Diabetes is a growing global epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide, but recent studies on various natural remedies for diabetes provide hope for reversing this disease. From adopting a fasting-mimicking diet to incorporating superfoods like spirulina and ginseng, there are lots of natural options that provide long-lasting results. Committing to healthy choices and positive lifestyle changes has helped many people overcome the disease, proving that Diabetes does not have to be a life sentence.
Diabetes: Risk Factors
Type 2 Diabetes plagues the United States, but is even more rampant in many developing countries, triggered in large part by a shift to less healthy nutritional habits and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, all fueled by the drive of rapid urbanization and economic growth. Asia is one of the largest epicenters of this disease, with an estimated 60 percent of the world’s diabetes patients living in that region.
Diabetics often find their bodies swinging wildly out of equilibrium. In Type 1 Diabetes, the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing a rise in blood sugar levels. In Type 2 Diabetes there is insufficient insulin produced in the pancreas, which slows the metabolism and elevates blood sugar levels. Both conditions, if not treated correctly, can cause a host of unpleasant side effects including high blood pressure, neuropathy, kidney damage, and in extreme cases amputation and even death.
Diabetes Conventional Treatments
Conventional treatment for Type 1 Diabetes generally involves insulin supplementation in the form of injections. Because Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, it can affect both children and adults, and it’s not uncommon for diabetics to be dependent on lifelong insulin treatments. Type 2, on the other hand, is largely a product of poor lifestyle choices or little access to healthy foods, and is more likely to occur later in life. However, in recent years, there has been an alarming rise in Type 2 Diabetes cases among children and adolescents, which largely stems from an overwhelming obesity issue.
While Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that seems to affect people with certain gene types, Type 2 Diabetes is triggered by lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and obesity. Eating sugary and processed foods contributes to weight gain, and that extra body fat can be released into the bloodstream, impeding the absorption of insulin and other chemicals related to metabolism. When metabolism is slowed, weight gain is more likely, and the cycle repeats itself. Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is multifaceted, often including insulin injections, a host of medications, and lifestyle modifications such as diet changes and exercise regimens.
Natural Remedies For Diabetes
There has been a slew of studies done on the topic of alternative and naturopathic treatments and natural remedies for diabetes, and many of them exhibit long-lasting, beneficial results. While conventional medicine tends to treat only the symptoms of disease, alternative medicine focuses on both the underlying causes of the ailment, as well as the symptoms, evaluating the body as an interconnected whole.
Nicole Pitts, a clinical intern at the Daoist Traditions Student Clinic in Asheville, North Carolina, shared some insights on the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to treatment.
Chinese medicine teaches us that we do not treat a patient based solely on a Western medical diagnosis, but, rather, based on the symptoms that present, and the health of the body as a whole system. There are several beneficial herbal formulas that have been developed to treat some of the general symptoms, but it is important to remember that not everyone will present symptoms in the same way, and treatment should be individualized to suit the specific needs of the patient.
Taking control of one’s health, learning to listen to the body, and being your own best health advocate is an empowering experience. The following list, though by no means exhaustive, provides natural remedies for diabetes options that are relatively inexpensive and easy to incorporate into an existing treatment plan.
1. Avoid toxins as much as possible: There is no doubt that we live in a polluted world, and it is next to impossible to avoid all toxins, however, recent research suggests that environmental toxins such as pesticides in our food and drinking water can be factors in causing or worsening Type 1 Diabetes. To lessen the amount of toxins that enter the body, try to buy “green” cleaners, organic fruits and vegetables, and dairy that is from organic or grass-fed cows. Although these items may be a bit more expensive, the health benefits are well-worth the higher price tag.
2. Try a Fasting-mimicking diet: A recent study article published in Science Daily suggests that a fasting-mimicking diet may be helpful in reversing the effects of Type 2 Diabetes. The diet works, in part, by allowing the pancreas to regenerate and produce new insulin cells, and is an important step in the ongoing fight against diabetes.
3. Ginseng Tea: Ginseng is helpful for lowering blood sugar levels. It also increases energy and stamina, and has a pleasant taste. Caution: do not take Ginseng if you suffer from high blood pressure.
