November is Diabetes awareness month
Last week we discussed “What is Diabetes” (if you missed it check here). I left you with one very important fact: 90-95% of those who are diabetic have type 2 Diabetes. What makes this little tidbit of info is so important is that type 2 diabetes is not only preventable, but those who have type 2 diabetes can reverse it and avoid the devastating complications.
How can this be? You may be thinking it runs in my family, I’ve been taught that is chronic, progressive and it’s just my luck. My mom, brother, grandmothers, all my Aunts, several Uncles and cousins have or had diabetes before they were forty. (That is not old in my book, by the way.) I know without a doubt how this terrible disease not only shortens life span but other complications make day to day life harder. Eventually, diabetes affects every body system impacting energy, vision, weight, sleep, digestion, and many more. As my calling to be a caregiver, I’ve naturally taken that roll and seen so many affected by the diabetes aftermath. I determined not to fall prey to this very common malady! I want to be healthy and live to be one hundred. Ok, I want to live long enough to see my children grow up, play with grandchildren, and travel to see the seven wonders of the world.
So how to prevent the most common type of diabetes? You might be asking what if I were told that I have pre-diabetes or… what if I already have type 2 diabetes? The answer will be surprisingly similar. There is usually a combination of factors or underlying causes of the disease. It can include poor diet, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, high levels of inflammation, high stress, hormone conditions like hypothyroid or PCOS, or taking certain medications that disrupt insulin production. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes naturally.
I usually want to hear the bad news first then follow it with good news full of hope. So I will start with the things to avoid, delete, or remove from current lifestyle. Some things you can bring back in time, and in moderation. Don’t turn off the computer. Keep reading. There is more ‘good news’ than the bad. Really.
Step 1: Remove these foods to prevent and reverse Type 2 Diabetes naturally
Certain foods negatively affect your blood sugar levels, cause inflammation and trigger immune responses. To reverse diabetes naturally, the first step is to remove these foods from your diet:
Refined sugar: Refined sugar rapidly spikes blood glucose. Soda pop, fruit juice and other sugary beverages are the worst culprits. These forms of sugar enter the bloodstream rapidly and can cause extreme elevations in blood glucose. Natural sweeteners like raw local honey and maple syrup are better options, but they can still affect blood sugar levels, so only use these foods on occasion. Your best option is to switch to stevia, a natural sweetener that won’t have as much of an impact.
Grains: Grains, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, contain large amounts of carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar within only a few minutes of consumption. Gluten can also cause inflammation which will affect hormones like cortisol and leptin, this too can lead to spikes in blood sugar. I recommend removing all grains from your diet for 90 days as your body adjusts to this healing program. Then you can try bringing non-processed and sprouted grains back into your diet in small amounts.
Alcohol: Alcohol can dangerously increase blood sugar and lead to liver toxicity. Beer and sweet liquors are especially high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
Hydrogenated oils: Remove hydrogenated rancid oils from your diet, including vegetable oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil. Because these oils are processed, treated at very high temperatures, and combined with bleaching agents and artificial dyes, consuming them has been linked to many health concerns, including diabetes.
GMO foods: GMO corn, soy and canola have been linked to kidney and liver disease and may promote diabetes. I suggest removing all GMO foods and all packaged foods from your diet. Opt for products that are labeled organic or GMO-free.
Step 2: Incorporate these foods to prevent and reverse Type 2 Diabetes naturally
Some of these are going to naturally promote health while some have the ability to reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes. These are good foods for everyone in the family.
Foods high in fiber: We just don’t get enough America! High fiber foods help slow down glucose absorption. It is plain good for you, so many health benefits, you should check out this article. We should aim for at least 30 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is found in vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, peas and artichokes), fruits (like avocados, figs, and berries), beans, nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Nutrient rich foods: Foods high in chromium: high in chromium can improve the glucose tolerance factor in your body and naturally balance out blood glucose levels. Broccoli has the highest amounts of chromium, but you can also find it in raw cheese, green beans, brewer’s yeast and grass-fed beef. Magnesium-rich foods: Magnesium can help regulate blood sugar levels because it plays a role in glucose metabolism. Eating leafy greens, especially spinach, can improve type 2 diabetes symptoms. Other foods with magnesium: chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt and black beans. Check out National Institutes of Health articles: chromium article here and magnesium article here.
Healthy fats: Medium-chained fatty acids found in coconut are a preferred fuel source for your body rather than sugar. Healthy fats in coconut milk, ghee and grass-fed butter can also help balance out your blood sugar levels, so include these foods into your meals and smoothies. Check here for dietitian Cassie article explaining why diabetics should add healthy fats.
Clean protein: Protein has very little effect on your blood glucose levels and it can slow down the absorption of sugar. Some of the best sources of clean protein include wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, lentils, eggs and bone broth.
Foods with a low glycemic load: The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels, according to Harvard. Foods that have a high glycemic index are converted into sugar after being eaten more quickly than low glycemic foods. Low glycemic foods like non-starchy vegetables, coconut, stone fruits and berries. Zero glycemic index foods are meat, wild-caught fish, eggs and avocados.
