Stacey Munro, ND, is a naturopathic physician and owner of Nature's Helper Medical Clinic in Windsor, Connecticut. She specializes in the natural treatment of chronic conditions, including Type II diabetes and pre-diabetes.
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Type II diabetes is an acquired condition where the body loses the ability to properly regulate blood glucose. Untreated diabetes results in organ damage, cardiovascular disease, stroke and limb amputations. The good news is, in many cases, pre-diabetes, insulin-resistance and Type II diabetes can be reversed with the right kind of diet and exercise.
Food we eat is converted to glucose, which our cells use for energy. Excess glucose is stored as fat. Insulin is a hormone that is released in response to ingestion of glucose, and acts as a shuttle for glucose to our cells. When we eat food that is rapidly converted to glucose, as in the case of processed foods and sugar, our bodies release more insulin. Over time, rapid releases of insulin cause the body to require more insulin to shuttle glucose into the cells. This is called insulin-resistance or pre-diabetes.
Type II diabetes typically starts as insulin-resistance, a condition where an individual’s blood sugar gradually increases until he or she develops diabetes. At least 7 percent of the population age 20 or younger and 26 percent of adults who are age 20 or older have pre-diabetes.1
Type II diabetes, previously called adult-onset diabetes, accounts for 90-95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. As of 2007, an estimated 23.6 million or 7.8 percent of the population had diabetes. Approximately 5.7 million of these people were undiagnosed. Obesity is the number one risk factor for developing Type II diabetes; more than 30 percent of Americans are obese. Other risk factors include gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, and a family history of diabetes.
The good news is, in many cases, pre-diabetes, insulin-resistance and Type II diabetes can be reversed with the right kind of diet and exercise.
Treating Diabetes Naturally
Stop the white stuff. White or processed grains and sugars cause rapid increases in blood sugar and insulin, contributing to weight gain and insulin-resistance. Eliminate white bread, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes and white sugar. Eating whole, unprocessed grains in moderation is a better choice.
Read your labels. Soda, bottled juice or tea, energy drinks and processed foods contain huge amounts of sugar, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is especially dangerous because it does not stimulate hormones that control appetite and the feeling of satiety. Even if you are full, your brain does not get the signal to stop eating or drinking.
Get off the couch. Exercise improves insulin-resistance and helps to maintain proper weight. The 2008 Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for exercise include a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise weekly, in addition to two to three days of strength training. Getting five hours of moderate intensity exercise weekly has additional cardiovascular benefits. Please consult your physician before starting an exercise program if you have been previously inactive.
Correct mineral deficiencies. Studies have shown that many Type II diabetics are deficient in minerals such as chromium and magnesium. Food sources of minerals include leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, chard, bok choy and collard greens. Other sources include whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
Increase fiber. Foods high in fiber slow the release of glucose from food. Choosing foods high in fiber, such as whole fruit, vegetables and beans slows down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Type II diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Many cases go undiagnosed until significant organ damage has occurred. Naturopathic physicians have many safe and effective treatments to prevent or reverse Type II diabetes and pre-diabetes. The bottom line is that dietary and lifestyle habits must change in order to control blood sugar naturally. These are lifelong changes that will provide health benefits for years to come.