10 Natural Treatments For Type 2 Diabetes
It is a sad fact of life that despite our collective obsession with health and fitness we are, as a population, more prone to adult onset diabetes than at any other time in history. This is certainly the case in the US where the CDC estimate that a staggering 29.1 million people, equivalent to over 9% of the American population, suffer with diabetes. This problem is mirrored across much of the developed world.
There are two types of diabetes – Type I diabetics are unable to produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar and convert it into energy. Type I diabetics are typically diagnosed as children and are typically insulin dependent.
While many people have a lot of sympathy for Type I diabetics, those who are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes often receive less support, understanding and sympathy. This is because, due to the nature of the disease, it is often seen as something people bring on themselves. This is not fair, certainly diet and lifestyle choices play a part but there are genetic factors at work too and for many people, eating the Standard American Diet (often referred to as SAD), which seems to be designed to encourage the development of Type II Diabetes is all they have ever heard of or known about.
Over the years the effects of the SAD and a lack of exercise take their toll on the body and those people who are genetically predisposed to diabetes will find themselves developing Type II, a condition where their bodies start to become resistant to insulin and may even stop producing insulin as efficiently as before.
Being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes can be a scary thing. You may think that you are looking at a future of insulin injections and popping tablets every morning. The list of potential problems you have to worry about if you cannot get your blood sugar under control is worrying both in its length and in the severity of the problems. You may be looking into a future where your toes and feet will have to be amputated due to Diabetic Neuropathy (a condition where the excess blood sugar damages the extremities), you may be looking at kidney damage, vision problems, impotence and a whole host of other worrying things.
There is good news in amongst all the worry, however, and that good news is that while there is no cure for Type II Diabetes it is possible to manage the disease which is far more responsive to a holistic approach than Type I Diabetes. Some Type II Diabetics even manage to get their disease under such good control that they are able to reduce or even eliminate the need for medications.
There are programs out there that tell you to stop taking your prescribed medication and to follow their instructions to lower your blood sugar. We are not going to do that, if your Physician has prescribed medication it is because your blood sugar readings indicate that you need it. In fact, if you have Type II Diabetes or any medical condition consult a medical professional. I am not a doctor, nurse, or medical professional. What we have listed in this article; however, are 10 suggestions for remedies that are known to help people reduce and manage their blood sugar and you may find that they work for you. Do not stop your medication but do monitor your blood sugar readings, if you find that your readings are reducing you can speak with your physician or Diabetes Nurse about the possibility of reducing your dose, changing or even eliminating your prescribed medication.
Do also remember that Type II Diabetes will be with you for the rest of your life, different methods may work at different times and you will need continually to assess their effectiveness as time goes on.
10. Complete a Mini-Fast Program
Losing weight is one of the key factors in getting your Diabetes under control. It is the number one piece of advice that all doctors tell their patients at the time of their first diagnosis. Sadly very few Diabetics take this advice as seriously as they should and therefore do not get the full benefit of the advice.
A mini fast program is both sustainable and achievable and you will see results fast. With this program you are allowed to drink as much water, tea or coffee as you like but must not eat anything until lunchtime. You should also aim to do about half an hour of exercise in the early morning. You can eat normally at both lunch and supper time although you should aim to follow a healthy, diabetic diet (see below).
The reason this fast works is because your body has already been fasting overnight, going an extra few hours without food and throwing in some exercise encourages your body to enter into a state called ketosis where it burns fat more efficiently. Trials have shown that people who followed the program for a period of 12 weeks saw their fasting insulin reading become normal (compared to an elevated reading before the trial. They also lost an average of 16 pounds and 3 inches around their waists. All results worth fasting for!
9. Ensure You Have Enough Chromium
Many people who suffer from Diabetes believe that Chromium can help to regulate blood sugar. Chromium is an element that is used in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and, vitally, in the metabolism of insulin. Our bodies do not produce Chromium, however, so we have to absorb it from our diets or take supplements.
Sadly while it is known that Chromium can help manage Type II Diabetes no research has yet managed to find out what levels diabetics should take for optimum benefit. There are also concerns that taking too much Chromium can cause kidney damage. Generally the current advice is that you should not take Chromium supplements as you might, inadvertently, take too much. Rather you should aim to eat foods rich in Chromium, these include Beef, Chicken, Green peppers, Apples, Spinach, Bananas, Eggs and Tomatoes.
8. Use Ginseng
Diabetes doctors are very excited by the potential for red ginseng to control blood sugar. One study showed that Type II Diabetics whose blood sugar was kept under control (but not fully normalized) by medication saw their blood sugar levels drop to normal when they took a combination of red ginseng and viscous fiber.