4. Incorporate spirulina into your diet: This potent superfood is packed full of vitamins and minerals and has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels. It does have a strong taste, and is best added to a smoothie or green drink. Here are some yummy recipes for spirulina.
5. Take Chromium Picolinate: A combination of the mineral chromium and the amino acid picolinate, this nutritional supplement has proven to be beneficial in stabilizing blood sugar levels by aiding in insulin absorption and facilitating the movement of glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Recommended dosage is 400-600 mcg daily.
6. Eat a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates: Fiber-rich foods help reduce blood sugar surges, and can contribute to the body feeling full, which can stop the urge to overeat. Complex carbohydrates are foods that have a complex chemical structure and break down slowly in the body, providing a steady release of sugars into the bloodstream. Foods that are both high in fiber and rich in complex carbohydrates are brown rice, whole grains, vegetables, beans, and legumes..
7. Choose a real food diet: Sugary, processed foods are mainly simple carbohydrates and when ingested cause spikes in blood sugar levels and are all-around unhealthy for the body. Make sure you steer clear of candy, soda, snacks like potato chips and cookies, starches like white rice and potatoes, and processed “quick meals.” Though natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup are better, you still need to limit them because they can cause sugar spikes. Fruit should be eaten in moderation as well and kept to the lower sugar varieties. Additionally, gluten, cow’s milk, alcohol, refined oils like canola oil, and GMO’s should be avoided. Stick with whole foods from healthy sources instead.
8. Get your protein from vegetable sources, fish, and dairy: Plant-based proteins have a balanced nutritional profile (providing fiber, fat, and protein) and are low in saturated fats. Some saturated fats, like those that are heavily processed or from unhealthy animals, can be dangerous, as they raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. Dairy from pastured animals (such as yogurt) that is low in sugar provides protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial probiotics, and non-mercury contaminated, wild caught fish is a great source of protein that is low in saturated fat and high in amino acids and fatty acids like Omega-3.
9. Exercise! Moderate to vigorous exercise that includes both cardio and strength building components are great ways to keep the body fit. Exercise can also contribute to a more positive outlook on life, which can boost the immune system, provide capacity for healthier coping strategies, and decrease stress. Yoga, hiking, and jogging are all good options. To boost your metabolism, make sure your work-outs incorporate strength training. It is also far more effective to incorporate high intensity interval workouts to your regime, such as sprinting and HIIT workouts.
10. Molecular Hydrogen: One of the best natural remedies for diabetes, this potent antioxidant has proven successful in the treatment of several different health ailments, and is now showing promise as a treatment for diabetes. It works by triggering antioxidative activities within cells, and can promote increased metabolism as well as assist in the absorption of insulin. It’s taken topically, mixed in water, or inhaled as a gas. It has no toxicity levels, even if taken at high doses.
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11. Get regular eye exams: Diabetic retinopathy is caused by elevated levels of blood sugar, which can happen when diabetes goes out of control. The disease can damage the blood vessels around the eye and retina, leading to blurred vision and blindness. Diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured, and often has no early symptoms, which makes it difficult to catch. Diabetics should make sure they get regular eye exams, for early detection and treatment.
12. Consult a naturopathic, homeopathic, and/or Chinese medical doctor: Alternative practitioners are trained to treat the patient as a whole, organic being — not just their disease. This may help you develop a well-rounded treatment approach, as well as provide you with new information and perspectives on the disease and form of natural remedies for diabetes.
Natural Remedies for Diabetes: Taking Back The Reins
While both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are serious illnesses, they do not have to negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Armed with knowledge and natural remedies for diabetes, a person can often reverse many aspects of the illness, eventually finding a balancing point where optimum wellness can be achieved.
Rosanna Keyes is a writer, editor, yoga teacher, and office manager extraordinaire living in the Asheville, NC area. She has a B.S.S. from Ohio University with concentrations in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Geography. She has been practicing yoga for over ten years and received her 200-hour teaching certification in 2013. Over the years yoga and writing have been important mainstays in her life. She is continually amazed and humbled at the deep healing, balance, and peace that comes from these practices, and she is grateful to be able to share those experiences with others.
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