Diabetes and Nutrition
Mar 01, 2016 05:30PM
● By Othon Molina
With refined processing of foods, we’ve seen an increase in diabetes. Some races that experience diabetes in larger numbers are Hawaiians, Native American Indians and Hispanics. Their bodies have a hard time adapting to the modern foods, as they have only had four generations of eating rice and wheat products. With the proper nutrition, diabetes can be well managed by anyone.
Types and Causes of Diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes—diabetes mellitus type I, type II and gestational diabetes—and one rarer form called diabetes insipidus. Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in America, and it can be detected with a simple urine test.
Diabetes mellitus type I, often called insulin-dependent diabetes, affects the young, and is commonly referred to as “Juvenile Diabetes”. It is often caused by a viral attack on the immune system. The body is unable to utilize glucose, the main fuel for the body. Consequently, glucose is high in the blood. This is often called “insulin resistance”. The diabetic’s blood becomes too thick or “sticky”, causing blood clots that damage blood vessels.
Type II, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, occurs when people are older, and usually in those with a family history of diabetes. This disorder is a little different in that the pancreas does produce insulin, but the insulin is ineffective. Some common symptoms are poor vision, fatigue, frequent urination, skin infections, slow healing of wounds, unusual thirst, drowsiness and tingling or numbness in the feet. The National Institute of Health says that of the 20 to 25 million people with diabetes type problems, some 5 million have undetected Type II.
Diabetes insipidus is a rarer form of the disease that has to do with a deficiency in the pituitary hormone called vasopressin, or the kidneys’ inability to respond to it. The symptoms that make it stand out include tremendous thirst and urinating large amounts, regardless of how much one drinks.
Diabetics have a larger risk of kidney disease, arteriosclerosis, blindness, heart disease or nerve diseases, as well as being more prone to infections. This is because of their body’s resistance to insulin—the hormone that drives the glucose into the tissue and cells as a nutrient—which disrupts the protein’s ability to function biochemically and further weakens the immune system.
Diabetics can present symptoms of hyperglycemia, which is too much glucose in the blood, or at other times, hypoglycemia, when blood sugar is too low. Both conditions can be serious, but hypoglycemia, which can come on from missing a meal, too much exertion or an insulin overdose, is the more serious concern.
A poor diet may be one of the biggest factors leading to diabetes. It often occurs in people who are overweight or who eat a diet high in refined sugar and highly processed foods, low in fiber, full of many complex carbohydrates or including too much meat, combined with a lack of exercise.
Managing Diabetes with Nutrition
Experts agree that when a body carries excessive weight, a weight loss program is essential. A doctor specializing in nutrition can give specific advice, but suffice it to say that it is in a diabetic’s best interest to lose excess fat. One should always consult a doctor before starting any medical or nutritional program. Excess fat cells create chemical messengers that block the body’s ability to actually respond to the insulin. As the fat comes off, the diabetic’s own insulin works better and the blood sugar level can improve.
To help control weight, consult the following nutrition suggestions:
• Eat more steamed and raw vegetables and naturally low-fat foods, enjoy complex carbohydrates in moderation, cut down on animal fats and dairy and decrease most grains.
• Garlic and onion are great for healing the body.
• Capsaicin, a natural, healthy derivative of hot peppers, can be added to foods.
• Vegetable protein sources have high fiber and help reduce blood sugar urges.
• Proteins such as beans, buffalo, salmon and tuna should be eaten two or three times a week; these fish have omega-3, which is great for the immune system.
• Use raw olive oil for dressings or spread it on breads instead of butter; never use margarine.
• Avoid white flour, table salt and white sugar, as they elevate blood sugar levels.
• Eat more legumes, root vegetables, brown rice, quinoa and nut butters.
• Avoid tobacco, since it constricts blood vessels and can be much more harmful to one’s condition.
Many carbohydrates raise the glucose level of blood dramatically, like whole wheat bread, many breakfast cereals, baked potatoes, raisins, prunes and most dried fruit. Other carbohydrates such as pasta (including quinoa), pita bread, unleavened bread or bible bread, boiled potatoes, grapes, oranges, lemons and honeydew raise blood sugar only modestly. Replace any sweets with stevia—a natural herb that is very sweet and can help heal diabetes.
Othon Molina, Ph.D., c LMT, is a Master Holistic Coach and owner of Molina Wellness Systems, in Tucson. Connect with him at 916-598-5525 or MolinaMassage.com. See ad, page 21.