According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 2020, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes, which is nearly 11% of the U.S. population. Every 17 seconds, an American is diagnosed with diabetes.
The most common form of diabetes is Type 2, which means that your body doesn’t use insulin properly. It is a chronic medical condition in which the levels of sugar, or glucose, build up in your bloodstream and your body becomes resistant to insulin. This forces your pancreas to work harder to make more insulin, which over time damages your pancreas and insulin production ceases.
Decades ago, researchers identified higher levels of inflammation in the bodies of people with type 2 diabetes. The levels of certain inflammatory chemicals called cytokines are often higher in people with type 2 diabetes compared to people without diabetes.
Diets high in refined carbohydrates (starches & sugars) and lack of exercise leads to Insulin resistance in which the body produces insulin but the cells are not able use it effectively. When muscle, fat and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin, they cannot easily absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream, and the blood sugars elevate.
This causes your body to rely on alternative energy sources in your tissues, muscles, and organs. This is a chain reaction that can cause a variety of symptoms including, hunger and excessive sugar cravings, a lack of energy, mental and physical fatigue, excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands or feet.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and can cause some potentially dangerous complications including diabetic retinopathy and other eye diseases, damage to the nerves such as neuropathy, kidney disease, gum disease, vascular disease and heart attack or stroke.
According to a study published in the April 2014 medical journal “Radiology”, suggests that chronic high levels of insulin and sugar may be directly toxic to brain cells.
Dr. Nick Bryan, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perleman School of Medicine states “There may be two ways diabetes affects the brain, damage to blood vessels and brain-cell degeneration. For every 10 years someone had diabetes, it looked as if the brain was about two years older than the brain of someone without diabetes.”
The researchers found that the longer a patient had type 2 diabetes, the more brain volume loss occurred, particularly in the gray matter. Gray matter includes areas of the brain involved in muscle control, seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self-control.
Several medications have side effects which include the raising of blood glucose levels and developing a form of secondary diabetes. These include Steroids, Thiazide diuretics, Beta-blockers, Antipsychotics and Statins.
Helping people with diabetes is not just about taking a prescription pill. Most patients I see for diabetes have a blood sugar level significantly above normal and their doctors are happy with it and their health problems continue to escalate. If you really want to decrease your factors for developing the health issues associate with Type 2 diabetes (including dementia), you need to pull together at the same time all the factors influencing sugar metabolism.
Diet: Eating a low sugar, low carbohydrate diet and making sure to get protein with each meal is essential to improving sugar metabolism. No white flour products, no sweet foods including fruit juice, sweet fruits, dried fruits, alcohol, and no skipping meals. Keep starches (including whole grain) low at meal time particularly at dinner. Eat protein with every meal and eat lots of fresh vegetables (cooked or raw).
Daily Exercise: is another key component that helps pull sugar into the muscles for energy and sadly its importance is often not stressed by doctors and therefore neglected as treatment by diabetic patients. Actually, it is better to exercise 15-20 minutes or more twice a day for diabetics, than ½ hour or hour 1 x day.
There are many we utilize safely with our patients with diabetes who are on medication, that help the body metabolize sugars and improve insulin resistance.
Berberine is a bioactive compound found in various plants, which several studies among people with type 2 diabetes have shown that taking 600–2,700 mg of berberine daily may lower fasting and long-term blood sugar levels by up to 20% and 12%, respectively, especially when taken alongside blood sugar medication. Berberine has a half-life of several hours, so it doesn’t last in your system for too long and therefore should be taken 2-3 x day with meals.
Chromium : Several studies have indicated that taking chromium supplements can improve blood sugar for those with diabetes. One study found that 16 weeks of 200 μg/day of chromium was able to lower blood sugar and insulin while improving the body’s response to insulin.
Cinnamon : Studies have linked cinnamon to better blood sugar levels. Some of this work shows it may curb blood sugar by lowering insulin resistance.
In one study, volunteers ate from 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon for 40 days. (One gram of ground cinnamon is about half a teaspoon.) The researchers found that cinnamon cut cholesterol by about 18% and blood sugar levels by 24%.
Kyolic® Blood Sugar Balance is a synergistic combination of Aged Garlic Extract™, made from organically grown garlic from California, Salacia, Bitter Melon, Chromium Picolinate, and Niacin. This unique combination of ingredients naturally supports healthy blood sugar balance and weight control, as well as cardiovascular and immune health, for overall well-being.
As sugars come down doctors are able to reduce blood sugar medication(s). Make sure to check your sugars daily and keep a log.
Take your blood sugar levels seriously! With glucose monitoring kit the Normal range is between 80 and 100 fasting. Most Type 2 diabetics feel comfortable at a range of 90 -95. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes.
The bottom line is if you don’t take diabetes seriously it will eat away, “like termites”, at all your organs including your brain.
As always it is best to seek professional advice about your specific health concerns and what is the best natural health program for you. Telephone and In-Office appointments are available with Holistic Practitioners at the Tree of Life Wellness Center. Call 508-336-4242 for more information.
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner
Host Holistic Healthline Radio