by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
According to the 2011 Diabetes Fact Sheet, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year while 79 million people have glucose levels in the pre-diabetic range. Diabetes is a disease that affects slightly more men than women with African American men being the most likely to have the disease. In a world of modern medicine, why are so many people living with this chronic metabolic disorder? This article explains adult-onset diabetes and offers you a step-by-step formula for treating it naturally.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by the body’s inability to properly regulate blood glucose levels. There are two main types of diabetes. One is type 1 diabetes, the other is type 2.
Let’s look at them both:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. This type of diabetes is a disease characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin. Other medical terms for this type of diabetes are “juvenile-onset diabetes” or “insulin-dependent diabetes”.
Symptoms of this disease often have a sudden onset and include:
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
- Rapid weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Tingling in hands and feet
Insulin-dependent diabetes requires careful blood sugar monitoring and maintenance. Type 1 diabetics are dependent on taking insult for the rest of their lives. The insulin is usually delivered via an insulin syringe, pen, or pump.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes or adult-onset diabetes accounts for approximately 90% of diabetes cases and will be the primary focus of this article. In this type of diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore or react inappropriately to the insulin. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are very similar to that of type 1 diabetes usually without a rapid onset.
These symptoms include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger (especially after eating)
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Slow wound-healing
- Frequent yeast infections
- Erectile dysfunction
- Itching of the groin
- Feeling of numbness in hands and feet
- Dark patches of skin in the neck, armpit, and groin
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, it’s important to have a fasting blood glucose test to find out if you have adult-onset diabetes. This will help you avoid further health complications. Conventional treatments include glucose monitoring and oral insulin medications.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has four main causes. The good news is, most of these causes are both avoidable and reversible. They are:
- Poor Diet
Diabetes is a disease that tends to correspond closely to poor diet. A diet rich in processed food such as donuts, snack cakes, fast food, microwaveable meals, and sugar-laced sodas can send your insulin sky-rocketing only to send it plummeting back down in a matter of hours. This food has little to no nutritional value and wrecks havoc with your entire metabolic system.
This is especially true for people who use excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners. Think aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and sucralose (Splenda). Unlike natural sugars such as sucrose and fructose, which are slowly absorbed by your body, synthetic sweeteners send your sugar levels soaring and eventually keep them at a body-damaging level.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
You may think since you’re an on-the-go professional that you get the exercise you need. That’s only partly true. Your brain may be getting all the exercise it needs but your body is not. A sedentary lifestyle can create a wide variety of health problems, including adult-onset diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that caters to the couch potato. Getting up and getting active is one of the best (and cheapest) natural disease deterrents known to man!
Adult-onset diabetes and obesity go hand in hand. So if you’re eating sugar-laden processed food and your idea of exercise is a walk to the mailbox, you’re only inviting diabetes into your life. Not everybody is meant to be extremely slender but excess fat around the midsection makes you far more likely to develop diabetes than the more svelte people around you. Look down. See that gut? Get rid of it and your health will improve dramatically!
- High Caloric Intake
Back in our grandparent’s time, plates were smaller and nutritional value was greater. Now, it seems it’s the reverse. Ever-increasing portion sizes encourage us to overeat on a subconscious level and some of the foods we eat are anything but nutritious. High caloric intake is another common cause of obesity and diabetes and it can sneak up on you because you’re just not paying attention to how many calories are in one meal.
Think of it this way; an average person should consume anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day depending on weight, age, lifestyle, and activity level. If you swing by McDonald’s on your lunch break and order a Triple-Thick Shake, you’re drinking 1,060 calories right there and you haven’t even chewed anything!
Not only are you using up more than half of your caloric allotment for the day, you’re not getting the balanced nutrition you need to stay healthy and you’re sending your blood sugar through the roof!
Health Risks Associated with Diabetes
As if being diabetic and dependent on insulin pills wasn’t enough, there are other serious health risks associated with being a diabetic.
