Alternative Treatments for Diabetes

>> Sunday, July 31, 2011

Alternative Treatments for Diabetes

Each day, some 12 million diabetics in this world walk a tightrope between too little sugar in the bloodstream and too much. Too little- which may come from a complication of medication- and they may quickly be overcome by dizziness, fatigue, headache, sweating, trembling, and in severe cases, loss of consciousness, and coma. Too much which can happen after eating too much, especially if the person may experience weakness, fatigue, excessive thirst, labored breathing, and loss of consciousness. Left untreated, the picture is bleak: blindness, kidney disease, blood vessel damage, infection, heart disease, nerve damage, high blood pressure, stroke, limb amputation and coma may result.

Because the initial symptoms (fatigue, weakness, frequent urination) are usually mild, half of all diabetics do not realize that they have the disease. And that’s real shame, because with the early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of living a long and productive life are higher than if the disease creeps along and undetected until irreversible problems set in.

If you are one of the lucky ones whose diabetes has been diagnosed by a doctor, you have an idea of what has gone awry in your body. The disorder stems from the way your body processes carbohydrates, which you take in through food. Normally, these foods are converted into a new form of sugar called “glucose”, which floats along in the bloodstream until the pancreas, a large gland located behind the stomach, goes into action. The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that signals body cells to soak up the glucose. Once inside the cell, the glucose is either used to produce heat or energy or is stored as fat. A person with diabetes produces little or no insulin o else becomes resistant to the hormone’s action and can’t compensate. Either way, the glucose can’t get into the cells; it accumulates in the blood and is later expelled in the urine. In short, blood sugar rises while cells starve.

Only about one-tenth of all diabetics have the severe form of the disease, called type1, which usually affects children and young adults and requires daily injections of insulin. Most have what doctors refer as type 2, or adult- onset diabetes. While about one-third of type2 do require insulin to control blood sugar, and another one-third use medications to increase insulin production, remaining type2 diabetics rely on non medical measures such as diet, weight loss and exercise to control their disease. No matter which group you fall into, you can benefit from taking an active role in your treatment. But don’t make a move without consulting your doctor first.

Here’s how:


The goal of dietary intervention for type 1 diabetes is to help minimize short and long term complications by normalizing blood sugar levels. The goal of dietary intervention for type 2 diabetes is to help the patient achieve and maintain normal body weight

· Raise carbohydrate intake to more than half of total calories. Every gram of carbohydrate provides four calories.

· Keep protein intake to 12-30 percent of total calorie. A gram of protein provides four calories as well.

· Lower fat intake to less than 30 percent of total calories and make every effort to substitute polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat for saturated fat. Each gram of fat provides nine calories, so go easy!

· Maintain cholesterol intake at less than 300 milligrams a day. Less saturated fat in the diet will automatically lead to reduced cholesterol.

· Include fiber in the diet; it should be part of as many meals as possible.


The traditional dogma for diabetes was this: avoid simple carbohydrate or simple sugars (such as table sugar) because they raise blood sugar quickly, and choose complex carbohydrates (such as starches, and fiber found in grains, potatoes, beans and peas) because they raise blood sugar more slowly. But this dogma has given was recently to newer rules, which is really aren’t rules at all in the strictest sense. Diabetic meal planning must account for many factors. A food eaten alone may affect blood sugar differently than when it is eaten with another food. The same variations can be noted with cooked foods versus raw foods and even with different foods that affect blood sugar differently in different people.

Consequently, while complex carbohydrates like lentils, soy beans, peanuts, and kidney beans are still best for causing the slowest and lowest rise in blood sugar after a meal.


Actually, there are a number of different kinds of sugar and each has potentially different effects on blood sugar levels. “The most basic form of sugar is glucose, or dextrose, which will raise blood sugar levels faster than any other kind when swallowed.

“Sucrose also tends to raise blood sugar almost as quickly as dextrose. But fructose, sometimes called fruit sugar, generally has a very mild effect on blood sugar. If your diabetes is in good control, diabetic desserts and candies sweetened with pure fructose are not likely to raise your blood sugar levels very much.


To emphasize the fact that excess weight is a type2 diabetic’s most serious problem, experts on diabetes are fond of saying that if you want to find out if there’s a possibility of getting diabetes, just keep on eating and get fat. You can do other things, too, but the main thing is get fat. An estimated 80 percent of those with type 2 diabetes are obese when diagnosed with the disease. Added weight can both accelerate the diabetes and bring on its complications, especially cardiovascular disease and stroke.


Too rapid weight loss rarely works in the long run and is potentially dangerous if undertaken without a doctor’s advice. Sometimes, a doctor will, in fact, prescribe a very low calorie diet to initiate weight loss, but only for a very short period of time gradually with a low fat, lower calorie, nutritionally balanced diet combined activity.


Three smaller meals a day- breakfast, lunch, and dinner-plus two or three snack-type meals in between is easier for the diabetic person’s insulin to handle. Just be sure that you don’t overshoot your calorie limit.


Neuropathy, damage to the nerves, is a common problem for diabetes. It occurs most often in the feet and legs, and its signs include repeated burning pain or numbness. Neuropathy can be dangerous if it cause a loss of feeling, because then even a minor foot injury may go undiscovered leading to a serious infection.


Regular exercise provides many benefits. It tones up the heart and other muscles. Strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, strengthen the respiratory system. Helps raise HDL (good cholesterol), gives a sense of well- being, decreases tension, aids in weight control and enhances work capacity and confers a sense of achievement. It promotes the movement of sugar from the bloodstream into cells, where it is burned for energy and it improves the cell’s ability to respond to insulin, thus decreasing their need for the hormone.


It’s a given that even in a diabetic whose disease appears to be totally under control, there will be occasional rapid and even violent swings in blood sugar levels, brought on by emotional or physical stresses, meals, medications, or even the time of day. But if they are anticipated and accepted, these episodes can be viewed as simply a bump in the road rather that a major detour.


While it’s important to learn as much as you can about your diabetes and stay with your treatment regimen, you also need to keep things in perspective. This is especially true for diabetics, who often get so caught up in their disease that it is difficult for them to focus on other, more positive aspects in life. Make a list of all things you would like to do at least some of them. Obviously, finishing a box of chocolates should not appear on this list, while staring into space may be an ideal up lifter for one person and napping the afternoon away does the same for another, straightening out a messy closet may do the trick for a third.


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