Treating diabetes naturally can not only help you balance your blood sugar and lose weight, but you will improve every aspect of your health because of it.
Do you want to avoid taking medications?
Did you know that a lot of the advice on the best diet for diabetes is wrong?
In the past people experienced stress during times of famine or restrictions in the number of available foods, this was influenced by the weather and the seasons, there was never a steady flow of abundant food.
These days our body’s are under stress from an oversupply of food, with no famines, and due to the high proportion of processed packaged foods in the Western world, we have a lack of adequate nutrition.
These excess calories and lack of nutrition maybe ok in the short term but it leads to many long-term health consequences. The average calorie consumption has increased from 2.100 calories a day to 2,800 calories a day over the past 60 years, but energy expenditure has decreased 46% during this time.
It is easy to see how this increased calorie consumption can occur, it is not just the abundance of food available at the supermarket and convenience stores, but our bodies are hard-wired to consume foods in times of plenty. The hormones that control our satiety and appetite go out of balance with the excess carbohydrate consumption, and when the “famine” never comes, we start to gain weight and increase our risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
On top of the abundance of food available today a lot of people are experiencing increased stress levels, fatigue and a lack of sleep. This interferes with our appetite-regulating hormones like leptin and ghrelin which further promotes overconsumption of foods, especially refined carbohydrates.
This leads to “Metabolic Dysfunction” and poor mitochondrial function (our cells batteries) further leading to fatigue and our craving for processed “pick me up” foods.
This becomes a vicious circle and the combination of poor diet, lack of sleep and stressful lifestyle can lead to high cortisol levels and adrenal function problems. Adrenal function problems can affect many areas of your health and lead to high blood sugar, fatigue, low immune function plus hormone problems like PMS and infertility. Testing for adrenal fatigue can help to identify if this is the major cause of your health problems.
Blood sugar imbalances can also cause anxiety and depression
Even gut health can influence our food choices when we have too many of the “bad bugs” they can lead to food cravings and a desire to eat sugary, processed foods. Even if we have good intentions to eat well sometimes we are being manipulated by the bacteria and yeast infections within us, to enhance their own survival.
We are host to a thriving community of bacteria and our food choices influence whether we have a community of beneficial bacteria or pathogenic bacteria that cause gas, bloating, constipation/ diarrhea or reflux.
These bacteria will also affect blood sugar levels, so any imbalance in your gut health will also contribute to diabetes, so it is important when treating diabetes naturally to look at all aspects of your health.
Insulin is the party hormone! When there is an abundance of food insulin is secreted in response to eating, it tells us that “energy” is coming our way and prepares muscle and fat cells for its arrival. The more food (especially carbohydrates), the more insulin is secreted, and the more energy that can be stored.
Insulin is all about promoting glucose, protein and fat storage, inhibiting fat burning and promoting anabolism (growth) of tissues. Some insulin is essential for life, the anabolic effects of insulin are crucial for cell functioning, repair, growth and muscle building.
Insulin is not the problem, excess insulin is the problem!
Insulin levels are a lot higher in the Western world, compared to people following an ancestral hunter and gatherer lifestyle, this is due to the constant supply of carbohydrate-rich processed foods like cereals, bread, pasta, biscuits and other sweet treats.
When insulin levels are constantly elevated the cellular response to insulin changes, instead of the anabolic effects to promote muscle growth we get increased weight gain, especially fat around the waist. Other signs and symptoms of insulin resistance and poor carbohydrate tolerance are fatigue, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, insomnia, acne, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Left untreated the constantly elevated insulin levels will lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
Diet is the number one way to prevent and treat diabetes naturally! The low-fat high carbohydrate diet promoted by governments and diabetes associations only leads to a worsening of the symptoms, and a high reliance on medications to control diabetes.
This low-fat diet advice has been promoted since the 1970’s based on the theory that eating fat makes you fat (sounds like a good theory) has been proven false by a large number of scientific studies. There is now a lot of money invested in the “low fat” food industry and it seems that the heart foundation and diabetes associations don’t want to admit they were wrong for the past 40 years and change their guidelines.
While different forms of low-calorie diets and intermittent fasting can help to lower insulin levels and improve cell functioning, they also suffer from poor compliance and binge eating due to the feelings of hunger that they cause.