Spice it up a little with Cinnamon: Cinnamon has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve your sensitivity to insulin. Studies show that eating a little of this spice every day can decrease your blood sugar levels. Other benefits like lowering triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol while increasing the good HDL cholesterol levels. Read more about cinnamon benefits here.
Bitter melon: Another amazing little health powerhouse. Studies have shown bitter melon to decrease symptoms of diabetes and insulin resistance. This vegetable-fruit has been used in ancient medicine for ages. Don’t let the name scare you, it can be tasty when cooked right.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: To improve insulin sensitivity and fight type 2 diabetes. Alpha lipoic acid is a great antioxidant that helps the glucose sugar in the body turn into energy. Some people with diabetic neuropathy benefit from alpha lipoic acid (ALA) supplements. But we can all benefit from the antioxidants in alpha lipoic acid found in foods like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes.
Step 3: Lifestyle changes
Any time you make decision to do things differently in life you have old habits to replace with new ones. Just a reminder it takes many days of doing the same thing before it becomes a habit, or seem natural. Take it one step at a time.
Follow this way of eating: As you can already see by the list above low glycemic and low carbohydrate diet. If you want to see real changes in your blood glucose and the way your body reacts on a metabolic level you will want a clean protein, healthy fats and fiber in each meal. Healthy fats are important, they are a more efficient fuel for your body and since the body can burn both glucose/sugar and fat for fuel, you will feel full and satisfied without running out of energy. You will want three meals a day rather than several (6+) small meals. You will not feel the need to snack all day. In fact multiple snacks, or grazing as I call it, is detrimental stabilizing sugar and insulin levels.
Intermittent fasting: Not eating less but less often. Did you know, word breakfast is really two words that imply we are breaking our fast. While we sleep we fast, or do not eat, for a period of time. While you sleep many functions are going on in the body and do this best when not also dealing with the burden of digesting a meal. Studies have shown fasting to be the single most effective way to lower blood pressure, blood sugars and many other ailments. Start with one day a week to extend your fasting into the morning. As an example, if your last meal of the day was at 6pm and you wake up at 6am, you would have the first meal of the day at 9am. That is fasting 15 hours. As you adapt you can increase the fast time. If you have diabetes be sure to speak to your doctor, medications meant to lower your morning sugars may mean you adapt your fasting window to early evening to normal morning meal. Your doctor may lower your medications because you will be using diet rather than medications to control your blood glucose. Check out Dr. Khambatas article about intermittent fasting as a diabetic here.
Get moving: You knew this was coming. Exercise. There are so many benefits of simple act of exercise. It is the easiest thing that everybody can improve upon. yet, we fall short somehow. I have heard, well used, all the excuses out there. I’m too busy, I don’t want to drive to exercise, I don’t want to pay for exercise, who will do child care, I hurt too much, I don’t feel like sweating today, and my latest excuse… not on my birthday. Well its way too important! American Diabetes Association says we should not go more than 2-3 days without some sort of moderate to vigorous activity of 30 minutes or more. They recommend 5 days a week to do some sort of aerobic activity. Note moderate aerobic intensity means you can talk but not sing during the activity. They also recommend that twice a week you do strength training. Ok, I just said that we should do something, get moving 7 days a week! So, maybe I can skip on my birthday but tomorrow I should do my aerobics in morning and strengthening in the evening. Who am I kidding, once I get moving I’m always happy that I did. Walking daily and keeping track of it keeps me accountable to me and I can see my progress. There are many free apps out there to help you stay motivated. My favorite activity is gardening, the reward of fresh life giving fruits and vegetables is so cool. I also attend a core strengthening class weekly. I have a mat, exercise ball and weights that I use on my own time a home at least one other day a week with what I learn in that class. Find what works for you. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you want to make it. Invite a friend on a walk. Take steps, plan and allow it to become a habit. Just make it happen.
MORE ABOUT DR. SHAUNA:
Dr. Shauna’s approach to health care is holistic, stressing the patient's overall health and wellness. Recognizing that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Providing natural, drugless, nonsurgical health treatments allowing the body's inherent recuperative abilities to come into play.
She is committed to quality care that focuses on the overall health of every patient, including rehabilitation and exercise advice, continuing patient education, ergonomics training, and nutritional support. Treating clients of all ages and abilities, helping them find health and vitality. Her life's theme and moto is “Give. Love. Do. Serve. Out of Abundance.”
I so very appreciate the opportunity. I wanted people to get the message: We have relied on medical system for centuries! Good Health is our own responsibility and there are no miracle pills out there. I can reach hundreds of people with each teaching now!! Thank you, thank you for the tech support also… I'm actually becoming comfortable with my lap top and (which was crazy talk just last year!)
Dr. Shauna Lover DC
Visit Dr. Shauna at: https://shaunalover.com/