Type-2 Diabetes Defense
by Mark J Kaylor
Somewhere back in my college days, I remember a professor saying that some anthropologists had theorized that each culture develops diseases that are particular to and specific for that community. I don’t know if this is actually true or not, but if you look at the relationship between diabetes, and its related conditions, and our modern culture it certainly seems to be a perfect example of this theory.
Clearly, diabetes is very much a sign, or symptom, of our times and the way we live. On top of this diabetic epidemic we have an even greater range of disorders and imbalances, from cardiovascular disease to cancer and even aging, that arise out of a related condition known as insulin resistance. (Note: Many practitioners and researchers are beginning to refer to diabetes as late- or end-stage insulin resistance.)
Simply put, insulin resistance occurs when cells throughout the body lose their sensitivity to insulin primarily due to the constant bombardment that results from our incessant consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates. This results in chronic high blood sugar that in turn causes the pancreas to produce more insulin, thereby further decreasing the cell’s responsiveness to insulin.
Thus a cycle is created where an imbalance creates another imbalance creating another imbalance and on and on, round and round. When there is a chronic high blood sugar level and insufficient insulin production this is called type-2 diabetes; when high blood sugar exists with chronic high insulin levels, this is called metabolic syndrome.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. In a study comparing benefits of diabetic drugs to lifestyle modifications in pre-diabetic patients, the lifestyle group, after almost 3 years, showed almost twice the benefits of the drug group.
It’s All About the Food
The most difficult element to swallow (pun intended) about diabetes is that, for the vast majority, it is very preventable and often readily treatable with the appropriate changes to our lifestyle and diet. An unhealthy diabetic diet is simply too much and too many of the wrong foods with not enough of the right foods and nutrients. Did you know that if you eat the Standard American Diet (aptly referred to as SAD) you are almost 50% more likely to be either pre-diabetic or full-blown diabetic? This deserves repeating one more time, 50% more likely!
So what is a healthy diet? Having counseled thousands of individuals over the last 30 years it is my opinion that when it comes down to it, each one of us knows, fundamentally, what we should and shouldn’t be eating. The two most important points are: one, eat whole foods, especially vegetables; and two, eliminate processed sugars and refined carbohydrates. I am convinced that if we all followed these two simple guidelines then the incidences of most
chronic diseases, including diabetes, would dramatically decrease.
Some dietary No-no’s include: eliminating the soda (even diet), high fructose corn syrup and fried foods; limit Omega 6 consumption while increasing Omega 3’s; avoid MSG, which according to Russell Blaylock can lead to over stimulation of insulin producing beta cells; and restrict your intake of saturated fats.
Other dietary suggestions include: eat regular meals, consume some proteins at every meal; if you eat red meat, make sure it is grass fed; and don’t forget to take your time and enjoy your meals. Some foods of particular value for diabetics to include in their diet are legumes, berries (in reasonable amounts), nuts, olives, onions, garlic and both kinds of artichokes. And if you are a “numbers” person try to eat low on the Glycemic Load scale. (You can find many
GL food listings on the Internet.)
The other side of the coin to restricting carbohydrates/sugars is eating a high fiber diet. When it comes to blood sugar issues, enough cannot be said about fiber consumption; the benefits include slowing blood sugar rise, cardiovascular benefits, reducing appetite and helping remove excess by iron that could damage pancreatic cells. A recent fiber was developed, called PGX that does all these things, only better. Research has shown that PGX normalizes blood sugar and insulin, prolongs satiety and increases cellular sensitivity more effectively than traditional fibers.
Stress & Exercise
The advice no one wants to hear is that exercise is an essential element in maintaining or re-establishing healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. Physical activity directly impacts sugar metabolism, increases insulin sensitivity and contributes to cardiovascular health all of which have been confirmed in numerous studies.
Stress is a major player in virtually every chronic disease and the same goes for diabetes. Several reports have shown that it is much more difficult to balance sugar and insulin levels when under higher levels of stress.
Further evidence also suggests that chronically high stress levels are linked to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes. We also know that the stress hormone, cortisol, raises blood sugar levels and when blood sugar is too low the body secretes more cortisol in order to raise blood sugar levels. Two of my favorite anti-stress remedies are exercise and a tonic herb from India, Ashwaganda. This remedy is known as an adaptogen, so named because it helps the body to adapt, especially to stressful situations. Ashwaganda may help balance blood sugar, increase energy and boost immune functioning as well.
While dietary and lifestyle changes are the most important and effective elements in preventing and reversing diabetes there are several supplements that may assist in this process. Make sure you are getting enough of these in your diet and/or through supplementation. The number one supplement is probably chromium: it improves insulin receptor function, facilitates sugars uptake into cells, and plays a major role in insulin’s action.
In addition, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B complex, manganese, and omega-3 fats with high DHA and added GLA are vital nutrients to maintaining healthy balance, nursing and protecting the body, reducing diabetic related disorders, and helping the body operate at its optimal level. Several critical antioxidants, alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, Turmeric and Green tea, have an array of benefits going beyond protecting the body from the free radicals arising from high blood sugar and helping to curb insulin resistance.
A new kid on the block in helping to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels is a recently discovered component of the Maitake mushroom called SX fraction. Laboratory and clinical studies confirm the efficacy of SX fraction’s use with diabetics and an even more recent study on polycystic ovary syndrome. Evidence that SX fraction is helping to overcome insulin resistance is seen in its cardiovascular benefits: lowering total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, blood pressure, HbA1c, and raising HDL with moderate weight loss.
Please remember, supplements are just that, supplements. They are not meant to take the place of dietary and lifestyle changes, nor are they here to allow us to “cheat” more. These supplements are best used to enhance and complement the changes.
Be the Change
Ironically, even though type 2 diabetes is very treatable, this epidemic shows no sign of letting up. One in three Americans born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
Fat may also soon become the norm, and sooner than you think. A report out of John Hopkins University predicts by 2015, 75% of US adults will be overweight and 41% will be obese. And “adult-onset diabetes,” as type-2 was once known, is now occurring in younger and younger adolescents. This is not the legacy that our children and our grandchildren deserve.
Interestingly, the diet, lifestyle and supplement suggestions for preventing or reversing diabetes are, in general, great guidelines for maximizing our own health and vitality regardless of whether or not we have diabetic issues. So what if we decided, each and every one of us, to make the changes and live the lifestyle and diet, making ourselves a positive example of radiant health. Don’t we owe it to our children? Don’t we owe it to ourselves?
Mark J. Kaylor has been exploring holistic health and healing for close to four decades. He is the founder and director of the not-for-profit Radiant Health Project. Mark welcomes you comments and questions and can be contacted at his website: www.RadiantHealthProject.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/RadiantHealthProject