An A-Z Woman's Guide to Vibrant Health

Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition affecting 6.3 percent of the population according to the American Diabetes Association. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 300 million people worldwide will have diabetes by the year 2025. Those are alarming figures, particularly since the disease is preventable with simple lifestyle changes. Complications of diabetes include blindness, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease, gangrene and heart disease. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 80 percent of those with diabetes will die from heart disease or stroke.

There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile diabetes; it typically strikes before the age of 30. It occurs when the pancreas no longer produces sufficient insulin, a crucial hormone in the transportation of sugar to our cells. In over 85 percent of those with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the pancreatic insulin-secreting beta cells. The inability of the pancreas to produce insulin causes glucose to build up in the bloodstream. Because glucose is not transferred to the cells, the cells starve.

Type 2 diabetes, also called Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus or NIDDM affects about 90 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes. Those with Type 2 diabetes tend to be overweight and over 40, but increasingly today we are seeing more Type 2 diabetes in young children. In Type 2 diabetes, although the pancreas may produce low or normal amounts of insulin, the peripheral organs and tissues have become resistant to insulin's effects.

Gestational diabetes occurs in about two to five percent of pregnancies. Those who develop gestational diabetes and their offspring are at much higher risk of diabetes later in life.

Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetes include excessive hunger and thirst, frequent and copious urination, and weight fluctuations: Type 1 generally causes weight loss, and Type 2 is associated with weight gain. Watch for cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, and tingling or numbness in your hands and feet. Extreme lack of energy, itchy skin and blurred vision are also involved. Recurring bladder and vaginal yeast infections may also be present. Skin tags that grow on the neck, face, armpit, groin and the folds under the breasts are also a sign of diabetes. Sixty percent of those with skin tags have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is an insidious condition, with symptoms appearing so gradually that they often go unnoticed.

Causes
Type 1 diabetes results from damage to the cells in the pancreas responsible for insulin production as a result of a virus, infection or other immune system destruction. It is also possible that an allergy to the albumin in milk promotes destruction of the insulin-producing cells. Mothers are encouraged to breast-feed their children, as clinical research shows that breastfed infants do not develop Type 1 diabetes as often as those on milk-based formulas. Researchers have found that the introduction of gluten-containing foods before the age of six months may also increase the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes in children.

A growing body of research has found a connection between diet and lifestyle and the development of Type 2 diabetes. The Western diet of high sugar and high fat, coupled with a lack of fruits, vegetables and fiber leaves many people undernourished and overweight. Insulin is the main hormone that contributes to our weight problem. The standard, high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet is disrupting our bodies' ability to regulate blood sugar adequately. When we are pumping out too much insulin to reduce abnormally high blood glucose, we inevitably gain weight and become fat, and our cells become resistant to insulin and weight loss. Everyone who is overweight has insulin resistance, and this resistance puts them at a higher risk for diabetes as well as cancer and heart disease. Those with an apple-shape or "beer belly," with excess weight around the middle, are at serious risk of disease. In North America, one in four children between the ages of two and five are obese. Over 60 percent of the adult population is overweight, and 15-30 percent are considered obese.

