Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms listed below?
- Numbness or burning sensations in the feet, ankles, legs or hands, fingers
- Blurred or poor vision
- Poor wound healing
- Frequent urination
- Thirst unquenched by drinking water
These symptoms tend to be common in people with diabetes.
Diabetes is one of the most serious diseases causing death and disability in the United States. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) estimated that 20.8 Americans suffer from diabetes. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is far more common than Type 1 and makes up 90% or more of all cases of diabetes. It has been associated with an increase in obesity and sedentary life style. Diabetes is considered to be an inflammatory disorder and is a leading contributor to heart disease.
According to numerous research articles and studies, Type 2 diabetes is highly preventable because Type 2 diabetes is more of a life-style related disorder. The goal of diabetes treatment is to maintain a healthy blood glucose level, which essentially means preventing the diabetes from being expressed. Although there are many ways to prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes medically, life style changes such as eating healthfully and exercising can be the most effective way to reduce percent body fat, thus eliminating one of the potential risk factors. Surprisingly, successful lifestyle changes frequently eliminate the need for medications.
According to the most recent studies to prevent and treat diabetes, people can stay healthy by eating the following foods:
- Foods low in saturated and trans fats
- Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index that are high in water soluble fiber
- Fresh fruits with edible peels and skins
- Organic vegetables prepared with a minimum of water and free of sauces
- “Lean clean” proteins
Healthy lean sources of protein such as skinless cage free poultry, cold water fatty fish, low fat or fat free organic dairy products, omega 3 organic eggs, and wild free-range (grass fed) red meats such as buffalo, bison and ostrich should be included at each meal and serve to buffer the release of sugar from the meal starches. If preferred, vegetarian sources of protein such as tofu, and combining grains (ex. brown rice) with legumes (ex. black beans) can also serve as protein at a meal, although they need to be taken into consideration since they also provide carbohydrates.
Sources of healthful mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats such as wild salmon, walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, olives, avocados and nut butters with the oil skimmed off, as well as small amounts of organic virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil and canola oil will add texture and flavor to the foods contributing to satiety (satisfaction).
To control blood glucose levels, it is also helpful to monitor the amount as well as type of carbohydrate consumed. Since carbohydrate servings have a great effect on increasing blood glucose level, control portions of the following foods very carefully. Think of a portion as either the size of your closed fist (about the size of your heart) or the size of cup that most closely approximates your fist.
- Grains (wheat, rye, spelt, oat, triticale, barley, quinoa, amaranth, millet, sorghum, etc)
- Pastas (best are made of brown rice, quinoa, or whole grains with added omega 3 fats)
- Rice (best are brown, black, wild, arborio, or sticky)
- Breads (check for the word ‘whole’ as the first ingredient and grams of fiber higher than sugar)
- Crackers (same as above for breads, there are also many new crackers made of novel grains)
- Cereals (same as above for breads and crackers)
- Starchy vegetables including corn, sweet potatoes and winter squashes (acorn, butternut, etc)
- Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils
- Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheeses
Avoid sources of simple sugars such as fruit juices, honey, brown sugar, jams and jellies, fruit sauces and butters, sodas, sugar water drinks in the kool ade and power ade families, desserts made with simple sugars such as donuts, cakes, pies, cookies, candies, pastries; ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and frozen yogurt as well as miscellaneous items such as gum and breath mints.
Limit sources of white flour which have a high glycemic index and become blood sugar very rapidly after consuming such as white breads, rolls, bagels, pita, flatbreads, crusts, buns, pretzels, crackers, wraps, pastas (even the spinach or tomato ones), white rice, white potato and any fried starches (chips, french fries, fried dough, etc)
Exercise daily, aerobically, building up your duration as your stamina increases and your energy from your healthy food sustains your muscles’ fuel and movement. Best choices are anything you enjoy doing that you will continue to do regularly: bike, swim laps, walk, jog, treadmill, stationary bike, rowing machine, elliptical, stair stepper, hiking, mini-tramp, etc. Optimum is 45 minutes per day of the same muscle movement. For variety, have both an indoor and outdoor activity you can rely on. Look for ways to also increase your lean muscle mass as these are your fat burners: weight resistant movement 2-3 times per week, preferably initially with a trainer to prevent injury and learn proper posture. Reducing 500 calories per day by eating 250 less and burning up 250 more will result in a 3500 calorie deficit over the course of a week, there are 3500 calories in 1 pound of stored body fat.
Supplements found to be especially helpful for blood sugar control include:
- the minerals* magnesium, chromium and vanadium
- the B vitamin* family
- herbs from aryuvedic tradition such as fenugreek, bitter melon, gymnema sylvestre
- the fatty acid GLA (gamma linoleic acid) which helps complete a particular enzymatic step in fat metabolism known to be deficient in diabetes
- alpha lipoic acid which may help correct and prevent peripheral neuropathy
- Co-enzyme Q10 to help support oxygenation of the tissues and mitochondrial function for energy
*note, minerals and vitamins need to be in a particular form in order to be bio-available for both absorption and utilization of the tissues. It is best to work with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Clinical Nutritionist who is trained in how to evaluate your supplements for efficacy or who may be able to access lines of neutraceuticals especially formulated for therapeutic intervention that are not available over the counter.