Diabetes is a chronic disease that continues to increase in frequency for both children and adults in America. With diabetes blood glucose levels are abnormally elevated. This is due to a deficiency of the glucose hormone transporting hormone insulin, or body’s cells unable to properly utilize insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association a whopping 7% (21 million) of the American population has diabetes. One third of people who have diabetes are unaware they have it and require testing to identify the disease. Pre-diabetes, the stage before Type 2 diabetes is very common affecting up to 40% of the American population. It is more commonly being identified and treated with diet, lifestyle changes, exercise, nutritional supplements, and pharmaceuticals.
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 condition 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. It strikes during adulthood, most often in the elderly or in obese people over forty. However, it is becoming increasingly common 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. This is diabetes that occurs during a woman’s pregnancy.
Another important aspect of this disease is prediabetes. This is a condition in which the blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to be classiﬁed as diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that 57 million American adults have prediabetes.
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. Complementary therapies, while they may not substitute for conventional medical treatment, can provide helpful support for blood sugar control.
People with type 2 diabetes must also take their disease very seriously and consult 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 medication. No matter which kind of diabetes you have, you must always talk to your doctor about any therapies you plan to incorporate into your protocol. And never go off your medication without a doctor’s supervision.
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)
- Weight loss
- Strong thirst
- Excessive appetite
- Blurred vision
- A poor diet (particularly for Type 2 diabetes)
- An autoimmune reaction (due to a viral infection, environmental toxin, food allergy such as gluten and cow’s milk) is one proposed theory as to the origin of some cases of type 1 diabetes.
- Chronic stress and stress hormone imbalance
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially of chromium, B vitamins, zinc, vanadium, and vitamin D
- Fungal overgrowth
- Certain medications such as thiazide diuretics, corticosteroids such as prednisone, cholesterol lowering and antipsychotic drugs
- Environmental toxins such as mercury, dioxin(agent orange), pesticides, phthalates
The following tests help assess possible reasons for diabetes:
- Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially vitamin D, magnesium, chromium, vanadium, zinc, B vitamins, and potassium)—blood
- Digestive function and microbe/parasite/Candida testing—stool analysis
- Food allergies/sensitivities (especially gluten and cow’s milk)—blood
Diet and Lifestyle
Without question proper diet and exercise are critical components in controlling diabetes. Make sure to eat three meals a day at regular times, keeping portions moderate. Never skip breakfast which leads to blood glucose fluctuations in the morning. Keep your snacks small, choosing nuts, seeds, protein drinks, vegetables or fruit. Focus on Having at least two servings of fruits and three or more servings of vegetables per day. Many diabetics notice better glucose control by including small portions of protein at every meal. Examples include nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, fish, chicken, and lean meat. A modified Mediterranean style diet that is low in grains is effective.
It is particularly important to limit refined carbohydrates such as found in white flours, candy, fruit juice, soda pop, etc. Natural sweeteners such as Luo Han Go, stevia, and xylitol, are excellent substitute for baking or beverage sweeteners and do not adversely affect blood glucose levels. They are commonly available in health food stores.
A regular exercise program must be followed for those with diabetes. It reduces insulin and glucose levels, and shrinks fat cells making glucose control more effective. It also protects against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis which people with diabetes are more susceptible to. Talk with your physician about an exercise plan that lasts 30 minutes or more daily.
There are a variety of supplements that have been shown in research to help control blood sugar. Common supplements used by Dr. Stengler include berberine, Pycnogenol, vitamin K, chromium, vanadium, lipoic acid, and cinnamon extract. He also uses specialized medical foods as meal replacements that help control weight and blood sugar balance.