Diabetes: Other than traditional medical treatment

16Jan14

The internet abounds with diagnostic criteria for what constitutes the diagnosis of diabetes. The criteria for diabetes has changed several times over the past few years with more and more people qualifying based on the newest criteria. If you have diabetes or pre diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance and are interested in some complimentary therapeutic options then this post is for you. Keep in mind none of these treatments are FDA approved and should not substitute for the advice of your primary care provider or health care professional.

Exercise

The first and most effective treatment and preventative measure for diabetes is exercise: Ideally 30-60 minutes 6 days per week of a variety of activities that are enjoyable (walking, gardening, swimming, golf, tennis, weights, marital arts, dance water aerobics, tai chi, yoga etc.) The activity should be something that is regularly performed. It should be easy to fit into your lifestyle. Instead of starting intensely and burning out, try starting slowly and easily and maintaining for as long as possible. You should start to notice some results in about 2 weeks. Those positive effects will be improved sense of well-being, better sleep, and more energy. 

Nutrition

I am not going to ask you to count calories or carbs, but I will ask you to enjoy eating. The Mediterranean diet is a great place to start, but there is no need to become militant about it. If you enjoy something that is not officially on this diet then feel free to make room for it and to deliberately include it. The minute you make a food off limits the more likely you are to crave only it. The diet should also be high in fiber to create a feeling of fullness while also making gastric motility more efficient. High fiber can also slow the absorption of glucose which can help reduce sugar spikes and dips. 

Foods to include:

  • Oatmeal
  • nuts
  • bananas 
  • wild fatty fish
  • dark berries (blue, black and raspberry)

 

Consider order a size small or tall of your favorite foods and drinks, and think twice about over processed foods.

Weight loss: Yes, but I am not as hell bent on this as my colleagues are. Ideally you don’t want a muffin top or to have to squeeze into your pants. If that is what your doing then try to loose a few inches, and feel free to avoid the scale. 

Supplements:

Alpha-lipoic acid: 600- 1800 mg daily this is a potent antioxidant which also enhances glucose uptake, has been found to be helpful in people with peripheral neuropathy which is a common complication in people with uncontrolled diabetes. Some people may notice a skin rash or GI upset. Also people taking this may develop a thiamine deficiency so this should be supplemented as well.

Chromium: has been found to improve glucose control by facilitating uptake of glucose into the cells at doses of 200- 400 mg daily. It has also been found to reduce post meal blood sugars and glycosolated hemoglobin (the dreaded A1C), as well as insulin and cholesterol levels.  It is naturally found in wheat germ, whole grains, brewers yeast and meats. Be warned that this can be toxic when taking in doses of more than 1000 mg daily.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: this has been said to help with heart disease prevention, enhance insulin sensitivity. There is even a pharmaceutical product called Lovaza which has an indication for triglyceride control. These fatty acids naturally occur in flax seeds, salmon, mackerel, herring, halibut. The dose for beneficial effect is 1-4 grams daily.  Just a word of caution with respect to supplementing with this in a manner other than dietary intake: there may be an increased risk of cardiac rhythm abnormality which may be fatal in people with implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

Vanadium 100-300mg daily in animal studies has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, and preserve pancreatic cells. In human studies it has been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose and reduce HbgA1C. This can cause some GI upset, and renal toxicity, a green discoloration of the tongue, fatigue and lethargy. Just because it is natural does not mean it is benign. If you have renal disease you may not want to use this supplement. 

Vitamin C: 1-2 grams daily has been shown to improve insulin resistance through its antioxidant capacity while reducing damage to beta cells by free radicals. There have been no prospective randomized control trials to demonstrate this theory there have been some population studies that show an inverse relationship to vitamin C levels and A1C.

Zinc is excreted in higher amounts in people with diabetes. That being said anyone taking a zinc supplement should also be taking a copper supplement. Zinc has been found to improve immune function and insulin sensitivity. It is naturally found in oysters, lean meat and dark meat of poultry, beans and almonds and leavened whole grains. Supplement form: 15- 20 mg daily. Be aware of mild GI upset, toxcicity, change in taste buds, and possible copper deficiency. 

Cinnamon has been shown to increase glucose metabolism and trigger insulin release and the usual dose is 1-6 grams daily. 

Ginger may help increase insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes

All of these supplements should be used with great caution especially if you are already taking a prescription medication for diabetes as there maybe a compounded effect which could drop the blood sugar fatally low. You also maybe thinking that you do not want to take all of these extra pills. Try the following smoothie recipe which will provide you most of these nutrients from food sources which are always preferred to pill form. 

Diabetes Prevention Smoothie 

1 beet

1 carrot

1 apple

1 inch of ginger root

1 tablespoon of fresshly ground flaxseeds or chia seeds

5 oz of non-fat Greek yogurt

1 cup frozen dark berries

1 orange

3 tablespoons hemp seeds

2 Tablespoons of Honey (optional)

4 oz organic whole milk

Water and Ice as needed for a desired consistency. Use this smoothie to swallow your 1 gram cinnamon capsule in the morning. 

Also include 1-3 cups of black coffee through out the day. The benefits of black coffee are to numerous to count but the most recent findings suggest that those that drink it are less likely to develop diabetes and those that have it have better glycemic control. 

In addition to diet and exercise making time to deliberately relax each day, weekly massage, and making time for important relationships, learning to prioritize and establish boundaries can help reduce the chronic and acute stress that leads to disease promoting habits that could lead to conditions such as diabetes. 

Eat well, sleep well, love well and enjoy the health journey. 

The difference between traditional primary care and relationship based primary care is the later takes time to know the sort of patient that develops the disease. Whereas the former is treating the disease that has the patient. The relationship fosters the healing process rather than the treatment being thrust upon the diseased patient. If you are looking for relationship based primary care in Manhattan then request an appointment at Metro Medical Direct. 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Diabetes: Other than traditional medical treatment”

  1. 1 Letasha

    Hello,

    I just want to say that I LOVE this! I am diabetic myself, and I find it hard at times with a busy schedule, family and outside obligations to focus on me. My stress levels I believe are directly related to my currently uncontrolled DMT2. As, a healthcare provider I find myself giving advice that I do not adhere to for my own life. So, I do know better, just need to decrease stress and do better.

    Taking your advice!

    Your fellow NP!


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