A Pillar of Optimal Health: Blood Sugar Control
4/21/2015
Robert Kachko, ND, LAc
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
by: Robert Kachko, ND, LAc

Section: Diabetes

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About Dr. Robert Kachko

Robert Kachko, ND, LAc is a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist at InnerSource Health in New York City. He proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and takes an active role in the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NYANP). He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Doctoral Degree in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters Degree in Acupuncture from the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture Institute. He has completed an additional 2 year course of study in Classical Homeopathy at the New England School of Homeopathy. He completed his pre-medical studies with a Bachelor's Degree with honors at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Dr. Kachko believes in the importance of expanding access to Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture for all patients. At the College of Naturopathic Medicine, he was founding President of the expanded local chapter of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) and received the prestigious award for Outstanding Service to the Profession.

To learn more about Dr. Kachko, please visit him on Facebook and www.innersourcehealth.com/Robert-Kachko.
As a result of the standard American diet, more and more individuals are being diagnosed with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions which are intimately related to how well our bodies handle carbohydrates and sugar from the food we eat. These “lifestyle” based diseases are largely preventable with a properly understood and sustainable approach to health which honors the unique physiology and biochemistry of each individual. The naturopathic approach to medicine addresses the needs of the body along all of these important lifestyle parameters through diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction and emotional health, and gastrointestinal health just to name a few. While it becomes difficult to embrace the treasures of life when we are sick, the good news is that we have the power to reduce our chances of acquiring these “lifestyle diseases”. Once we adjust our choices to be more health promoting, it becomes far easier to build a long, healthy life with ample opportunity for joy and self-fulfillment.
 
Below are a few practical tips which may be useful to you on your journey toward optimal wellness.
 
Note: If you are diabetic and/or taking medications, make sure to inform your doctor before beginning any of these recommendations. It may be necessary to alter your medication with time.
  1. Diet Recommendations
    There are many theories about the optimal diet for proper blood sugar control. Some of these are based on reliable science, whereas others are nothing more than soon-to-pass dietary “fads.” There are, however, several important guidelines to consider across the board.
    • Low Glycemic Diet: Food which is naturally high in fiber and protein is better for those with blood sugar control issues because it reduces the all-important spikes in sugar after meals. This is evaluated based on the “Glycemic Index” (GI) of food, and the lower the GI the better. Low GI foods (preferred) are considered those below 55, medium 55-69, and high 70+. You can find a comprehensive Glycemic Index rating list on the internet from organizations such as the American Diabetes Association1
    • Fiber Intake: Eating foods high in fiber is an important factor in regulating blood sugar. With a total fiber target of 35 g/day, good sources of the important water-soluble fiber are legumes, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium seed husks, pears, apples, and most vegetables2
    • Additional Dietary Interventions: The following can help with your blood sugar and cholesterol:
      1. Green tea: Aim for 2-3 cups of organic green tea per day. If you are sensitive to caffeine, look for naturally decaffeinated varieties3
      2. Garlic: Add it to your cooking as much as possible. It adds great flavor, supports your immune system and heart, and helps those with diabetes
      3. Cinnamon: Add to sweet dishes to improve how your body handles carbs4
  2. Exercise
    Ask your Doctor if exercise is safe for you. If so, it can help to improve your blood sugar levels and to make your medications more effective. Exercise can be expected to reduce HbA1c (a long term blood marker of blood sugar) values by approximately 0.5 to 0.7% in type 2 diabetics. The combination of aerobic exercise plus resistance training provides the largest benefit, and structured exercise of more than 150 minutes per week (0.89% reduction in HbA1c) is associated with greater reductions than that of less than 150 minutes per week (0.36% reduction in HbA1c).5
  3. Lifestyle Recommendations
    • Sleep: Restful sleep is necessary for ideal blood sugar levels. A study of 2134 men and women with type 2 diabetes found that those subjects who slept 7h/day had the lowest HbA1c levels.6 If you are not sleeping well,speak with your naturopath about tips to improve your sleep
    • Stress Reduction: Stress plays a strong role in increasing your blood sugar levels, so anything you can do to reduce stress will be helpful. A small but statistically significant study showed reductions in blood sugar from combination therapy with transcendental meditation, acupressure, and hypnotherapy compared to placebo in type 2 diabetic patients.7 Meditation, journaling, exercise, acupuncture etc. are all useful tools, but it is important to find the best ones for you
  4. Supplement Protocol
    For the majority of people, these nutrients should be obtained through diet alone. In some individuals, it may be necessary to add supplemental amounts to the diet.Note: as all of the recommendations below have been shown to lower blood sugar, careful monitoring is necessary especially for individuals receiving insulin therapy
    • Soluble Fiber: If you don’t get enough fiber from food (see above), consider adding a supplemental form (do not take at the same time as your medications as it interferes with intestinal absorption)
    • Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA): This antioxidant helps to reduce blood sugar levels and some of the complications of diabetes8
    • Chromium: This essential mineral makes your cells more responsive to insulin, which decreases blood sugar levels9
    • Magnesium: This essential mineral is necessary for proper cardiovascular health, immune health, and blood sugar levels among many other things. The amount of magnesium that can be obtained from consuming 1 cup of beans, ¼ cup of nuts, ½ cup of cooked spinach, or 3 bananas (about 100mg per day) has been shown to reduce risk of developing diabetes10
Visit your local naturopathic physician to formulate a comprehensive plan for your needs.


  1. Thomas D, Elliott EJ. Low glycaemic index, or low glycaemic load, diets for diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 1.
  2. Silva FM, Kramer CK, de Almeida JC, et al. Fiber intake and glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Rev. 2013;71(12):790-801.
  3. Consortium TI (2012) Tea consumption and incidence of type 2 diabetes in Europe: the EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study. PLoS One 7: e36910.
  4. Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, et al.  Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Fam Med. 2013;11(5):452-9.
  5. Church TS, Blair SN, Cocreham S, et al. Effects of aerobic and resistance training on hemoglobin A1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2010; 304:2253.
  6. Kim BK, Kim BS, An SY, et al. Sleep duration and glycemic control in patients with diabetes mellitus: Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2010. J Korean Med Sci. 2013;28(9):1334-9.
  7. Bay R, Bay F. Combined therapy using acupressure therapy, hypnotherapy, and transcendental meditation versus placebo in type 2 diabetes. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2011 Sep;4(3):183-6.
  8. Han T, Bai J, Liu W, et al.  A systematic review and meta-analysis of α-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012;167(4):465-71.
  9. Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014;39(3):292-306.
  10. Larsson SC, Wolk A. Magne sium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analy sis. J Intern Med 2007; 262(2):208-214.
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