responds by continually producing additional insulin to try to get cells to take in the blood sugar. This process continues until the cells that make insulin become exhausted and fail, causing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes impacts nearly every bodily system including sleep, weight control, vision, digestion, and energy. While it is preventable for most people, certain factors may lead to developing it, including:
- Excessive weight or obesity
- High levels of inflammation
- Family history of diabetes
- Diet high in carbohydrates and sugar
- High blood pressure
- Hormonal conditions such as hyperthyroidism or Cushing's syndrome
- Some medication that interrupts insulin production
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can include:
- Increased thirstiness
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
Controlling or Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is typically not controlled with insulin though it may be used in a few cases. The standard treatment for it includes lifestyle changes. There are also specific herbs that been shown to prevent or help control it.
Healthy eating does not just pertain to eating healthy foods, it also includes foods that should either be consumed in small quantities or avoided, such as:
- Simple or refined sugars and carbohydrates. White, confectionary, brown sugar, fructose, corn syrup, honey, etc. all spike glucose levels in the blood almost immediately.
- Cow's milk contains carbohydrates and can impact blood sugar.
- Saturated fats increase heart disease which is a risk for those with diabetes or genetically predisposed to it. Processed meats like bologna, bacon, hot dogs, ground beef, butter, cream, etc. are high in saturated fats.
- Trans fats are made through a process called hydrogenation; it's when liquid oil is formed into a solid fat. Shortening, margarine, and some snack foods like crackers, chips, and others may contain trans fats. You need to read the labels on snack foods.
- Alcohol, when consumed in high amounts, increases the rate of diabetes by 43 percent the Annals of Internal Medicine found. High consumption of alcohol is considered three or more drinks a day. However, alcohol in general raises glucose level, especially those high in carbohydrates like beer.
These types of foods are considered beneficial for controlling and preventing type 2 diabetes:
- Vegetables that are not starchy like, dark green leafy vegetables, onions, broccoli, green beans, etc. can be consumed regularly. Eat starchy vegetables in moderation.
- Whole grains that are close to their natural state such as chia seeds, quinoa, brown rice, steel-cut oats, millet, etc. are better than those that are refined.
- Fish and pasture-raised poultry are healthy proteins unlike factory-farmed meats that can contain additional hormones and antibiotics.
- High fiber foods such as apples, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, beans, and artichokes can help protect against diabetes.
- Fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids are essential for insulin function and helps prevent insulin resistance.
- Magnesium according to several studies helps regulate blood sugar levels. Researchers estimate that 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium.
- Fenugreek has also been found in studies to prevent type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin levels that reduce blood sugar.
- Ginger research showed lowered blood sugar levels but not insulin levels suggesting it may help prevent insulin resistance.
- Cinnamon is said to lower blood sugar and improve insulin response. Cinnamon has also been shown to help increase "healthy" HDL cholesterol levels.
- Bitter melons contain biochemicals that acts like insulin several studies suggest. Bitter melon grows in subtropical and tropical areas of the world. It is available as fresh fruit or in supplemental forms, such as capsules or powders.
Besides a healthy diet, the other major contributing factor in controlling or preventing type 2 diabetes is exercise. Not only does exercise improve glucose levels, it can help prevent the disease.
Preventing and controlling diabetes requires doing some exercise daily. It doesn't need to be full-blown workouts every day. Combine several days of aerobic workouts and resistance training for 20 – 40 minutes with other days of walking or practicing yoga for 20 to 30 minutes.
The critical thing to remember about type 2 diabetes is that for most people it is preventable. It is also usually reversible or at least controllable. Preventing or controlling it, takes a commitment to incorporate a healthy lifestyle that includes eating fresh foods like vegetables and fruit, using herbs in cooking, and exercising.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or heal any medical condition. Always check with your doctor.
Barhum, Lana. How does bitter melon affect blood sugar levels? (June 1, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317724.php
Fats. Retrieved from http://diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/fats-and-diabetes.html
Johnson, Jon. Reviewed by Wilson, Debra Rose, Ph.D., MSN, RN. Seven herbs and supplements for type 2 diabetes (April 21, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317051.php
Low Magnesium May Play Key Role in Insulin Resistance and Diabetes (May 10, 2014). Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/10/magnesium-type-2-diabetes.aspx
Simple Step to Preventing Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/
[i] Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Simple Step to Preventing Diabetes. Web.
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