It’s quite simple, really. As people become more immersed in the fast-pace of today’s world, less exercise and more ready-meals become the order of the day. This contributes to obesity and reduces the body’s ability to work optimally, leading to diabetes Type II, a disease with no cure.
did you know?
The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2030, more than 366 million people will be suffering from diabetes around the world, 10 times the number affected by HIV/AIDS
ONE OR TWO?
The term diabetes refers to the glucose levels in your blood – everyone has, and needs, glucose because that’s what creates energy in your body, but too high levels are dangerous. Your body gets glucose from the food you eat, and it’s also made in your liver and muscles.
Insulin is made by your pancreas and when it’s released into your blood stream, it helps glucose get into your cells – for energy production. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin or it’s not working optimally, the glucose in your bloodstream can’t get into your cells and so remains in your blood. This causes prediabetes or diabetes.
There’s a difference between Type I and Type II, however. Type I is usually diagnosed in children, teens or young adults and occurs when your pancreas stops making insulin because your body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed the cells involved in production. Treatment involves taking insulin, as well as specific diet and exercise and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.
With Type II, the disease is progressive and begins with your body resisting insulin – this is where your fat, muscle and liver cells stop using insulin adequately. Usually, your pancreas takes up the slack by producing more insulin, but it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin over time. Prediabetes is when your blood glucose levels are high, but not enough for a diagnosis to be made. It’s your body’s warning sign, however, that you’re at a high risk of developing Type II if you don’t make immediate lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, exercising and losing weight.
There’s also what’s known as gestational diabetes, which can develop during the late stages of pregnancy and occurs when pregnancy hormones cause a shortage of insulin. This type usually goes away once the pregnancy is over, but women who have experienced it are at a higher risk of developing Type II later in life.
did you know?
Smoking and excess drinking can damage your pancreas, upping your risk of developing Type II diabetes.
- There are numerous factors that contribute to your risk for diabetes Type II. Use this check list to ensure you don’t become a statistic:
- Weight The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells will become to insulin. Being overweight is the foremost risk factor for Type II diabetes.
- Fat distribution Where the fat in your body is stored makes a difference – your risk of developing Type II diabetes is greater if most of your fat is stored in your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs.
- Exercise Being inactive means your body isn’t usually able to use up the glucose in your cells, making your body more sensitive to insulin.
- Genetics If you have a sibling or parent with Type II diabetes, your risk is enhanced – so that’s all the more reason to ensure your lifestyle doesn’t include long sessions on the couch with fat-laden, non-nutrition processed food.
If you don’t manage diabetes or ignore it, the disease can lead to other health problems, some of which are life-threatening:
- Heart and blood vessel disease is dramatically increased in people with diabetes – in fact, the risk of a stroke is two to four times higher than people without the disease
- Nerve damage – excess sugar injures the walls of the tiny blood vessels that nourish nerves, especially in your legs. This causes numbness, burning, pain or tingling that usually begins at the tips of your toes and spreads upwards. For men, this action can also cause erectile dysfunction
- Kidney damage – because your kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood, they can be damaged because of diabetes
- Eye damage – once again, damage to blood vessels, in your retina can potentially lead to blindness
- Foot damage – the damaged nerve endings typical of diabetes can lead to infections from un-healed cuts or blisters and may lead to toe, foot or leg amputation
- Skin and mouth conditions – gum disease and bacterial or fungal infections are more prevalent in people with diabetes
- Osteoporosis – diabetes can lead to lowered bone mineral density, leading to osteoporosis
- Alzheimer’s disease – the heart problems caused by diabetes can contribute to Alzheimer’s by blocking blood flow to the brain or causing strokes. Also, too much insulin in the blood stream can lead to brain-damaging inflammation
Keeping your weight down to what’s normal for your age, height and skeletal structure is key. That, coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise should keep you from developing the disease. However, if you do develop it, you could be stepping into a lifetime of medication. And, diabetes Type II doesn’t just affect blood glucose and insulin. The condition can lead to a wide range of other health complications such as kidney damage, blood vessel thickening, nerve damage and pain. Below is an A-Z list of natural supplements shown to assist in reducing the symptoms of diabetes Type II – speak to your health professional about dosages that are right for you.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine has been shown to assist in reducing the symptoms of nerve damage.
- Aloe assists in lowering blood sugar levels.
- Alpha lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity and slows the progression of kidney damage.
- Basil Holy or hairy basil leaves and seeds may assist in controlling blood sugar levels.
- Bilberry is a powerful antioxidant and supports normal formation of connective tissues while strengthening capillaries, improving blood flow and preventing blood vessel thickening.
- Biotin (a B-vitamin) is needed by your body to process glucose.
- Bitter Melon has blood sugar lowering action.
- Cayenne contains capsicum which assists in relieving nerve pain.
- Coenzyme Q10 Is needed by your body for normal blood sugar metabolism. Supplementing has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes Type II.
- Evening Primrose Oil relieves pain symptoms.
- Fenugreek helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Glucomannan is a water soluble dietary fibre that delays stomach emptying, which ensures a more gradual absorption of sugar.
- Hibiscus is a traditional Indian remedy for diabetes, it’s usually taken as tea with 1-2 teaspoons of dried flowers in 1 cup of hot water three times daily.
- Inositol is needed by your body for normal nerve function.
- L-carnitine is an amino acid that’s needed for the proper utilisation of fat for energy.
- Magnesium People with type II diabetes often have low magnesium levels – supplementation improves insulin production.
- Mistletoe can stimulate insulin secretion from pancreas cells. It may improve blood sugar levels.
- Olive Leaf Extract could lower elevated blood sugar levels.
- Onion contains sulphur compounds and flavonoids – these have been shown to block the liver’s breakdown of insulin and may also stimulate insulin production by the pancreas, ultimately reducing blood sugar levels.
- Psyllium has a soluble fibre content that’s believed to improve blood sugar levels.
- Quercetin reduces levels of sorbitol, a sugar that accumulates in nerve cells, kidney cells and cells in your eyes.
- Vitamin B1 assists in reducing nerve damage.
- Vitamin B3 helps in controlling glucose intolerance.
- Vitamin B People with Type II diabetes have low levels of B, especially those also experiencing nerve damage. Supplementation can improve glucose tolerance.
- Vitamin B12 is needed by your cells for normal function and can reduce nerve damage in people with Type II diabetes.
- Vitamin C lowers sorbitol levels and may improve glucose tolerance.
- Vitamin D is required by your body to maintain adequate blood levels of insulin and vitamin D receptors have been found in the pancreas, where insulin is made.
- Vitamin E if you have low levels of vitamin E, you’re at a higher risk of developing both Type I and Type II diabetes. Vitamin E also improves glucose tolerance.
- Zinc It’s common for people with Type II diabetes to be zinc deficient.
If you are overweight, just dropping 10% of your body weight can have major benefits.