These health risks include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
This is what makes managing your adult-onset diabetes through diet, exercise, and supplementation so important. Taking insulin pills can be a quick-fix for symptom control but they will not address the underlying cause of the illness.
In addition, long-term use of insulin-regulating drugs may cause serious side effects that will require the use of yet another medication to combat. That medication may also come with side effects. Before you know it, you’re not just on one prescription drug, but a cocktail of pills that may cost more than your medical insurance will cover.
Monitoring Your Blood Glucose Levels
A1c (also known as HBA1c, or glycohemoglobin) testing is recommended every three months to make sure your glucose levels are well controlled. Non-diabetic (normal) is considered by most labs to be 4-6%. This test measures the glucose which has accumulated in your red blood cells over the past 90 days.
You do not have to be fasting for this test. It is an average, and is not affected by what you ate today or yesterday. This inexpensive test is available from DirectLabs. Although it is recommended every three months, it is included as part of my Comprehensive Test Panel from Direct Labs, as you will want to have your entire chemistry and blood count checked, including kidney and liver function, thyroid, hormones and immune system at least once a year.
How to Reverse Adult Onset Diabetes Naturally
Adult-onset diabetes is reversible. You just have to be willing to make some important dietary and lifestyle changes. If you’re new to watching what you eat, you’re not alone. Most people don’t consider the food they put into their bodies or how many calories they consume. They just know they’re hungry, they see food, and they eat it. It really seems that simple but it isn’t. What you put into your body for fuel will have a profound impact on your health, either positive or negative. This is why it’s important to learn how to use food so you can lose weight, reverse your diabetes, and live a long, healthy life.
- The Whole-Food Diet
First, let’s focus on what you shouldn’t be eating if you’re a diabetic. That being said, if you’re a soda drinker, stop right now. If you use Splenda in your sweet tea, throw it out. Instead, enjoy organic sparkling juices made from real cane sugar and sweeten your tea with all-natural Stevia. Too much of any type of sugar isn’t healthy for you but making more informed choices about the foods you put into your body can mean the difference between suffering from the effects of a controllable disease and feeling your best every day.
Fast food, processed food, and microwavable meals should be consumed very rarely. These foods have little to no nutritional value and a high sugar and sodium content. They also often contain an array of artificial preservatives and additives that make you pack on the pounds and worsen your diabetes symptoms.
Now that you know what you shouldn’t be eating, let’s take a look at what you should. A whole-food diet is less intimidating than it sounds. It’s not a weight-loss plan but a lifestyle change. Whole foods are foods that have not been processed and are eaten in their natural state. These foods include lean meats, poultry, wild-caught fish, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, whole grains, and dairy products such as butter, organic yogurt, and cheese.
It may surprise you to see butter listed on a diet plan as you may believe margarine and other butter substitutes to be good for your health. Unfortunately, they are anything but. Margarine and vegetable oils are nothing but genetically modified, synthetic chemicals designed to mimic the look and taste of healthy fat. Healthy fats consist of butter, olive oil, and coconut oil as well as foods like avocado and walnut. Your body needs these healthy fats to digest food properly and maintain a healthy weight. It’s only when you eat unhealthy fat that you gain weight and increase your risk for diabetes.
In addition to eating a diet rich in whole foods, it’s important to find out if undiagnosed gluten intolerance or a thyroid disorder is causing your obesity and adult-onset diabetes. Gluten intolerant people cannot digest the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. If you have chronic gastrointestinal upset, you may be intolerant to this protein. Only a complete elimination of gluten from your diet will let you know for sure.
Thyroid disease is another common cause of slow metabolism, weight gain, and diabetes. Direct Labs Thyroid Panel (Free T3, Free T4, T7 and TSH). Never rely on a TSH alone, as it can be misleading. This test is also part of my Comprehensive Test Panel from Direct Labs, if you or your doctor request more comprehensive lab testing.
- A Regular Exercise Program
No matter how healthy you eat, you still need to exercise. Keeping your body fit and in shape boosts your immune system and keeps diabetes and other chronic health problems under control. I recommend walking, running, hiking, swimming, bicycling, treadmill walking, or elliptical training at least 3-4 times per week.
