Preventing or Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
Jun 03, 2013 04:51PM
● By Mia Darling
Americans are succumbing to type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. Currently, 1 in 4 people are diabetic or prediabetic. To make matters worse, the United Health Center for Health Reform estimates that by 2020, 50 percent of adults in this country could be type 2 diabetics. Though these statics are shocking, the most amazing—and positive—statistic of all is that nearly 100 percent of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or reversed by empowering people with the information to make specific lifestyle changes.
What is Diabetes?
Many believe the answer to that question is an easy one. After all, everyone knows that diabetes means you have high blood sugar. Therefore, the typical treatment approach is to prescribe medications (insulin, for example) to lower the blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone naturally found in the body that helps sugar get inside the body’s cells (rather than remaining in the blood and reeking havoc as is the case in diabetes) so that it can be properly used for energy.
Based on that logic, we would assume that people with diabetes must not make enough insulin, but this is not the case until the very late stages of the disease. In type 2 diabetes, the body is producing much more insulin than is typically needed, as the cells have lost their ability to see the insulin. The problem is that the increased insulin promotes more fat storage and makes the cells even less likely to see the insulin over time, creating a vicious cycle. As blood sugars go unregulated, individuals are more at risk for complications of diabetes, including hypertension, heart disease, decreased circulation, infections, stroke, cancers and more.
So, consider this: perhaps a better definition of diabetes is that it is a disease of mismatched insulin and leptin signaling. Leptin is a protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure. Therefore, we should actually be addressing this mismatch and fixing the underlying issue rather than trying to treat the symptom.
Reverse or Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
If only we had the information to prevent disease before it starts rather than being told, “Your blood sugar is high. Here is a prescription for the medication to help.” The good news is that the information is out there, and no matter what stage of type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or prevention one is in, there are powerful things that we can do to take control of our health.
Resetting our insulin and leptin signaling doesn’t come in the form of a medication, but rather in the form of a lifestyle. The following list of actions will assist this process and jumpstart the quest to remain diabetes free or begin to gain better control of blood sugar. It is important for individuals to work with a healthcare professional if they are considering changes in diet, activity level or medications.
- Exercise. This is a must and is one of the best ways to help cells respond to insulin once again. Interval training offers the greatest benefit.
- Limit grains and sugars, fructose in particular. Fructose breaks down differently than glucose in the body, promoting weight gain and insulin resistance.
- Know your fasting insulin level. This blood test measures a cell’s ability to respond to insulin and is an early indicator of diabetes development.
- Got vitamin D? Everyone should optimize their level by getting a blood test and then supplementing, if necessary.
- Restore gut health. Something as simple as the right probiotic can help to restore digestive health, which aids insulin signaling.
- Consider targeted support. A variety of natural supplements, both herbal and nutritional, can help reset insulin sensitivity. In addition, chelation is a proven method to help reverse advanced diabetic complications, such as decreased circulation and poor wound healing.
Remember, the body is incredibly resilient. Simple, targeted changes can dramatically impact our health in this moment and add to both the quality and longevity of life.
Mia Darling received her training and Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. She practices at Maulfair Medical Center, 2970 Corporate Ct., Ste. 1, Orefield. For more information, call 484-272-2055 or visit MiaDarlingND.com.