Sweets for my Sweet, Sugar for my Honey… Nothing is sweeter than Life itself!

Diabetes has severe implications on our countries health care system as more cases are added daily for long term management. Let’s take a closer look:

The following criteria are followed for diagnosing diabetes:

  1. Fasting (overnight): serum glucose (blood sugar) concentration greater than or equal to 140mg/dl on at least 2 separate occasions
  2. Following ingestion of 75g of glucose: serum glucose concentration greater than or equal to 200mg/dl at 2 hours post-ingestion and at least one other sample during the 2 hour test
  3. Classic symptoms of increased appetite and thirst (cravings) and increased urination.

Diabetes is divided into 2 groups: IDDM (Type 1, Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) and NIDDM (Type 2, Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus). Type 1 occurs most often in children and adolescents and Type 2 usually has an onset after 40 years of age BUT our modern sedentary lifestyle has changed the picture for the worst.

Patients with Type 1 diabetes can experience hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia. Signs of hypogycaemia are hunger, sweating, dizziness, confusion, palpitations and numbness or tingling of the lips. If not treated – add double vision, trembling and disorientation. One of the signs of hyperglycaemia is the inability to keep down fluids. Other signs include loss of hair on the legs, increased facial hair, small yellow bumps (xanthomas) anywhere on the body, flulike symtoms and balanoposthitis.

Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and loss of nerve function. It can occur when the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin. The blood sugar can’t get into the cells and this leads to complications: Acute (Hypoglycaemia, diabetic Ketoacidosis, Non-Ketogenic Hyperosmolar Syndrome) and/or Chronic (Diabetic Retinopathy, Diabetic Nephropathy, Diabetic Foot Ulcers, Diabetic Neuropathy and Atherosclerosis). The 2 primary mechanisms that cause the development of most chronic complications are glycosylated proteins and the intracellular accumulation of sorbitol.

Proper and effective natural treatment of the diabetic patient requires the careful integration of diet, nutritional supplements, lifestyle changes and botanical medicine. Consult a registered professional for regimental therapy. A multi disciplinary – and close monitoring approach must be followed to obtain the best results while managing the disease.

Nutritional supplementation is used as part of a comprehensive approach in which diet remains the primary focus. Diabetics have a great need for supplementation as we need to control blood sugar and prevent or ameliorate major complications. Supplements to consider : Chromium, Niacin and Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Biotin, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Carnitine, Inositol,  Flavenoids (Quercetin) and Essential Fatty Acids (provide GLA in the form of borage, evening primrose, black currant oils).

My field of expertise: Botanical Medicine. Medicinal herbs can provide safe, stable, standardized and efficacious preparations. The most important plant in my treatment regime of Type 2 DM is the Pterocarpus Marsupian (Red Kino Tree/ Vijayasar). It supports Insulin function. A potent flavonoid (epicatechin) in this tree has been shown to help protect and regenerate beta cells in the pancreas and have a reduction in blood glucose levels. My product of choice is Diabesol (Nutrissential Range obtainable at selected pharmacies in SA). Allium cepa (Onion extract), Alliun sativum (Garlic), Memordica charantia (Bitter Melon), Trigonella foenumgraecum (Fenugreek), Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry) and Gymnema Sylvestre are some of the most effective and least toxic plants to consider in any treatment regime. Always consult a registered phytotherapist / medical herbalist as contra indications exists.

Diet is an important part of treatment but quite complex and individualised. Consult a Dietician for a full assessment. In short: Type 1 Diabetes: Eat meals on a regimented schedule, monitor food portions and calories (proper dose of insulin to be determined), measure glucose levels regularly and for ‘’Brittle Diabetics” – a few bites can make the difference between normal glucose levels and levels that are out of control. Type 2 Diabetes: the advice was to eat a low-fat, high-starch and moderate-protein diet. This is controversial Studies indicated that large amounts of starch can raise insulin levels, worsening the condition. Insulin is not a benign substance. In excessive amounts it raises cholesterol and blood pressure and increases body fat. Thus – diabetics must restrict dietary fat and monitor their intake of both simple and complex carbohydrates. Add loads of fibre to your diet as this helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Snack on oat or rice bran crackers with nut butter or cheese. Consume legumes, root vegetables and whole grains.

Exercise regularly. Maintain a healthy weight and monitor body fat percentage (women: 22-24 percent / men: 15-17 percent). Obesity contributes to long term health problems experienced by people with diabetes. Avoid exercise during episode of hypoglycaemia. It is said that exercise improves chromium metabolism and increase the number of insulin receptors in IDDM patients.

For more information on the author please visit http://www.naturalmed.co.za/

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