PRESCRIPTION FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH


Nutrients
Dosage
Action
Multivitamins with minerals; (contains no iron)
MULTISMART
As directed. For complete formula recommendations see Appendix A
For complete nutrient support
Vitamin C
(buffered with mineral ascorbates)
1000-2000 mg per day in divided doses
Prevents vitamin C deficiency and reduces Sorbitol and aldose reductase (an enzyme that causes many diabetic complications). High Sorbitol can damage sensitive tissues in the eyes causing retinopathies. Vitamin C protects against retinopathy.
GLUCOSMART with Chirositol
1-2 capsules daily containing:
Chirositol 600-1200 mg
Chromium (Picolinate)
2.24.4 mcg
Mediates insulin, modulates serotonin to reduce food cravings, helps control blood glucose levels, beneficial for building muscle, weight control and conditions associated with hormone imbalance
Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Brainsmart
300-600 mg
A potent antioxidant that slows oxidative damage to cells; increases glucose uptake to cells, improves insulin sentivity and reduces the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy such as cataract formation and nerve and vein damage
Milk thistle
600 mg per day standardized to 80 percent silymarin
Protects the liver, a potent antioxidant; protects the pancreas from toxicity. Silybin, a component of silymarin, improves insulin sensitivity while inhibiting glucosestimulated insulin release. Reduces insulin requirements
Borage oil
GLA Skin Oil
2000 mg of borage oil per day
Improves diabetes-related peripheral nerve dysfunction and and supplies GLA fatty acids that support normal blood glucose and insulin levels
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Cala-Q Plus
2 softgels per day containing:
Calamari oil providing 720 mg
of DHA and 280 mg of EPA
Lowers blood pressure, increases levels of good cholesterol, reduces the level of bad cholesterol and lowers the levels of fibrinogen, a protein that makes blood thicker and stickier. Also necessary for the formation of prostaglandins.
Flax Seed Fiber
One to two tablespoons of ground flax seed
Slows the absorption of carbohydrates. Decreases total cholesterol and triglycerides and blood sugar levels.

HEALTH TIPS TO ENHANCE HEALING
  • Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology 2002 found that by taking a vitamin and mineral supplement, the risk of developing diabetes was reduced by 30 percent in men and a 16 percent in women. Basic nutrients are the foundation on which you will build your personalized anti-diabetes program.
  • Eat small, frequent meals high in protein. Dietary changes are a priority for those with diabetes. Adopt the simple rule of not eating any white foods -white sugar, white flour, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes, etc. Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables because they are high in vitamins and minerals and low on the glycemic index. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of developing diabetes. The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study Group found that lifestyle modifications using diet and exercise reduced the incidence of diabetes in high-risk men and women by almost 60 percent.
  • Avoid all processed foods. Processed foods (containing sugars and transfatty acids) and refined carbohydrates take only a few minutes to cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and corresponding release of insulin. A complex or non-refined carbohydrate can take hours to convert to glucose. Hence the reason this book recommends "good carbohydrates" only. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that women eating a diet high in trans-fatty acids have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
  • In addition to avoiding white foods, attention should be paid to the level of dietary fiber in the diet. Up to 40 grams of fiber should be eaten daily by those with diabetes.
  • To increase your intake of EPA and DHA, add regular servings of fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel. Eat only good fats and eliminate transfatty acids from your diet (found in processed foods). When saturated fats (the bad ones) are replaced with essential fats from flax, fish, borage, evening primrose, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, insulin levels normalize or decrease.
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Sweet'N Low, sucralose) and use stevia (containing no sugars and having zero calories). Stevia has been shown to have a positive effect on the pancreas. Xylitol (which has been researched to prevent periodontal disease) is another sweetening option for those with diabetes.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Alcohol is high in sugars. Cigarette smoking increases insulin resistance and high circulating blood insulin levels.
  • Eat small amounts of protein throughout the day. Protein, when eaten in small amounts, inhibits the rise of glucose and stimulates glucagon to release stored carbohydrates in the liver. But too much protein has been shown to increase insulin, especially when consumed with certain types of carbohydrates. When simple, refined carbohydrates are combined with too much protein - for example, the burger with the white bun - insulin increases. Consume good protein sources with excellent carbohydrate sources low on the glycemic index, while adding good fats and avoiding sugars.
  • Avoid or greatly reduce processed meats such as hot dogs and bologna. Aside from increasing your cancer risk, research has shown that eating processed meats five or more times per week is a risk factor for developing diabetes.
  • Walking as little as 30 minutes per day can dramatically reduce the side effects associated with diabetes while aiding the return of normal blood glucose and insulin regulation. Losing as little as 2-14 percent of excess body fat has been shown to reduce triglycerides, high cholesterol, normalize fasting blood glucose and plasma insulin.
  • Have your doctor check for hypothyroidism or do the Barnes Basal Body Temperature Test in Appendix C to determine if you have functional hypothyroidism.