Although funding into research for diabetes has tripled in the last 5 years, diabetes is still on the increase.
There are many contributing factors to the prevalence of diabetes and I would like to provide you with some information on these, as well as preventative and therapeutic alternatives. Type 2 diabetes especially is a preventable disease, and many factors contributing to its prevalence are lifestyle factors.
Maintenance of appropriate body weight, regular exercise, a healthy diet and reduced stress levels are of utmost importance in prevention of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is considered to be an autoimmune and inflammatory disorder that results in the destruction of pancreatic β-cells, causing a subsequent loss of insulin production and secretion.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder which results from a reduction in insulin secretion and the development of insulin resistance in major target tissues. It is characterised by an impaired pancreatic β-cell insulin response to glucose levels after ingestion of food, reduced glucose tolerance and a failure of elevated glucose to stop gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose). There is also a strong association between insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown that 69 per cent of type 2 diabetics are overweight or obese, and an additional 75 per cent have leave a sedentary lifestyle with inadequate exercise. Hence the importance of weight control and exercise for this condition.
Some points to consider for preventing this disease therefore would be:
- A healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Reduced stress levels
Exercise and diet can make a big difference for diabetics. To demonstrate how significant even a small reduction of glucose can be, we consider the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, which was conducted from 1983 to 1993 by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
This study showed that keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible slows the onset and progression of eye, kidney, and nerve diseases caused by diabetes.
In fact, it demonstrated that any sustained lowering of blood glucose helps – even if the person has a history of poor control. HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) reflects average blood glucose levels over a two- or three-month period. In this study, researchers found that even a 2 per cent decrease of blood glucose levels was associated with dramatic results: a 75 per cent reduction in risk of developing eye disease, a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of kidney disease, and a 60 per cent reduction in nerve disease.
There are many methods and strategies we utilise in our clinic to assist our clients with reduction of stress levels, including relaxation techniques, counselling, discussion of issues and facilitating solutions, and the use of appropriate and effective herbs and supplements. Strategies and approach would greatly depend on the person’s needs and cause of stress for any individual.
There are a number nutrients and herbs that can be of assistance in treating high glucose levels.
Several nutrients and herbs have been identified as helping maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Examples are Cinnamon, Goats Rue and Gymnema among others as far as herbals are concerned, and vitamins and minerals such as Biotin, Zinc, Chromium (Picolinate), Magnesium and Alpha Lipoic Acid have also shown promising results in many studies. It is beyond the scope of this short article to go into greater details about the various natural remedies, suffice to say that treatment is specialised and the advice of a professional must be sought for satisfactory results. Any treatment would again consider in conjunction with natural remedies, the importance of dietary factors, exercise and stress levels.
Let’s look at some examples of how these can assist.
Thiamine can be taken as an example of a vitamin supplement that may assist. Thiamine plays a vital role in carbohydrate metabolism within all cells of the human body. There have been suggestions for many years that diabetic patients have impaired absorption of thiamine and may display low levels of thiamine deficiency. Plus, surges of glucose can destroy thiamine, leaving the cells with a functional deficiency, meaning they still work but not as well as they could if they had the thiamine they need. If your thiamine level is deficient, it throws the whole system off. Without adequate thiamine, your cells are literally soaking in a toxic glucose bath. This gives glucose ample opportunity to move in and cause all sorts of problems, from fatigue to neuropathy.
Gymnema is one of the many herbs that I have mentioned above. The statement below is from a study that I Have sighted for your information.
The effectiveness of GS4, an extract from the leaves of Gymnema Sylvestre, in controlling hyperglycaemia was investigated in 22 Type 2 diabetic patients on conventional oral anti-hyperglycaemic agents. GS4 (400 mg/day) was administered for 18-20 months as a supplement to the conventional oral drugs. During GS4 supplementation, the patients showed a significant reduction in blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin and glycosylated plasma proteins, and conventional drug dosage could be decreased. Five of the 22 diabetic patients were able to discontinue their conventional drug and maintain their blood glucose homeostasis with GS4 alone. These data suggest that the beta cells may be regenerated/repaired in Type 2 diabetic patients on GS4 supplementation. This is supported by the appearance of raised insulin levels in the serum of patients after GS4 supplementation.
(Baskaran, K., et al. Antidiabetic effects of a leaf extract from Gymnema Sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 30(3):295-305, 1990).
It is of great importance to understand that herbs cannot be easily prescribed by the layperson for a number of reasons. Except that they require special knowledge and expertise, not all herbs are the same. The dosage would depend on the strength of the herb as well as its combining with other herbs. The quality of herbs can vary greatly in active ingredients and strength of the final product after processing and this is a critical factor in prescribing herbs. The herbs available to practitioners are not available to the general public. Depending of which herbs we combine, we will appropriately adjust dosage and frequency. Monitoring of results and adjusting dosage and combinations are also important considerations.
At the Centre of Health we only use the best quality herbs after careful study and consideration of how they are manufactured, their strength, content of active ingredients and purity. You can always rest assured that you are getting the absolute best available at our clinic.