According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of American adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled within the past 30 years! What’s worse is that this growing epidemic is showing no signs of slowing down.
Diabetes is a deadly and costly disease. In the U.S. alone, over 29 million people are affected by diabetes, costing a staggering $245 billion in total medical costs and lost work and wages.
The CDC also reports that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and if poorly managed or left untreated, it can lead to many severe issues such as blindness, loss of kidney function, and conditions that warrant an amputation of limbs. Diabetes also increases the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, cancer, and just about every other disease you can think of.
Contrary to popular belief, diabetes is not a blood sugar problem – it is an insulin issue. When you have high blood sugar, this is a symptom of you being insulin resistant, meaning your body can’t produce insulin.
Why is insulin important?
Insulin is a hormone that is made by beta cells in your pancreas. Its job is to drive sugar into just about every cell in your body and convert it to energy. All foods that you ingest consist of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which eventually convert into sugar (glucose) for your body to use as fuel. If your body becomes insulin resistant, then you can no longer lower your blood sugar effectively, which ultimately leads to diabetes.
If you are insulin resistant, then you may experience some of the below symptoms:
- You complain of being tired after meals
- You constantly crave for sugars and sweets
- You have trouble losing weight
Insulin resistance comes before diabetes is officially diagnosed, and high triglycerides (excess sugar that is converted into circulating fat cells) on a blood test are one of the first signs of being insulin resistant.
A quick clarification of type 1 and type 2 diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, then you have lost the ability to produce insulin since your pancreas is being destroyed by either your immune system or a virus. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that typically starts in childhood and teen years.
If you are diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes, then this means you will eventually lose the ability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is potentially reversible, but it all really comes down to making better lifestyle choices.
So, how can you prevent diabetes or reverse type 2 diabetes naturally?
First, let’s briefly explain the traditional approach to treatment. When you see your conventional doctor, he or she will follow an algorithm for diabetes management. This can include telling you to start eating healthy and perform regular exercises. Your doctor may also begin monitoring your blood sugar levels, and prescribe a medication known as insulin therapy to help you control your blood sugar.
These treatments are designed to help you manage the disease, not get to the root cause. In other words, simply telling you to eat healthier and start exercising more by following a pamphlet may not pertain to your underlying bodily issues. Also, relying on medications to manage your blood sugar levels can lead to many other side effects, and you will never know what is causing you to be insulin resistant – you will just rely on the medication to help you manage and hopefully “solve the issue.”
Gaining a clear understanding as to why your body is not producing enough insulin is the first step toward the long-term change you need to solve your insulin resistance issue naturally. And this can only be performed by a doctor who specializes in alternative treatment options (also known as functional medicine) designed to identify what is causing you to be insulin resistant so that he or she can work with you on a customized plan to help you prevent or reverse the disease.
Your functional medicine doctor will look at your current diet and how it is affecting your insulin levels. This can involve:
- Looking at your glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) scale to help measure your insulin response after eating certain foods and the amount of certain foods you should be eating.
- Helping you to eliminate processed and fast foods that cause inflammatory issues that can cause your cortisol levels to escalate, which leads to an increase in your blood sugar levels.
- Identifying food sensitivities such as gluten, which can cause an immune or inflammatory response. Most people are eating foods they are sensitive to each day and don’t even realize it. Then when they eliminate the type of food they are sensitive to, breakthroughs begin to happen, such as IBS going away, headaches gone, a no longer feeling of being tired all the time and more.
- Food timing – when to eat certain foods and at what times. For instance, frequent meals that are low GI and GL help to keep your blood sugars balanced and prevent them from experiencing the rapid highs and lows.
- Proper exercises to help you lower your insulin levels. By performing the right kind of exercises your body needs you can help burn those calories to lose weight and shrink your fat cells. Proper exercising will also help your body filter waste and can help you control your food cravings.
- Lowering your stress signals. Stress comes in three forms: physical chemical and emotional, and your body reacts the same way to each form. Stress can have a significant impact on insulin, especially your cortisone levels. Stress also causes food cravings, can cause your liver to raise your blood sugar and can decrease your insulin receptor sensitivity.
- Eliminating harmful toxins. Did you know that the average person comes in contact with over 80,000 chemicals per year, and only 1% of these chemicals have been tested for safety? And of these chemicals tested, only five (5) have been banned in the last 30+ years! Our food supply is not the only source of harmful toxins. Harmful toxins are also found in everyday products you use or are exposed to, such as toothpaste, deodorant, skin care products, and even the air you breathe! Eliminating toxins can help you decrease your liver stress, reduce inflammation and insulin resistance.
- Helping you get proper nutrients. The vast majority of people take supplements without really knowing why they are taking We all need essential nutrients, and diabetics are often missing key nutrients, such as B-vitamins, zinc, chromium, magnesium, and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). Similar to checking the fluids of your car, your functional medicine doctor will check the nutrient levels in your body. He or she will then prescribe the right types of foods and supplements to help you get these proper nutrients back to optimal levels, which can help you lower your blood sugar levels.
As you can see, there is a way for you to prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes naturally. This is by far the recommended approach to take as it will help you understand why you are insulin resistant, and help you take the right steps to live and be healthier – without relying on medications that simply manage the disease.
For more information about how to seek functional medicine treatment for diabetes, please visit us at www.DrNeilSpiegel.com
Meet Dr. Neil Spiegel.
For over 20 years in osteopathic medicine, Dr. Spiegel has applied traditional and alternative methods to diagnose and treat his patients. He has a special interest in caring for patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal and neurologic pain syndromes. Dr. Spiegel has received numerous professional and volunteerism honors including Top Doctor Survey Awards and the State of Maryland Volunteer Service Award. He also serves on the Board of Directors of a free clinic serving the uninsured in Montgomery County, Maryland.