If you or a loved one have not been diagnosed with diabetes, the disturbing statistics invoke fear of the possibility. The American Diabetes Association reported that 7.8% of America’s population had diabetes in 2007. Each year 1.6 million are diagnosed.
Diabetes is a gateway to various complications such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy disease (nervous system), and amputation. Although diabetics are high risk for such complications, the disease itself is preventive and in many cases reversible.
Diabetics are unable to properly produce or use insulin (the hormone regulates sugar out of the blood and into the cells). The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin. When insulin production malfunctions blood-sugar levels spike. This could lead to what is known as a diabetic coma or even death.
Juvenile diabetes, developed between childhood and early adulthood, is classified as Type I diabetes or insulin dependent. Type II diabetes, non-insulin-dependent, typically occurs in adults after the age of forty and those overweight. Type II diabetes is a lifestyle-related disease and can be controlled and even reversed. Your family practitioner can determine insulin needs and diet adjustments.
Limiting foods high in carbohydrates (synonymous with sugar) will aid in regulating insulin levels. High-carbohydrate foods are starchy foods like breads, pastas, rice, chips, potatoes, and sweets. Adding more fresh vegetables and proteins from legumes/beans, nuts, and even fish is also beneficial.
Although legumes contain starch, they are also rich in protein and fiber which help to balance blood sugar. As fiber swells in the digestive tract, it slows down the absorption of sugar. Psyllium is a bulk fiber that can be taken before each meal. Ways to incorporate beans are with chili, burritos, and adding chickpeas/kidney beans to salads.
Exercise such as walking plays a key role not only in weight loss and maintenance but also in lowing blood sugar and promoting good circulation.
Blood vessels can be damaged by excess sugars and fat in the blood stream, making it important for diabetics to maintain a healthy blood circulation. Good blood circulation ensures that oxygen reaches all organs. Oxygen prevents complications such as kidney disease, blindness, etc.
Foods that have blue and purple pigments, known as anthocyanosides, such as blueberries and bilberries, help to improve circulation and protect blood vessel walls.
For borderline diabetics, the herb golden seal not only fights infections but lowers blood sugar levels. While using golden seal it is best to work closely with your health practitioner to monitor and adjust your insulin requirement.