This month, our Sussex health expert takes a look at Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).
Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is frequently diagnosed in asymptomatic patients during a routine medical examination. It is progressively regarded as a “lifestyle” disease and can frequently be controlled or even reversed with changes in diet, weight and level of activity.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Fungal and bacterial infection
- Itching due to vaginal yeast infection
Late complications of diabetes include: heart disease, infections, skin ulcers, kidney disease, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, impotence, constipation, pain and poor circulation in the legs, vision loss.
Eating carbohydrate-containing foods, whether high in sugar or high in starch (such as bread, potatoes, processed breakfast cereals, and rice) will temporarily raise blood sugar and insulin levels. The blood sugar–raising effect of a food – its “glycaemic index” – depends on how rapidly its carbohydrate is absorbed. Many starchy foods have a glycaemic index similar to table sugar (sucrose). Eating large amounts of foods with a high glycaemic index has a tendency to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, eating a diet high in carbohydrate-rich foods with a low glycaemic index is associated with a low risk of type 2 diabetes. Beans, peas, fruit, and oats all have a low glycaemic index, despite their high carbohydrate content, due mostly to the health-promoting effects of soluble fibre.
A diet naturally high in fibre – such as leafy green vegetables, porridge and nuts and seeds – has been shown to work well in controlling blood sugar. Additionally, people eating a high-fibre diet will generally benefit from significant reductions in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. High-fibre supplements, such as psyllium, guar gum (found in cluster beans), pectin (from fruit), oat bran, and glucomannan, can all improve glucose tolerance. Positive results have also been reported with the daily consumption of powdered fenugreek seeds.
Vegetarians are believed to have a low risk of type 2 diabetes. When people with diabetic neurological damage switch to a vegan diet, improvements have been reported after only several days.
Diets high in saturated fat worsen glucose tolerance and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. (Saturated fat is found primarily in meat, dairy fat and the dark meat and skins of poultry). In contrast, glucose intolerance has been improved by diets high in mono-unsaturated oils; such as extra virgin olive oil (which also has high antioxidant properties); and avocados.
Several studies have looked at the effects of a very low-calorie diet on T2D. Two had people follow a mostly liquid diet of 625-850 calories a day for 2-5 months, followed by a less restricted diet designed to help them maintain their weight loss. Both studies found that nearly half the people who took part reversed their diabetes and kept their blood glucose near the normal range.
Some studies have also shown that intermittent fasting can help reverse type 2 diabetes. This consisted of two or three 24-hour fasts each week for several months, eating only a light dinner on days they fasted, and lunch and dinner on no-fast days, focusing on low-carbohydrate meals.
Sugavida is a pure sugar alternative that is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. Because it has a very low glycaemic index it is suitable for people with type 2 diabetes as a sugar alternative. It is a natural source of vitamin B12 and is also rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium.
Research shows that the most consistently effective way to control or reverse type 2 diabetes is to lose weight. Excess abdominal fat makes the body less sensitive to insulin. Exercise helps to decrease body fat and improve insulin sensitivity; and reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Which in itself is a great reason to get out and enjoy some of our Sussex countryside.
Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing T2D. People with T2D who smoke are at higher risk for kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and other diabetes-linked problems. Smokers are also more likely to develop diabetes.
Nutritional supplement treatment options
Chromium* has been shown to improve glucose levels in people with type 2, gestational, and steroid-induced diabetes. Chromium supplements improve glucose tolerance in people with type 2 diabetes by increasing sensitivity to insulin. Chromium improves the processing of glucose in people with pre-diabetic glucose intolerance and in women with diabetes associated with pregnancy.
Chromium may also lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (potential risk factors in cardiovascular disease).
*Supplementation with chromium could potentially enhance the effects of drugs used for diabetes (e.g., insulin or other blood sugar-lowering agents) and should therefore be used under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner
Magnesium – People with type 2 diabetes tend to have low magnesium levels, which is associated with insulin resistance. Adequate magnesium is required to regulate blood sugar levels.
Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful natural antioxidant and has been shown in double-blind trials to improve insulin sensitivity and the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Evening primrose oil has been found in double-blind research to improve nerve function and to relieve pain symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Vitamin E has been shown in double-blind trials to improve glucose tolerance in people with type 2 diabetes. Vitamin E appears to lower the risk of cerebral infarction in people with diabetes who smoke.
Vitamin C lowers sorbitol levels in people with diabetes. Sorbitol accumulates inside the cells and damages the eyes, nerves, and kidneys of people with diabetes. Vitamin C supplementation has also been found to significantly reduce urinary protein loss in people with diabetes.
Biotin is a B vitamin required for glucose metabolism. Biotin can help reduce fasting glucose levels in people with T2D. Biotin may also reduce pain from diabetic neurological damage.
Vitamin B12 has been shown to reduce symptoms of neurological damage caused by diabetes in repeated studies.
Coenzyme Q10 is needed for normal blood sugar metabolism. In one trial, blood sugar levels fell substantially in 31% of people with diabetes after they supplemented with CoQ10.
L-carnitine is an amino acid needed to properly utilize fat for energy. Carnitine prescribed to people with diabetes has been shown to significantly lower high blood levels of fats – both cholesterol and triglycerides.
Vitamin D is needed to maintain adequate blood levels of insulin. Vitamin D receptors have been found in the pancreas where insulin is made, and preliminary evidence suggests that supplementation can improve some measures of blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Inulin is a dietary fibre and a prebiotic (feeds the gut bacteria). It has been shown to reduce fatty deposit in the liver, reduce insulin resistance and reduce fasting blood sugar levels in people with T2D.
Botanical treatment options
Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fibre, which helps lower blood sugar by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Fenugreek is also believed to contain a substance that stimulates insulin production and improves blood sugar control.
Psyllium supplementation has been shown to be a safe and well-tolerated way to improve control of blood glucose and cholesterol.
Panax Ginseng is commonly used to treat diabetes. It has been shown to enhance the release of insulin from the pancreas and to increase the number of insulin receptors. It is also used to increase energy levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon (Ceylon) reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and regulate insulin production.
Bilberry may lower the risk of some diabetic complications, such as diabetic cataracts and retinopathy.
Article contributed by Dr Tracy S Gates, DO, DIBAK, L.C.P.H., Consultant, Pure Bio Ltd, a leading UK supplier of the highest quality PURE nutritional supplements, based in Horsham, West Sussex. Visit www.purebio.co.uk for all your nutritional supplement needs.
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