A disorder of sugar and fat metabolism, Type II diabetes frequently results after a long period of insulin resistance—the decreased ability of certain cells to recognize normal amounts of insulin, “tricking” the body into producing more insulin. Insulin is responsible for transporting sugar and protein into cells. Eventually, this over-production exhausts the cells in the pancreas that produce it, causing blood sugar to rise at constant, unhealthy levels; eventually resulting in a diagnosis of diabetes.
Left uncontrolled, those with diabetes can experience an array of symptoms. Because sugar isn’t getting into the cells for use as fuel, many experience severe tiredness and lethargy, as well as high blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar may lead to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, atherosclerosis, stroke, eye problems (including blindness), poor circulation, possible failure to heal and decreased resistance to infections, nerve damage, and irreversible kidney damage.
Weight loss and exercise will help decrease insulin resistance and lower blood sugar. A diet low in carbohydrates and saturated fats and high in protein is also key to reducing blood sugar levels (although this isn’t recommended for those with kidney damage). Supplements also help reduce blood sugar and prevent complications.
Preventing and treating diabetes and its complications requires a multi-faceted approach, one that includes diet, exercise, herb and nutrient supplementation, and sometimes pharmaceuticals. If you are taking any medications and plan to undertake another diabetes management program, monitor your blood glucose levels very closely and work with your physician to adjust the dosages of those medications as needed.
SUPPLEMENT GUIDE TO DIABETES MANAGEMENT:
MULTI-VITAMIN/MINERAL: Reduces a diabetic’s risk of infection by 80%.
CHROMIUM: Improves sensitivity to insulin, helps lower blood sugar. Recommendation: up to 1000 mcg/day.
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID: A strong antioxidant. Improves insulin sensitivity and prevents or slows kidney damage; also improves symptoms of diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain). Recommendation: 600-1200 mg/day.
MAGNESIUM: May improve insulin production in the elderly. Also shown to prevent diabetic retinopathy—a major cause of blindness. For those with normal kidney function. Recommendation: 200-600 mg/day
VITAMIN E: Those with low levels of vitamin E are more likely to develop diabetes. Shown to improve insulin resistance and decrease damage to nerves, eyes, and kidneys; also reduces chances of stroke. Recommendation: 800 IU/day.
VITAMIN C: Shown to have multiple benefits and especially effective when taken with vitamin E. Recommendation: 1-3 grams/day.
B VITAMINS (B1, B6, and B12): Shown to reduce blood sugar. B12 may significantly reduce nerve pain and improve nerve functioning when given orally at 500 mcg three/day. Biotin, another B vitamin, has profound benefits for many with diabetes when given at 16 mg/day for a few weeks; some people’s fasting blood sugar reduced by as much as 50%.
- PSYLLIUM helps reduce cholesterol, common among those with diabetes. Also lowers blood sugar levels.
- GYMNEMA stimulates the pancreas to secrete more insulin and increases sensitivity to insulin when given at 800 mg/day; found in many diabetes formulas.
- BILBERRY has strong antioxidant activity; has shown some profound results in lowering the incidence of cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.