Two recently released reports have revealed that Canada has one of the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes among 34 developed countries. Estimates suggest that more than three million Canadians struggle with this disease, and a further 5.7 million have pre-diabetes which could develop into the full-blown disorder.
This is a huge chunk of our population who are suffering from high, elevated blood sugars and a range of symptoms that can prove to be fatal.
But here is the truth about diabetes, which in the Type 2 variety means cells become insulin-resistant: it can and should be treated with nutrition and lifestyle modifications. In fact, I believe that a protocol of wellness that incorporates nourishing foods, weight loss and an active lifestyle can reverse the effects of diabetes and enable patients to stay away from medication (for those with Type 2 diabetes).
The rise of obesity rates, diets based on processed convenience foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle amongst Canadians is the likely storm contributing to our disturbing epidemic.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system is not functioning properly and attacks the cells that produce insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, cells become insulin-resistant so that, when left untreated, patients experience elevated blood sugars.
Untreated Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney problems. Symptoms can include thirst, increased hunger, increased frequency of urination, fatigue, weight changes and heart problems. It is not unusual for patients to also experience numbness and tingling in the limbs.
Treating diabetes with a naturopathic doctor means reducing insulin resistance, regulating blood sugar, achieving a healthy weight and preventing any complications. This is all possible, and I have worked with hundreds of people to put their diabetes symptoms into remission, their blood sugar levels stable. Here are a few ways you can adjust your life to take care your body.
Reduce Carbohydrates and Simple Sugars
You need to change your diet in order to stabilize your blood sugars and this involves avoiding all of the foods that are known to create a spike: white bread, white rice, white potato and white sugar. There are many ways to eat a healthy and enjoyable diet. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, and replace snack foods like chips and baked treats with heart-friendly nuts and seeds.
Regular Physical Activity
You need to move in order to strengthen the functioning of your major organs, achieve and maintain a healthy weight. There is a correlation between obesity and diabetes and it is crucial that people suffering from diabetes reduce excess weight so they can have healthy blood sugar levels in a body that has achieved a weight that allows them to operate optimally. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. Walking is a great low-impact exercise to begin with.
Herb and minimal supplementation, prescribed by a naturopath, can help improve blood sugar levels in diabetics. Chromium supplementation has been shown to be safe and effective without significant side effects, as has supplementing with the herb gymnema sylvestre. A simple and yet powerful kitchen staple has also been shown to be highly effective in stabilizing blood sugar levels -- find ways to incorporate more cinnamon in your diet. I have also seen reports that have suggested green tea is a beneficial drink, and a great alternative to coffee, which can be too inflammatory for the diabetic body.
Diabetes is the most simple condition to reverse through a healthy lifestyle. Let's be moderately alarmed by these latest reports and use this as an opportunity to talk about supporting ourselves, and others, in achieving and maintaining healthy weight, diets rich in beneficial nutrients and a protocol for diabetes treatment that supports long-term healing.
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