Diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans, with more than 90% of that figure having type-2, or non-insulin dependent, diabetes. Diabetes is, at its most basic, a sugar imbalance in the blood stream. Natural sugars, in the form of glucose, provide energy to the body’s cells. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, controls blood-glucose levels, and regulates the absorption of glucose into the body’s cells. In patients with type-2 diabetes, either the pancreas is failing to produce the necessary levels of insulin, or their body’s cells have become resistant to the absorption of insulin itself. This results in a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream, which can lead to blindness, heart disease and kidney disease.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Type-2 Diabetes
It is estimated that as many as 70 million Americans are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Common risk factors are a combination of heredity and lifestyle choices. People with a family history of diabetes appear to be at higher risk that others, while people of certain ethnic backgrounds, such as African-Americans, Asians and Hispanic-Americans, also seem to be more prone to developing the disease. Lifestyle and general health also play a large part in the development of type-2 diabetes. People who are overweight, and who suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, tend to be at a greater risk. The chances of developing type-2 diabetes also increases with age, and people over 45 should make it a point to have regular blood screenings.
The most common symptoms of type-2 diabetes are increased thirst and hunger, unexplained weight loss, dry mouth, frequent urination and fatigue. Diabetes can also present itself in instances of blurred vision, and chronic headaches. Diabetes is a serious, and often life threatening condition. People experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to see a doctor or clinician for testing.
Managing Your Diabetes Through Diet
A healthy diet is important for everyone, but especially for those with type-2 diabetes. People at risk for diabetes can also avoid the disease by adopting sound nutritional habits. It is always better to control the body’s blood-glucose levels naturally, through nutrition, rather than with drugs. Eating the proper amount, and type, of carbohydrates is at the root of any diabetic’s diet. Complex carbohydrates, found in vegetables, nuts and seeds, are the best choice for a diabetic diet. Complex carbohydrates are chemically bonded simple sugars, and are absorbed and processed by the body more slowly than simple carbohydrates. This allows for a slow and steady release of energy to the cells within the body.
Fiber is also important in a well-rounded diabetic diet. Fiber helps to delay sugar absorption, making it easier for the body to control its blood-glucose levels. Fiber also promotes weight loss, is a good source of vitamins and nutrients, and helps to reduce the levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Foods rich in fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables.
Limiting fats in a diabetic diet is also vital. Fats, particularly saturated fats, increase the potential for heart disease. Patients with type-2 diabetes are already at risk for heart disease, and it is vital to keep that risk as low as possible. Consuming a no animal fat diet is the most beneficial for improving a person’s health. Plant source fats are the most health promoting.
Minerals and Supplements for Type-2 Diabetes
In addition to dietary changes, patients with type-2 diabetes should consider adding specific minerals and herbal supplements to their daily routines. Chromium plays a vital role in the production and storage of insulin within the body, and people with type-2 diabetes tend to suffer from low levels of this necessary mineral. Magnesium helps the body regulate blood sugar levels, and also promotes healthy heart and nerve function. Both chromium and magnesium can be taken as nutritional supplements, but patients should work with their holistic clinician to formulate an acceptable dosage. Herbal supplements, such as cinnamon, fenugreek and gymnema, have also been shown to improve blood-glucose control in patients with type-2 diabetes.
Patients with type-2 diabetes face many challenges to their health. With the help of holistic clinicians, patients with type-2 diabetes can learn to manage the condition naturally, minimizing the need for long term drug therapies. Patients with type-2 diabetes should keep in close contact with their clinicians and should regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. Diabetes can have devastating effects on the body, but with sensible, and all natural, therapies, patients can maintain a long and healthy life.