A recent news report read: The aging of the baby boomer generation, combined with increased obesity and more sedentary lifestyles in the general population, is creating a diabetes explosion. If current trends continue, the estimated number of diabetes cases in America is expected to grow from the current 18.2 million to more than 30 million by the year 2030. The implications for our health care system are truly frightening, with a significant impact on health costs and public policy. Health experts agree with the report – type 2 diabetes is the result of poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and inadequate intake of a variety of nutrients.
The form of diabetes we're talking about is type 2 diabetes. It used to be called "adult-onset diabetes" because it usually develops later in life, particularly as people approach their 50s and 60s. Abnormally high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood is the defining characteristic of diabetes. A person with a fasting blood glucose level of 126 or higher is considered a diabetic.
If you find that you fatigue easily, are often thirsty, have an increased appetite or need to urinate often, you may have diabetes. Other signs could include blurry vision and irritability. These signs shouldn't be ignored and you should see your healthcare provider immediately and have your blood sugar level tested. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, keep in mind: There are things you can do to control your blood sugar level. Along with exercise and a nutritious diet, natural supplements can help – and even perhaps keep you off medication. But it's important not to take just any supplement – it should be a balanced supplement with the proper amounts of various vitamins and minerals, herbs and fibers.
THE VITAMIN/MINERAL COMPONENT
Vitamins and minerals are essential to virtually all life functions including blood sugar regulation. The key ingredients in this category that can help balance your blood sugar level are the minerals chromium, vanadium, magnesium and zinc. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably need higher levels of these nutrients.
Every cell in the body depends on glucose for energy. Derived primarily from complex carbohydrates, like starch, in our diet, glucose is carried from the intestinal tract to your body's cells by the blood. In order for glucose to pass into the cells a hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas, must be present. If insulin is not present, or if it is not functioning properly, glucose will not be transported into the body's cells. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is still able to produce insulin but the body's cells become less and less responsive to it. Therefore, unlike type 1 diabetics (who are dependent upon daily insulin shots because their pancreas cannot produce the hormone), type 2 diabetics do not usually have to take insulin injections but can regulate their blood glucose levels by making lifestyle modifications – exercising more, eating a proper diet and using medications or nutritional supplements.
Chromium is an essential mineral that increases the effectiveness of insulin and helps sugar, or glucose, to get into body cells. Without chromium, insulin will not work properly. Most diets supply only about 30 micrograms of chromium per day, but persons who are diabetic may need many times that amount to effectively regulate their blood sugar levels.
Vanadium is a little different in its activity. Studies consistently show that it has an insulin-like effect. In other words, vanadium functions very much like insulin by helping to drive glucose into the cells. It also helps your insulin work better. Magnesium is another key mineral needed for proper blood sugar metabolism, yet research suggests a substantial number of people are at risk for magnesium deficiency. Magnesium increases insulin sensitivity, making it easier for all the cells of your body to absorb and utilize glucose.
Finally, zinc is another amazing mineral that is very effective in helping to control blood sugar levels. In animal models, zinc can prevent experimentally-induced diabetes, and in human diabetics zinc is needed to protect against tissue damage caused by free radicals.
THE HERBAL COMPONENT
In His abundant plant kingdom, God has created natural remedies that can help control diabetes. These remedies come in the form of pure plant extracts and have been used for centuries by people from North and South America, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean to lower blood sugar levels. Herbs that have been found to be particularly effective include: gymnema, bitter melon, American ginseng and milk thistle.
Gymnema is a bushy plant that grows in India. In one study, participants who had an average blood sugar level of 232 were put on 400 milligrams of a gymnema extract. By the end of the study, their blood sugar levels dropped to an average of 152. That's a very dramatic drop. In another study, five out of 22 people that were put on gymnema were able to completely go off their prescription medication.
Bitter melon is a common, shrub-like plant that grows in India, Asia, South America and Africa. Certain components of bitter melon have structural similarities to insulin. Studies show that people who take bitter melon, particularly when combined with gymnema, see a drop in their blood sugar levels because of more effective glucose transport into body cells.
American ginseng is the Western counterpart to the more commonly known ginsengs from China and Korea. Extracts of American ginseng have been shown in carefully controlled clinical trials to significantly reduce blood sugar elevations after eating. This effect is seen in both normal and diabetic subjects.
Another beneficial herb is milk thistle. Known more as a liver cleanser and detoxifier, milk thistle has also been shown to decrease fasting blood sugar levels as well as levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (or HbA1c), a measure of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months.
As you can see, all four of these herbs can be very effective on their own in regulating your blood sugar levels. However, working in conjunction with each other, there can be even more dramatic results.
THE FIBER COMPONENT
Fiber – soluble fiber in particular – has been shown to be very effective in regulating blood sugar levels. There is a tremendous amount of research on the effect of fiber in controlling diabetes. Soluble fiber helps prevent, or slow down, the absorption of simple carbohydrates like sugars from the intestinal tract. Slower absorption means that you don't get dangerous blood sugar and insulin spikes. One type of soluble fiber, glucomannan, comes from the root of the konjac plant that grows in Japan. It's very, very impressive in its ability to bind, or tie up, sugars in the GI tract and prevent absorption.
Another type of fiber, found exclusively in my Blood Sugar Program and consisting of 8 different fiber extracts, is called Absorbalean. One of the most beneficial fibers in Absorbalean is from oats. We now have the ability to actually take a concentrate from oats and put it in tablet form. Of course, that doesn't mean you need to give up your bowl of cereal in the morning. It simply means that you can also take it in supplement form, along with other types of fiber.
YOUR PATHWAY TO HEALING
Get started on your Pathway to Healing and diabetes prevention by beginning with the simplest things first: Supplement your diet with the proper combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs and fiber that I have mentioned. Secondly, limit your intake of refined sugars, such as cookies, pastries and sodas, and also saturated fats, such as fatty red meat. You should also increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish. Finally, adopt an exercise program that includes at least 30 minutes a day of brisk walking or some other moderate physical activity. We have the knowledge we need to prevent and control type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, many people are not willing to make the necessary changes in their lives to control this dreadful disease, but I'm hoping you'll say "NO" to the prospect of diabetes and instead choose a Pathway to Healing.