Helping the body: Diabetes

Diabetes is the disease when the body can’t produce or properly use insulin, the hormone produced by our pancreas to control the glucose (sugar) level in the blood stream and the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the cells.

Every cell in the body needs sugar as a source of energy.  The level of glucose might be maintained at a certain minimum for the brain to function normally, since the brain’s only food is glucose. After eating food which contains carbohydrates or protein, the blood sugar normally rises which leads to release of insulin by cells in the pancreas. Release of insulin helps body cells extract glucose from the blood. In the diabetes, either the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or the body cells develop a resistance to the action of insulin. As a result, glucose doesn’t enter the body cells, and stays elevated in the blood stream.

Because all human body tissues need a steady supply of glucose, diabetes can affect every organ. If it’s not controlled, diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, edema, nerve damage, and infections of the mouth, gums, lungs, skin, feet, bladder, and genital areas. Adults with diabetes have strokes and fatal heart attacks two to four times as often as people with no diabetes. Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure and blindness.

More than 18 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

There are 2 major types of diabetes: type 1 (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus {IDDM}), and type 2 (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus {NIDDM}).

Type 1 is autoimmune disease in which immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas which leads to low amount of produced insulin. It affects 5 to 10 percent of people with diabetes and usually starts at an early age.

Type 2 is more common and develops usually in later years. In this form, the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, which causes blood sugar level to go up. This leads the pancreas to produce even more insulin. By years, the insulin resistance grows stronger exhausting the pancreas from making extra insulin. At this time, blood sugar levels rise well above normal and symptoms begin.¦

The risk factors for type 2 diabetes:

          Age (risk increases with the age);


          High blood pressure;

          High level of triglycerides;

          Family history;

          Ethnicity (African-Americans, American Indians, Alaska natives, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Hispanics have higher risk than Caucasians);

          Birth weight of less than 5.5 pounds or more than 9 pounds;

◊          History of diabetes in pregnancy, or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds;

          Inactivity (exercising less than 3 times a week).

Unfortunately, the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes may not be noticeable. It’s estimated that almost 6 million North Americans may have type 2 diabetes, but don’t know about it. Adults over the age of 50 should have their blood sugar levels tested at least every 2 years, or much often if they ‘re overweight or have a family history.

The home test can help you detest an impaired disability to taste sweets (dosage is measured for adults):

  1. Avoid taking any stimulants (coffee, tea, soda, sweets) one hour before the test;
  2. Fill up 7 identical glasses with 8 ounces of water each, label the glasses as having no sugar, ¼ teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 3 teaspoons, and add sugar to the glasses according to labels. Ask somebody else to rearrange the glasses and hide the labels.
  3. Using a straw sip from each glass and write down your suggestions about amount of sugar you think is added to the glass. Rinse your mouth with pure water between sips. Healthy people usually notice less than 1 teaspoon of sugar added to the glass of water; people with type 2 diabetes most likely to notice sweetness not unless 1 ½ or 2 teaspoons have been added to the glass.


Preventing Type 2 diabetes:

–          Exercise Exercising helps reduce body needs for insulin by keeping excess weight in check and increases the efficiency of insulin action on the cells. Exercised muscles use glucose to make energy naturally helping lower the sugar level in your body. Select an exercise you like and try to do it at least once a day. It is important to get the same amount of exercise every day. Even modest physical activity improves blood sugar control.

–          Maintain a healthy weight Obesity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. If you weigh 10 percent more than is recommended for your build, you need to start a weight –loss program under your doctor supervision. Researchers found that those who lost modest amount of weight cut their diabetes risk by 58 percent. People over the age of 60 cut their risk even more. Losing just 5 percent of body weight enough to make a difference.

–          Eat well Consuming 20 to 25 grams of dietary fiber will reduce your chance of getting type 2 diabetes. As important as what you eat is how much you eat and when. Avoid eating large meals or skipping meals.


Recommendations for people with type 2 diabetes:

Eat a low-fat high fiber diet including raw vegetables and fruits, as well as fresh vegetable juices. For snacks, eat oat or rice bran crackers with nut butter or cheese. Legumes, root vegetables, and whole grains are good also. The types of carbohydrates are important. Some carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into your blood stream quickly, while others are digested and converted to blood glucose more slowly. The glycemic index (GI) measures the effect on blood glucose of a carbohydrate food. Prefer low-glycemic food over the high- glycemic. Carbohydrates found in low-GI foods such as asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, and low-starch vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and oranges convert into blood glucose more slowly which raises insulin level gradually. Examples of high-GI food: white rice, white flour products, pasta, starchy vegetables, and many processed foods. They are quickly converted into blood sugar and cause insulin level to go up quickly.

 Choosing Low-GI over Hi-GI

Foods that help normalize blood sugar include spirulina, berries, brewer’s yeast, dairy products (especially cheese), egg yolks, fish, garlic, kelp, sauerkraut, soybeans, and vegetables. According to the herbal medicine, those might be helpful for diabetes: bilberry, dandelion root (don’t take large amounts if you have gallbladder problems), juniper berries, ginseng tea (it’s not for people with high blood pressure), cedar berries, fenugreek seeds. Beanpod tea, made up of kidney, lima, white, navy beans, might be helpful with diabetes because it detoxifies the pancreas. Cinnamon capsules may be a possible and pleasant treatment for diabetes. In a small study, it was shown that taking 1-2 teaspoons a day in a capsule form may reduce blood sugar level, triglycerides, and cholesterol. The continuous ingestion of table cinnamon, however, may be not advisable because of potential toxic buildup of certain cinnamon compounds.

◊ Get your protein from vegetable sources, such as grains and legumes, as well as from fish and low-fat dairy sources. Soy protein helps people with diabetes improve kidney function.

◊ Avoid saturated fats, trans-fats, and partially hydrogenated oils, and simple sugars. Beneficial fats and oils include extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, almond oil and butter, nuts, and seed oils such as sesame, flax, sunflower and pumpkin.

◊ Eat more complex carbohydrates or reduce your insulin dosage before exercising. Exercise produces an insulin-like reaction in the body.

◊ Avoid tobacco in any form. It constricts the vessels and inhibits the circulation.

◊ Cut back on soft drinks that contain sugar. Even when other risk factors were factored in, researchers still found that the soft-drink group was 1.3 times more likely to develop the disease.

◊ Chromium deficiency was associated with reduced glucose tolerance. Chromium is found in foods like whole bran, whole grains, chicken breast, and mushrooms. Processed and refined foods such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and sugar and sweets contain very little chromium.

◊ A higher magnesium intake can lower the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. A diet rich in nuts, whole grains, and vegetables may be beneficial.

◊ It is vital for people with diabetes to take care of their feet. Keep your feet clean, dry and warm, and wear only white cotton socks and well-fitting shoes.

◊ People with diabetes should be careful about their blood fat and cholesterol. LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) should be less than 130. HDL (“good” cholesterol) should be 60 or above. Triglycerides – 150, or under.  Check it with your doctor who can give you individual recommendations.