Another Look at Type II Diabetes
By: Dr. Natasha Vani B.Sc., M.Sc., N.D.
THE DISTURBING FACTS
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada there are over 2.4 million Canadians living with diabetes. More disturbing is that despite an increase in knowledge and the amount of nutritious food choices available, along with more stringent food labelling, Canadians continue to make poor lifestyle choices — resulting in greater incidents of diabetes each year.
In 2011, according to Statistics Canada, diabetes was ranked as the sixth leading cause of death. However any health professional will tell you that most diabetics do not die of the disease. Rather, diabetics die of the complications related to diabetes. Diabetes would be at the top of the rankings if you factored in deaths related to diabetes – ahead of heart disease and stroke.
Furthermore, if you also factored in the decreased quality of life related to diabetes: nerve damage, leg amputations, blindness and fungal infections, diabetes should be considered a significant medical condition. Aside from being told your blood sugar is high, being told to take a drug, and given limited and often inaccurate dietary advice, we seem to have this laissez faire attitude towards diabetes.
The Amazing News: Type II diabetes is almost completely linked to obesity stemming from poor nutrition and inactivity – two lifestyle factors that we control ourselves.
IMPROVING YOUR NUTRITION
When it comes to diet, most people are aware you simply need to cut back on sugar, excess carbs and high glycemic index foods. Another way to remember: reduce your intake of anything ending in –ol or -ose. For example: dextrose, glucose, lactose, mannitol, mannose, sorbitol, sucrose, xylitol. (Cellulose is ok).
Start reading your food labels!
INCREASE YOUR EXERCISING: THE BEST NATURAL DRUG!
Exercise! You are already know it’s good for you, but here’s what you might now know. The recommendation to exercise is not only to burn calories, assist weight loss and improve cardiovascular health. The lesser known reason why every diabetic in particular should exercise is because of the effect it has on our GLUT4 glucose transporters. In a nutsheel, GLUT4 transporters are primarily found in adipose tissues and striated muscle (skeletal and cardiac). When insulin binds to the cell receptor this causes a sequence of events which allow these transporters to travel to the cell surface almost creating a passage whereby glucose can enter the cell. PLEASE NOTE: Exercise, our “miracle drug” also has this effect, meaning in addition to insulin promoting the movement of glucose into a cell, exercise also has the ability to promote this same effect.
Does this mean you need to take less insulin if you exercise? Potentially, yes.
Does this mean that exercise will help you if you have been told you have high blood sugar but not necessarily diagnosed with diabetes? Yes.
Type II diabetes is a condition whereby your cells become less responsive to the insulin you do produce- insulin resistance- as a result your pancreas thinks you need more insulin so it produces more and more eventually exhausting itself out- which is why some type II diabetics eventually need insulin.
Bottom line: exercise can decrease the amount of insulin you need and help save your pancreas.
There are a number of beneficial supplements that are specifically indicated for type II diabetics. Here are just a few of my favourites:
Chromium is considered a blood-glucose stabilizing molecule. It enhances insulin binding and reduces insulin requirements. Chromium is recommended for all diabetic patients; a very safe supplement that has been shown to significantly lower hemoglobin A1c. It is the number one supplement for individuals demonstrating poor blood sugar control.
(Hemoglobin A1c is the blood test used to determine how well your diabetes is being controlled. It provides an average of your blood sugar control over a 6 to 12 week period).
ALA is an antioxidant that is made by the body and is found in every cell. It helps turn glucose into energy. In diabetics ALA appears to lower blood sugar levels and is highly recommended for individuals demonstrating peripheral neuropathy which include pain, burning, itching, tingling, and/or numbness in the arms and legs.
Magnesium is an excellent mineral that is often deficient in the general population but especially in diabetics. Not only does magnesium help increase energy, it also acts as a smooth muscle relaxant and is very helpful in the treatment of hypertension and arteriosclerosis as it is protective against coronary artery spasm.
THE FINAL WORD
Diabetics have the opportunity to take positive control over their health. However, before taking a supplement, drastically changing your diet and/or beginning an exercise program, consult your medical or naturopathic doctor as well as check your blood sugar regularly. The added effects of these interventions along with your current medication will most likely result in lower blood sugar and hopefully a lowering of your medication.
Dr. Natasha Vani is a naturopathic doctor and an exercise physiologist. She targets many conditions within general family practice, and aims to assist individuals in the management and prevention of disease, as well as in the attainment of optimal well-being.