A second study showed that red ginseng helped people suffering from Type II Diabetes to process their own insulin more effectively.
At the present time there have been no large scale studies and nobody has determined exactly how much ginseng someone suffering from Diabetes should take in order for it to be effective. There are also concerns that taking ginseng alongside prescription medications cold cause blood sugar levels to drop to dangerously low levels. For this reason, if you want to take some ginseng supplements you should consider speaking to your physician who can then monitor your blood sugar and adjust your medications accordingly.
7. Take More Magnesium
Research has shown that Magnesium plays a vital role in protecting against the onset of diabetes. It is thought that taking magnesium supplements can delay the onset of Type II Diabetes. For that reason it is worth ensuring that your family members take a supplement that includes Magnesium. If you already suffer from Type II Diabetes however, it is still not too late as it is believe that Magnesium, at the right levels can help protect against some of the more unpleasant side effects of the disease and improve insulin sensitivity.
Surveys show that up to as many as 85% of Americans are failing to achieve the recommended daily allowance of Magnesium. Rather than taking supplements to boost your magnesium (which might lead to kidney problems) the experts advise people to eat plenty of food rich in Magnesium. This includes bran, avocados, peas, leafy vegetables and nuts such as almonds.
6. Supplement with Coenzyme Q10
It may have a strange name but Coenzyme Q10 plays a vital role in assisting our enzymes in digesting food. It is also an antioxidant and therefore it is thought that it provides a powerful protective benefit by preventing excess oxidation of the body cells.
Recent, small scale studies from Japan have claimed that a form of Coenzyme Q10 known as ubiquinol can help Type II Diabetics to control their blood sugar. Other studies have shown that Coenzyme Q10 can reduce the impact of diabetic neuropathy.
Coenzyme Q10 supplements are readily available from the health food store. At the present time there is neither a recommended daily dose nor an upper limit but some people have reported unpleasant side effects such as insomnia when taking supplements.
While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this treatment it certainly does not appear as though it would do any harm and has the potential to do a great deal of good. If you do not have any side effects from the supplement it is probably worthwhile taking some extra Coenzyme Q10.. As usual, however, do monitor your blood sugar levels carefully to make sure that they do not dip too low. You should also be aware that while generally safe Coenzyme Q10 has been known to interact poorly with some blood pressure medications and with chemotherapy medicines. It should also not be taken when you are pregnant. For these reasons you should make sure that your doctor is aware that you are taking the supplement so that he can advise you accordingly.
5. Spice Things Up With Cinnamon
It may sound strange but Cinnamon, the brown Christmassy spice, could help to control your blood sugar levels. Before you reach for the Cinnamon Latte or an iced Cinnamon bun, however, you should know a little more about how and why it works.
Research has shown that Cinnamon appears to have a wide range of potential benefits for Diabetes sufferers. Firstly it helps the body to metabolize glucose more efficiently – up to 20 times more efficiently! Cinnamon contains a compound that appears to be an efficient substitute for insulin. It slows the passage of food through the stomach which has the effect of preventing spikes in blood sugar and allowing your insulin to work more effectively. If all of that were not enough the benefits don’t stop there. Cinnamon is, like Coenzyme Q10 a powerful antioxidant and it has a component which changes the way your fat cells signal insulin.
With all these benefits taking more cinnamon seems like a bit of a no brainer and to be fair taking cinnamon is not known to cause any problems. Taking cinnamon powder every day is hardly likely to be very palatable, however, and it would probably put you off the taste very quickly. Far better to find healthy recipes that would be complemented by the use of cinnamon and drink cinnamon teas etc.
You should, as usual when changing your blood sugar management regime, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels carefully and ensure that your doctor is aware that you are taking cinnamon.
4. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee
Coffee gets a consistently bad press from almost every angle. We are told that too much caffeine is bad for us, that coffee will make us jittery and open us up to a whole host of health problems from heart disease to cancer. Recent research has, however, shown us that coffee consumption can actually be beneficial. It seems that the studies that showed the negative side of coffee were flawed and failed to account for other negative behaviors that could have led to the health problems concerned.
Indeed it appears that drinking a few cups of coffee a day has been shown to protect against the onset of Type II Diabetes. People who enjoy 4 cups a day have a 25% reduced risk of becoming a Type II Diabetic than those who drank less than 2 cups. Sadly while coffee may help to ward off type II Diabetes it is not such good news if you are already a sufferer.