For patients with joint conditions, balance problems, and other serious health concerns, talk with your doctor first before beginning a new exercise program. Also, start slowly. The worst thing you can do is get up off the couch after being sedentary for years and act like you’re training for a triathlon. Your enthusiasm is commendable but a walk around the block or a short hike in the woods is best for starters. Listen to your body, warm up first, and take it easy on yourself. Pretty soon, regular exercise will be like second nature to you!
- High-Quality Supplements
No doubt you’ve taken dozens of dietary supplements in your lifetime. Shouldn’t you be as healthy as a horse then? Not necessarily. There is a night and day difference between the “vitamins” you’ll find on the grocery store shelf and the whole-food supplements your body can actually use.
Most commercial vitamins are lab-created synthetic versions of vitamins. They aren’t the real thing so they won’t work the same in your body. Matter of fact, they’ve even been known to cause health problems because of chemical additives.
When you’re ready to really take charge of your health, reach for superior whole-food supplements that will become a real ally in your fight against adult-onset diabetes.
These are the following supplements I recommend to my diabetic patients:
- Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin Formula
The quality, whole-food supplement I suggest for my diabetic patients is our Foundation Vitamin Formula. Without a firm nutritional foundation, you cannot build a healthier you. Foundation contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best. This formula is designed to address all of your nutritional needs in one bottle.
- Vitamin A – 7,500 IU
- Vitamin C – 500 mg
- Vitamin D3 – 500 IU
- Vitamin E – 100 IU
- Vitamin K – 50 mcg
- Thiamine – 25 mg
- Riboflavin – 25 mg
- Niacin – 25 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 38 mg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg
- Biotin – 200 mcg
- Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg
- Calcium – 100 mg
- Iodine – 113 mcg
- Magnesium – 200 mg
- Zinc – 10 mg
- Selenium – 100 mcg
- Copper – 1 mg
- Manganese – 2.5 mg
- Chromium – 200 mcg
- Molybdenum – 25 mcg
- Potassium – 50 mg
- Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg
- Inositol – 50 mg
- Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg
- Lipoic Acid – 25 mg
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
- Rutin – 25 mg
- Lutein – 3 mg
- Boron – 1.5 mg
- Lycopene – 1 mg
- Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg
Diacose is an all-natural diabetic support supplement designed to lower your blood glucose levels and improve the way your body uses insulin. It’s synergistic blend of ingredients work in harmony to get your body back in balance.
These ingredients are:
- Biotin – Often associated with treating brittle hair and nails, biotin supports glycolysis in the liver and pancreas by promoting the enzyme, glucokinase.
- Chromium – Chromium encourages your cells to increase their natural uptake of glucose as it works naturally with your body’s own insulin.
- Gymnema Sylvestre – According to studies, this woody climbing plant native to India and Africa has been shown to not only treat type 2 diabetes but type 1 as well by causing a regeneration of beta cells within the pancreas. Most participants were able to lower their medications, while 25% of study participants were able to come off all of their oral diabetes drugs completely!
- Lipoic Acid – Used successfully for over 30 years in Germany, lipoic acid balances blood sugar and maintains microcirculation on account of its rich antioxidant levels.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon has long been used by natural health enthusiasts to lower blood sugar without the side effects of diabetes drugs. This potent spice not only decreases blood glucose levels but has a positive effect on heart health!
- Vanadyl Sulfate – This compound has a similar function to chromium in that it helps cells actively transport proteins for glucose uptake.
As with any nutritional supplement or exercise regimen, be sure to consult with your doctor or trained naturopathic physician who can work with you to monitor your progress and watch out for any drug/supplement interactions.
If treating your adult-onset diabetes with natural therapies seems a bit overwhelming, it’s understandable. Few patients go into a radical diet and lifestyle change without a little confusion and some kicking and screaming. It may be hard to imagine giving up the foods you enjoy most but think of it like this; you’ll be much healthier and happier in the long run!