Diabetes is a chronic health problem that involves elevated blood sugar levels. The metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats directly or indirectly leads to the pro- duction of the substance glucose, also known as blood sugar. Glucose is needed to supply energy to every cell in the body. If glucose levels become too elevated, then they become toxic to the brain and other body organs. With diabetes, two main prob- lems can occur. One is a deﬁciency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that transports glucose into cells. The second is the resistance of the cells to insulin so that blood sugar cannot enter the cells. According to the American Diabetes Asso- ciation, 6.2 percent of the population has diabetes, with one third of the people (5.9 million) unaware that they have the disease.
Diabetes is categorized into three main types. In type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes, the production and the secretion of insulin by the pancreas are severely deﬁcient. Type 1 diabetes usually develops during childhood or adolescence. Because insulin levels are absent or dramatically low, people with type
1 need to inject themselves with insulin and monitor their blood sugar daily. This con- dition is thought to involve an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system attacks and damages its own pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of U.S. cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset or non–insulin dependent diabetes, is by far the more common of the two: about 90 to 95 percent of the diabetes in the United States is type 2, affecting over 16 million people. It strikes during adulthood, most often in the elderly or in obese people over forty. It is becoming increasingly com- mon with children, due to lack of exercise, obesity, and poor dietary habits. People with type 2 can produce sufﬁcient insulin, but the insulin and the glucose it transports cannot effectively enter into the cells. This category of diabetes is most often linked to a diet that is high in reﬁned carbohydrates and low in ﬁber, and it can usually be treated with an effective diet, exercise, and speciﬁc nutritional supplements.
The third category is known as gestational diabetes, diabetes that occurs during a woman’s pregnancy.
All three types of diabetes are very serious medical conditions. When left unmon- itored and untreated, blood-sugar levels can swing from dramatically low (hypo- glycemia) to dangerously high (hyperglycemia). Hypoglycemia comes on quickly and leaves you feeling dizzy, pale, sweaty, and confused. You may feel uncoordinated or have palpitations. If your glucose levels are not raised, your symptoms could grow worse, and you could lapse into a coma. Hyperglycemia isn’t much better. It may take hours or days to develop and can result in diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening
condition. Over the long term, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to heart dis- ease, kidney and nerve disorders, loss of vision, and other problems. The high levels of blood sugar can also leave the body vulnerable to infection.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you must work very closely with a good doctor and follow a lifelong treatment plan that includes medication, diet, and exercise. Comple- mentary therapies, while they may not substitute for conventional medical treatment, can provide helpful support to your taxed endocrine and other systems and help decrease the need for medications and reduce the long-term complications of the dis- ease. In very rare cases some people are able to get off insulin therapy when a com- prehensive natural approach is followed. This, of course, should never be tried without a doctor’s supervision.
People with type 2 diabetes must also take their disease very seriously and con- sult a doctor on a regular basis; however, they will usually ﬁnd that a comprehensive dietary, exercise, and supplemental program will reduce or eliminate the need for med- ication. No matter which kind of diabetes you have, you must always talk to your doc- tor about any therapies you plan to incorporate into your protocol. And never go off your medication without a doctor’s consent.
Because these symptoms may not seem serious, many people with diabetes remain undiagnosed. If they apply to you or to your child, see a doctor as soon as possible.
• Frequent urination (children may be constant bedwetters)
• Strong thirst
• Excessive appetite
• Weight loss
• Blurred vision
• A poor diet (particularly in type 2)
• An autoimmune reaction (due to a
viral infection, environmental
toxin, food allergy) is one proposed theory as to the origin of some
cases of type 1 diabetes.
• Chronic stress and the resulting stress hormone imbalance
• Nutritional deﬁciencies, especially of chromium, B vitamins, zinc, vanadium, and vitamin D
The most important therapy for diabetes is a healthful diet. These dietary suggestions
will help regulate your levels of sugar and also reduce your risk of complications, such as cardiovascular disease.
