There are two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes that results from an autoimmune disorder, and type 2 diabetes, a condition where the body's ability to use carbohydrates is impaired by inefficient insulin function. Characterized by abnormally high blood sugar and insulin levels, type 2 diabetes greatly increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve disorders, kidney disease, cancer, and impotence. But, because type 2 diabetes is largely a nutritional and lifestyle disease, it can be prevented. If you already suffer from the disorder, it can often be managed with diet, exercise, and supplements.
The type of diet that offers protection against type 2 diabetes is a protein-rich, low-carbohydrate eating plan in which the carbohydrates come primarily from non-starchy vegetables such as salad greens, green beans, asparagus, celery, and broccoli. Eating this type of diet and using supportive supplements shouldn't be considered ‘alternative medicine’ but rather the treatment of choice for type 2 diabetes. Your diet should also be rich in good fats, such as the monounsaturated fats in olive oil and omega-3 fats in cold-water fish and fish oil. Although fat is considered taboo by many people, good fats should be considered essential medicine for diabetics because they improve insulin sensitivity. Finally, avoiding all high fructose corn syrup, simple sugars, starches, and high-glycemic load foods is very important for balancing blood sugar levels and insulin response.
Being overweight can significantly heighten diabetes risk. And research shows that losing weight helps lower your blood sugar levels and improves your overall health. It’s also important to exercise. Recent studies show that adopting a regular exercise program helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces low-level, systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, and helps to normalize, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. One study that appeared in the journal Obesity found that each time you exercise you improve insulin’s ability to stimulate the uptake of blood sugar into your cells. For best results, strive to exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times per week.
Chromium: is a trace mineral that works closely with insulin to help shuttle glucose into cells. Without chromium, insulin's action is blocked and glucose levels are elevated. There have been more than 20 clinical studies examining chromium supplementation in people with diabetes. In one recent clinical trial, scientists in India confirmed that supplementation with chromium reduces fasting glucose levels, improves glucose tolerance, lowers insulin levels, and decreases total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Typical dosage: 200 to 400 mcg per day.
Cinnamon: is a familiar spice which was recently found to help insulin receptors work better. In one trial of 109 type 2 diabetics, those given 1 gram of supplemental cinnamon daily in addition to their diabetes drugs had lower hemoglobin A1c (a measurement of your average blood sugar levels) than those given standard medication only. Typical dosage: 1 to 1.5 grams daily.
Gymnema sylvestre: is an Indian herb that helps slow the transport of glucose from the intestines into the bloodstream. Preliminary studies with type 2 diabetics have found that the herb also lowers and LDL
Magnesium: is also involved in glucose metabolism. German scientists have discovered that this mineral increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, helps balance blood sugar levels, and improves blood pressure. The researchers concluded that each 100 mg of magnesium lowers a person’s diabetes risk by 15 percent. Typical dosage: For prevention, start by taking 400 mg daily. Gradually increase that amount to 800 mg if you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.
Mulberry extract: has been studied in type 2 diabetics for its ability to lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In one study, researchers investigated mulberry’s effect on blood lipids and compared its blood sugar lowering actions to the prescription diabetes drug glyburide. Patients were given either 3 grams of mulberry per day or one 5 mg tablet of glyburide every day for four weeks. Compared to the glyburide, the mulberry therapy significantly improved diabetes control in type 2 diabetic patients. The herb also improved hemoglobin A1c and cholesterol levels. Typical dosage: 1,000 mg taken before your largest meal of the day.
PolyGlycopleX (PGX): is a special type of fiber that promotes weight loss by helping you feel full longer. More than a dozen human studies have shown that it effectively reduces appetite, and an overview published in Alternative Medicine Review demonstrated that PGX helps reduce blood-sugar swings and improves insulin efficiency. This helps keep food from being stored as fat. Typical dosage: 2.5 grams before each meal taken with a full glass of water.