One way to mimic the benefits of fasting while still consuming enough calories to maintain muscle mass and prevent hunger is a high fat/ low carbohydrate ketogenic diet.
Diabetes and weight gain is a sign of carbohydrate intolerance so it makes sense to restrict carbohydrates to reduce weight but what about increasing fats, isn’t that going against everything we have been told about fats being “evil”.
A high fat plus high carbohydrate diet would be a diet of takeaway foods and that is a diet that will promote weight gain, but a ketogenic diet is a high fat / low carbohydrate diet that will actually promote fat burning. It is also important to eat quality fats made by nature, such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, macadamia oil and coconut oil, and not eat the industrially processed man-made fats such vegetable oils, canola oil and rice bran oil which can promote inflammation.
A lot of promising research is now showing that a ketogenic diet can improve neurological diseases like Alzheimers and dementia, as well as improve the outcome in cancer patients. If you are worried about a high-fat diet and cardiovascular health, a ketogenic diet actually lowers triglycerides and the small dense LDL cholesterol.
The first couple of weeks can be a challenge when switching from a high carbohydrate diet to a ketogenic diet as your body is not used to running on fats for energy, but after a few weeks your energy levels, sleep, and brain function will all improve, and excess weight will start to drop off, along with cravings for food.
Exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, but without dietary changes exercise alone will not help with weight loss and reversing diabetes.
The two best types of exercise to promote fitness, muscle growth, and cardiovascular health, while also helping to lower insulin levels are high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight training. If you’re not into fitness both of these can sound scary but they do not have to be, and the good news is that they can be done in minimal time.
HIIT training can be as simple as walking up and down stairs for 3-10 minutes, for someone who has not been doing any exercise this is going to be high intensity.
As you get fitter you can try doing more repetitions in the 10 minute period rather than exercising for a longer time. HIIT training can also be done on a treadmill or exercise bike where you may exercise at a high intensity for 10-30 seconds and then have a minutes break and repeat this process 3-5 times, your whole exercise session can be over in 10 minutes so there are no excuses for not having enough time.
Resistance or weight training is beneficial for everybody, not only does it promote strength, improve circulation and bone density but it helps to lower insulin and promote fat loss.
Weight training does not have to be done at a gym though obviously, that is a great place to learn how to do it right, weight training can be done at home using body weight. Body weight exercises include squats, push-ups, dips, planks and lunges and you can find a lot of how to guides for these exercises on youtube.
Supplements also are no substitute for a good diet but if you are having trouble with food cravings, fatigue or high blood sugar levels then certain nutrients can help to support the body and help you get quicker results. It is important not to self-prescribe supplements as I see many people doing this, and they often end up taking the wrong supplements for their condition, or poor quality supplements that are ineffective or low dose.
Lipoic Acid helps to prevent diabetes complications including retinopathy and nephropathy, as well as improving blood pressure and endothelial function in diabetics. Lipoic Acid also provides additional support for disorders of glucose metabolism and carbohydrate intolerance by improving clearance of glucose from the blood.
Chromium helps to improve mood by balancing blood sugar levels and reducing down cravings for carbohydrates. This can be an essential nutrient when transitioning from a high carbohydrate to a low carbohydrate diet and is commonly found in a Blood Sugar Support Formula
Cocoa, yes the stuff that makes chocolate is high in polyphenol compounds, and these polyphenols help with insulin sensitivity, activate fat burning PPAR receptors, inhibit fat storage and has anti-inflammatory benefits …. that’s the good news, the bad news is there are not much of these benefits in a standard chocolate bar if your looking for a good fat burning formula try Perfect Keto Protein powder.
Cinnamon is another dietary phytochemical that has been proven in numerous clinical trials to improve insulin sensitivity and activate the PPAR receptors to promote fat burning. It can help to lower blood sugar levels by 10% over a 10 week period, so if you combine this with the diet and exercise changes that can contribute to significant benefits.
Diabetes, carbohydrate intolerance and weight gain is a problem for many people, and through diet and lifestyle changes it can be fixed naturally without medications.
Working with an experienced practitioner will help you to rule out other underlying causes of weight gain and diabetes, things like low thyroid function, adrenal fatigue, and other hormonal imbalances.
If you have any questions leave a comment below, or if you would like help treating diabetes naturally schedule a consultation.
Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions.
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