Follow a diet that’s high in ﬁber (vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains). Water-solu- ble ﬁber, as found in oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and apples, helps to balance blood sugar. Ground ﬂaxseeds should be consumed daily. Consume 1 tablespoon with each
The following tests help assess possible reasons for diabetes:
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, chromium, vana- dium, zinc, B vitamins)—blood
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
meal or 1⁄4 cup daily. Make sure to drink plenty of water when you start taking ﬂaxseeds
(10 ounces per tablespoon). A daily total of 50 mg of ﬁber daily is a great goal.
Consume vegetable protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, peas) or lean animal protein (turkey, chicken, ﬁsh) with each meal. Protein drinks that have low sugar levels can be consumed. Protein helps smooth out blood-sugar levels.
Many people with diabetes beneﬁt from increasing the our doctor makes a diagnosis of
diabetes according to the symptoms you exhibit, in addition to the results of blood and urine tests. Testing will also help your doctor determine whether you have
type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
relative amount of protein in the diet.
Focus on quality fats. Fish such as salmon is excellent, as are nuts and seeds. Use olive and ﬂaxseed oil with your salads.
Instead of eating three large meals, have several smaller meals throughout the day to keep your insulin and blood- sugar levels steady. Or have three main meals with healthy snacks in-between. Do not go longer than three hours without eating.
Chromium deﬁciency has been linked to diabetes, so eat lots of brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, cheese, soy products, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic will also help lower blood-sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
Enjoy plenty of berries, plums, and grapes, which con- tain phytochemicals that protect your vision.
Focus on foods with a low glycemic load value.
Sixty people with type 2 diabetes (30 men and 30 women) were divided randomly
into six groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 consumed
1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon daily, respec- tively, and groups 4, 5, and 6 were given placebo capsules corresponding to the num- ber of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. The cinnamon was consumed for 40 days, followed by a 20-day washout period. Researchers found that after 40 days,
all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18–29%), triglyceride (23–30%), LDL cholesterol (7–27%), and total cholesterol (12–26%) levels. There were no signiﬁcant changes found in the placebo groups.
Food to Avoid
Stay away from simple sugars. Obvious no-no’s are candy, cookies, sodas, and other sweets.
White, reﬁned bread also spikes blood-sugar levels. Whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas are better choices. Brown rice, barley, oats, spelt, and kamut are complex carbohydrates that are good choices.
Avoid cow’s milk. Some studies have found a link between cow’s milk ingestion and type 1 diabetes in children. It appears that some children, due to genetic reasons, react to the cow’s milk protein (caseins), which causes an autoimmune reaction with the pancreas.
Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
Cut back on your consumption of saturated fat. Found in red meat and dairy prod- ucts, it has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Avoid artiﬁcial sweeteners. Instead, use diabetic-safe and more healthful natural sweeteners, such as stevia or xylitol.
Avoid high glycemic load foods.
Glycemic index (GI) has become a popular term, as it is more meaningful than the label “simple carbohydrate.” GI refers to the rise of blood sugar
after ingesting a speciﬁc food. This numerical value is compared to the GI of glucose at a value of 100. Lower glycemic values are recommended for peo- ple with obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. For example, a Coca-Cola soft drink has a glycemic index of 63, whereas a serving of kidney beans has a value of 23.
Glycemic Index Guidelines
GI of 70 or more is considered high. GI of 56 to 69 is considered medium. GI of less than 55 is considered low.