We don’t yet know what compound within coffee helps to ward off the onset of Type II Diabetes but we do know that it is not caffeine. Caffeine, sadly, can play havoc with blood sugar, in fact it is so detrimental to diabetics that it can wipe out the blood sugar benefits conferred by their medication. Sadly the protective element (whatever it is) is not strong enough to counteract the effects of the caffeine.
If you have already been diagnosed as diabetic you should consider swapping your regular coffee for decaf. Whether because you have removed the caffeine from the drink and therefore its detrimental impact on your blood sugar or because of the yet to be discovered protective element you will probably see some benefit.
3. Take Clove Extract
Cloves, like cinnamon, are a Far Eastern Spice used to add flavor to dishes. Cloves have antiseptic properties and have been used for centuries to treat mouth infections and tooth ache. Studies into the impact of cloves on blood sugar have shown that when between 1 and 3 grams of clove powder is taken consistently it can reduce blood sugar levels effectively.
You should avoid taking clove supplements if you are also taking blood clotting medication and always consult your doctor before starting a new supplement as your blood sugar levels will need to be carefully monitored and managed.
2. Eat a Diabetic Diet
Eating well can be the key to helping keep your Type II Diabetes under control. Just as eating the wrong food caused you to become diabetic so eating the right food can help resolve the problem somewhat.
One of the best diets for people who suffer from Type II Diabetes is one that follows the principals of the Low Glycemic Index diet. Studies have shown that people who followed a low GI diet were much more able to keep their sugar under control than those who did not.
Many people believe that a diagnosis of diabetes means eschewing the carbohydrates that so many of us enjoy because carbohydrates are converted into sugars. Carbohydrates with a low GI, however, have far less impact on blood sugar. Foods are scored on a Glycemic Index of up to 100, this measures how much a portion of that food will raise blood sugars. Foods scoring over 70 on the index are considered high GI foods whereas those that score less than 55 are considered low GI foods. Low GI foods include oatmeal and bran, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes and the majority of fruits and low starch vegetables.
Foods such as rye and pita bread, quick cook oats and rice typically have a medium GI while foods such as popular breakfast cereals, white bread, pumpkins, pretzels and pineapples have a high GI.
Typically foods that are naturally high in fiber will have a lower GI than refined products. The actual GI score will, however, depend on several factors including cooking and storage methods. The American Diabetic Association advises that it is possible to combine high and low GI foods in a meal in order to even out the impact of the higher foods on blood sugar.
If you are interested in following a Low GI diet for both health and to help manage your blood sugar there is a huge range of different books on sale which will help you find your way. If possible look for one which has been endorsed by a reputable doctor or diabetic association.
Exercising is one of the best things you can do to help control your blood sugar. It has additional benefits as well – you will be fitter and healthier and therefore more able to fight off infections (colds and other minor illnesses can play havoc with your blood sugar). It will also help get your weight down (see point 10 above)
If you have not done much exercise before now you should aim to start gently with some aerobic exercise such as gentle walking or a Couch2 5K running program aiming for about 3 times a week at first. As your level of fitness improves you can start to build up the intensity of your exercise program. At this stage you can start to add some resistance training to your exercise regime – this is a fantastic way to improve your blood sugar control.
Exercise is a great way to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. This is great news when it comes to maintaining a healthy overall level but you do need to be careful during exercise sessions. Monitor your blood sugar both before and after a session. If you notice that you start to feel shaky, sweat more than you expect to or feel your heartbeat change you may be becoming hypoglycemic so monitor your levels closely. If your sugar control is erratic you may want to exercise with a close friend who can keep an eye on you. Always make sure that you have a snack close to hand to boost your sugar if it gets too low.
Be aware that because of the possibility and potential for diabetes to cause damage through neuropathy you have to pay particular attention to your feet, stop exercising if you get blisters and do not resume until they are completely healed. If you have persistent problems with your feet a non-impact exercise such as swimming might be better for you.
So there you have a list of the top 10 ways that you can manage your Type II Diabetes naturally. Some websites will tell you that if you follow their advice you can end your dependence on diabetic medications once and for all. We believe that advice is potentially irresponsible. As we have stressed throughout the article Diabetes is a disease that is with you for life. That means that you need to treat it with respect and work closely with your doctor to manage your condition. Not all of the remedies listed in this article will work for all people all of the time but, used wisely and in conjunction with traditional blood monitoring you may find that your dependence on diabetic medications could reduce. If you are sensible you will find that although Diabetes is with you for life it does not have to control your life. Good luck!