Indianapolis Edition

Preventing, Reversing and Managing Diabetes Naturally

Attending to the miracle of our body’s metabolism—the processes it uses to digest food for growth and energy—is critical to good health. Diabetes, a metabolic disorder, is a serious threat to these processes as well as for any hope of anti-aging and longevity.

Types of Diabetes There are four types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). In Type 1 (not caused by eating or lifestyle habits), the immune system destroys the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Type 2, caused by lifestyle and eating habits, is a metabolic disorder that results in the cells inability to use insulin. Healthy lifestyle changes and better eating habits, if made when symptoms are first identified, are known to reverse Type 2.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, while the body is struggling to use the insulin it produces. Although it typically disappears afterwards, women who had it are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. LADA is autoimmune form of diabetes in which the death of the beta cells occurs over a span of years rather than rapidly.

The American Diabetes Association advises that 8.1 million of the 29.1 individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes were previously unaware and had not detected the earliest symptoms.

Early Symptoms

Telltale signs of diabetes are dry mouth, excessive thirst and frequent urination, being hungry all the time (even after meals), unusual weight gain or loss, and lack of energy. Symptoms occur quickly and are easily identified in children and Type I diabetics. Type 2 diabetics experience these same signs but since it can take years to develop full-blown diabetes, they are subtler,” says Lauren Montieth, a doctor of chiropractic and owner of Center for Functional Medicine, a holistic wellness center in Indianapolis.

“Fatigue shortly after eating a meal can also be an indicator of pre-diabetes and diabetes. Managing the extra blood sugar level from the food you eat causes an inflammatory response and requires quite an expenditure of energy. Excess sugar in the blood for long periods of time can cause the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, and vision problems, as well as the numbness, tingling, and pain of neuropathy in hands and feet,” advises Montieth.

Blood Sugar (Glucose) Levels

Normal blood glucose levels vary throughout the day. For healthy individuals a fasting blood sugar level on awakening is less than 100 milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dl) of blood. Before meals, normal levels are between 70- 99 mg/dl.

Individuals who have developed early stages of insulin resistance will not always experience high blood glucose levels, but without medical intervention those with Type 1 diabetes will experience extremely high glucose levels. Fasting glucose levels should vary between 100-125. A fasting glucose level above 126 is an indicator that lifestyle changes are needed to avoid progression into full Type 2 diabetes.

High-Risk Groups

Pamela Reilly, naturopathic physician, health educator and founder of Good Works Research, LLC in Indianapolis cites two high-risk groups for Type 2 diabetes: individuals who consume large amounts of simple carbohydrates and sugars, and those with a sedentary lifestyle that includes unhealthy processed foods.

Early warning signs of insulin resistance may include fatigue, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, weight gain or inability to lose weight. Another early indicator of insulin resistance is high blood levels of insulin while fasting. Reilly recommends that anyone with early warning signs should request the best measure of insulin resistance, a fasting insulin test.

Fluctuating Blood Sugar

“Rollercoaster sugar levels are irritating to the nerves and weaken the lining of blood vessels. They contribute to neuropathies in the legs and can destroy blood vessels behind the eyes, which can lead to retinopathy. Fluctuations raise triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) that circulates in the blood along with cholesterol. Triglycerides are an important measure of heart health,” advises Reilly.

Montieth and Reilly agree that an awareness of risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes, along with the knowledge of the early warning signs, is important in early detection. According to Reilly, with this knowledge and working with an expert, individuals can take the necessary steps to restore metabolic balance and prevent full-blown Type 2 diabetes.

Making the most impactful choices is critical in the earliest stages. Montieth and Reilly educate patients and help them integrate dietary changes. Both agree that patient education must include the importance of eating low glycemic index foods and reducing blood glucose levels as well as the necessity for increasing quality protein and healthy fats (such as nuts, avocado and olive oil), to help stabilize blood sugar levels during meals. Antioxidant fiber-rich plant foods are another critical component of an effective dietary plan.

Both doctors are alarmed at the nationwide epidemic of obesity and diabetes as well as the increased number of teenagers presenting with pre-diabetes and diabetes.

The Role of Exercise

Patient education should include the role of exercise in reversing pre-diabetes and managing diabetes for individuals who have been diagnosed. Exercise increases the muscle cell’s demand for glucose, moving it out of the blood and into muscle cells. Reilly explains, “Aerobic exercise is known to improve insulin sensitivity for up to eight hours, while resistance and weight training has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity for up to 72 hours.”

Control and Reversal

There is no quick fix for preventing and reversing diabetes. Restoration of health begins with the most important health lifestyle changes—replacing processed and sugary foods with nutrient dense whole foods, eating some protein at every meal, performing a form of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training at least three to five times a week, and adding stress-relieving practices such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong to daily routines.

Health professionals prefer to recommend herbs and supplements for managing or preventing diabetes on an individual basis.

New Beginnings Family Wellness Center, 11900-5 Kelso Dr., Zionsville; 4375 Georgetown Rd., Indianapolis. Call 317-617-3542 or visit WeCreateWellness.com.

Good Works Wellness Research, LLC, 1111 E. 54th St., Ste. 107, Indianapolis. Call 317-489-0909 or visit GoodWorksWellness.com.

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