Recently, doctors and researchers have placed more value on the glycemic load (GL) value of foods. The glycemic load takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of a particular food. The glycemic index tells you how quickly a carbohydrate turns into blood sugar, but it neglects to take into account the amount of carbohydrates in a serving, which is impor- tant. The higher the glycemic load value, the greater the blood-sugar level
and the resulting stress on insulin levels. This value is attained by multiplying the amount of carbohydrates contained in a speciﬁed serving size of the
food by the glycemic index value of that food, and then dividing by 100. For example, an apple has a GI of 40, compared to glucose, which is the base- line at 100, but the amount of carbohydrates available in a typical apple is
16 grams. The GL is calculated by multiplying the 16 grams of available car- bohydrate times 40 and then dividing by 100 to give a decimal number of approximately 6. Compare this to a serving of Rice Krispies that has a glycemic index of 82 and available 26 carbohydrates, making a glycemic load of 21. Another example would be macaroni and cheese, which has a glycemic load of 32.
Glycemic Load Guidelines
GL of 20 or more is considered high. GL of 11 to 19 is considered medium. GL of 10 or less is considered low.
Note: Glycemic index and glycemic load values for hundreds of different foods are available on numerous internet Web sites. These can be found at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Web site, http://www.ajcn.org (type in key word glycemic load values) or http://www.mendosa.com
Diabetics are particularly vulnerable to toxins. Although fasting is not an option if you have diabetes, other therapies will help ﬂush out toxic build-up and reduce your risk of developing diseases.
Consume detoxifying super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass, or a mixture of these super green foods.
The skin is the largest organ of elimination. Encourage it to expel toxins by giv- ing yourself a dry brush from head to toe every morning or night.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours to rid your body of toxins.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Diabetes
Super Prescription #1 Chromium
Take a daily total of up to 1,000 mcg. Chromium improves glucose tolerance and balances blood-sugar levels.
Super Prescription #2 Gymnema sylvestre
Take 400 mg of a 25 percent gymneic acid extract daily. Gymnema improves insulin
Studies have found chromium supple- mentation to be helpful for people with type 1 and type 2 dia- betes, as well as for women with diabetes that occurs during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
Super Prescription #3 Alpha lipoic acid
I with type 2
production in the pancreas, as well as insulin’s ability to lower blood-sugar levels.
Take 300 to 1,200 mg daily. Alpha lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Super Prescription #4 Vanadyl sulfate
Take 100 to 300 mg daily. It improves glucose tolerance in people with type 2 dia- betes. Higher dosages should be used under the supervision of a doctor.
Super Prescription #5 Cinnamon extract
Take 500 mg twice daily. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and utilization.
Super Prescription #6 High-potency multivitamin
This supplies many of the nutrients involved with blood sugar metabolism. Take as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #7 Essential fatty acids
Take a ﬁsh oil supplement with a combined total of 1,000 mg of DHA and EPA. Also take 1,500 mg of evening primrose oil daily. Essential fatty acids are needed for proper insulin function, and they support nerve health.
Biotin is involved with glucose metabolism and is helpful for type 1 and type 2 dia- betes. Take 9 to 16 mg daily.
An antioxidant formula supplies additional antioxidants, which are generally required in higher amounts in people with diabetes. Take as directed on the container.
B-complex vitamins are involved in blood sugar metabolism and help treat diabetic symptoms such as neuropathy. Take a 50 mg B-complex daily.
Vitamin B12 is helpful for the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Take 1,000 mcg sublingually or by injection from your doctor (1 cc twice weekly).
Vitamin C helps prevent the complications of diabetes. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.
Magnesium is involved with insulin production and utilization. Take a daily total of 500 to 750 mg. Reduce dosage if loose stools occur.
In one study, 22peoplediabetes were given400 mg of gymnema extract daily for 18 to20 months while they continued their dia- betic medications. Researchers found a signiﬁcant improve- ment in blood-sugar levels. Most people were able to reduce the amount of their medications, and 5 were able to discon- tinue their medica- tions. Another controlled study of people with type 1 diabetes who supple- mented gymnema extract found a decreased need for insulin and improved blood sugar control. Those taking a placebo showed no signiﬁcant decrease in blood sugar or in insulin requirements.
CoQ10 tends to be low in people with diabetes. One study found that it has a blood sugar–lowering effect. CoQ10 prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation, which is more prevalent in people with diabetes.
Vitamin E improves glucose regulation and prevents cholesterol oxidation. Take 800 to 1,200 IU daily of a formula containing tocotrienols and tocopherols.
Banaba leaf has been shown in animal and human studies to lower blood-sugar lev- els. Take 16 mg three times daily.
Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract balances the immune system, which is impor- tant for type 1 diabetes. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
Pancreas extract supports pancreatic function. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
Adrenal extract supports adrenal gland function, which is also important for blood-sugar regulation. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
DHEA is often low in people with diabetes. If tests show that you have low lev- els, take 5 to 25 mg daily under a doctor’s supervision.
Psyllium has been shown to reduce blood-sugar levels. It is a good source of ﬁber. Take up to 5 grams daily.
Asian ginseng (panax ginseng) has been shown in a study to help improve blood- sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Take 200 mg daily.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) can help balance blood-sugar levels. Take 5 ml twice daily of the tincture form or 200 mg in capsule form, three times daily of a standardized extract.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is an important herb for the diabetic. It stabilizes blood sugar and helps reduce your risk of heart disease and other circulatory disorders by improving blood ﬂow, lowering elevated blood pressure, and reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol. Take 300 to 450 mg twice daily.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) may help to prevent diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Take 160 mg twice a day of a product standardized to 25 percent anthocyanosides.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is another herb that stabilizes blood sugar. Take a product with an equivalent dosage of 15 to 50 grams daily.
Gingko biloba stimulates blood ﬂow. Find a brand that’s standardized to 24 per- cent ﬂavone glycosides, and take 60 to 120 mg twice daily.
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil may help prevent and treat diabetic neu- ropathy. Take a product containing 480 mg daily of GLA (the active essential fatty acid in evening primrose).
Teas made with peppermint, chamomile, and passionﬂower all have soothing properties and encourage relaxation.
Consult with a homeopathic practitioner to individualize your homeopathic treatment.
• Governing Vessel 24.5 supports the endocrine system.
• To improve circulation, massage Gallbladder 21.
Diabetics often suffer from poor circulation, and a massage is a relaxing way to improve blood ﬂow. Regular massages of the feet may be especially beneﬁcial to help ward off foot ulcers.
Work the points that correspond to the pancreas, the liver, and the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands. You will probably have to massage these points every day for sev- eral months to see an effect.
Alternating hot and cold baths will stimulate circulation.
Have fun trying the many different relaxing oils. See page 658 for more information, but you may want to start with bergamot, jasmine, lavender, rose, sandalwood, or ylang ylang. Use them in a massage, a bath, lotions, or any of the other methods listed in the Aromatherapy chapter.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Diabetes puts additional stress on almost every part of your body and every area of your life. Keep your emotional health in balance by experimenting with the stress- reduction techniques discussed in the Exercise and Stress Reduction chapter. When you ﬁnd one or two you like, practice them on a regular basis.
• Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. If you are diabetic, you are vulnerable to heart and kidney damage, both of which are linked to smoking. You may also have circulation problems, and smoking impairs blood ﬂow.
• Poor circulation and nerve damage can lead to foot ulcers in diabetics. Keep the blood ﬂowing through your feet by wearing comfortable shoes that ﬁt well.
• If you’re obese and have type 2 diabetes, you need to lose weight. The previous diet recommendations should help you take off the weight safely, as will the Obesity section in this book, but talk to your doctor about the best weight-loss plan for you.
• Alternating hot and cold compresses, applied to the abdomen, just over the pancreas and the kidneys, will encourage proper insulin production, along with regular elimination of ﬂuids from the kidneys.
• Exercise regularly to maintain optimal blood-sugar levels. Walking after meals is effective for some people.
• If you’re a woman and want to conceive, your blood-sugar levels must be under control before you get pregnant; otherwise, your baby will be at risk for developing birth defects. It often takes months of treatment before glucose lev- els become stable.