By Alex Strande, ND, Ph.D.
In the U.S., a lot of people have diabetes. Categorized as one of the diseases of affluence, along with obesity and heart disease, diabetes has been rising at an alarming rate, thanks to the Western-influenced highly-refined diet. Cultures still consuming a ‘primitive’ diet are largely immune from diabetes with overwhelming evidence that as they switch from their native diets to the western model, diabetes and a host of other diseases grow rapidly.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is essentially too much sugar in the blood, caused by an insufficient or non-existent supply of hormone insulin, which is supplied by the pancreas. In a healthy exchange, insulin stimulates the cells to absorb and store the glucose (sugar). If insufficient, or no insulin is produced, blood sugar remains in the blood stream, causing a range of symptoms including fatigue, excessive urination, thirst, cardiovascular and kidney damage.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 (insulin-dependent or juvenile onset) and Type II (non-insulin-dependent or adult onset). Type 1 is less common, more severe and starts suddenly, affecting mainly children but sometimes adults up to the age of 35. People with Type 1 diabetes must take regular insulin injections as their pancreas produces virtually no insulin.
ype II which usually starts slowly, develops over the age of 40 and tends to be associated with obesity. This form of diabetes is the most prevalent and is on the rise, with 75 per cent of all cases of diabetes being Type II. In many cases of Type II diabetes, insulin is still being produced by the pancreas but it is not effectively used because the cells have become resistant. This is a common result of a system that has for years been bombarded with too many highly-refined carbohydrates and sugary foods.
Although cases of diabetes can be traced back hundreds of years, its development is still not fully understood. It’s thought that diabetes develops in people born with a predisposition to diabetes, which may or may not eventuate depending on environment and diet. This fact has been well known for centuries with plant foods and grains being used in treatments across the globe from Europe to China and the Middle East. Modern tests have indeed confirmed that foods such as onions, garlic, cinnamon, high-fiber foods, beans, lentils, fenugreek seeds, fish, barley and high chromium foods such as broccoli can lover blood sugar and/or stimulate insulin production.
What is understood is that insulin resistance is mostly determined by genetic makeup and strongly influenced by diet, body weight and physical fitness. A genetic predisposition does not mean you will get diabetes. However, if diet is neglected, a genetic susceptibility to diabetes may eventuate into full-blown diabetes. Foods to avoid are those that stress the pancreas, causing it to produce too much insulin on too many occasions, debilitating insulin’s function to transport glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles where it is either stored or converted to energy.
Bodyweight is a significant factor in controlling blood-sugar levels. Significant weight gain results in many negative outcomes including carbohydrate intolerance, higher insulin levels and insulin insensitivity in both fat and muscle tissue. It is the progressive development of insulin insensitivity that is believed to be the underlying factor in Type II diabetes. Approximately 90 per cent of people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes are overweight. Restoring ideal bodyweight is now thought to be the simplest way to cure in the majority of people.
Studies have found that excessive fat in the diet, especially saturated animal fat, damages insulin’s effectiveness. Furthermore, a study at the University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center found that eating an extra 40g of fat a day (equivalent to a 115g fast food hamburger and large fries) triples your odds of developing diabetes.
However, the ‘good’ fats — those containing omega 3 oils — have been found to promote better insulin activity with less insulin resistance. Studies from Dutch researchers found that fish eaters, consuming as little as 30g a day, were half as likely to develop Type II diabetes as non-fish eaters.
Avoiding dairy in the first year of an infant’s life, particularly those who are genetically prone to diabetes, may prevent the onset of Type 1 diabetes. It appears that certain proteins in cows’ milk provide the antigen (foreign substance) that fools the immune system into attacking its own tissue. In specific relation to diabetes, it’s the beta cells produced in the pancreas that are destroyed, thwarting their ability to make insulin. A study at a hospital in Toronto found these antibodies in the blood of 100 per cent of a group of children with Type 1 diabetes, indicating a reaction to these specific milk proteins. Only 2.5 per cent of non-diabetic children in this study had such antibodies. Further studies have shown that feeding children exclusively on breast milk for the first two to three months reduces their chances of developing diabetes by the age of 14 by 40 per cent, with longer periods of breastfeeding further decreasing the risk of developing diabetes.
Real Diabetes Fighters
After years of clinical practice I honestly have to say that you can not beat plant medicines in the fight of diabetes Type 1 and Type II. Depending on the persons presenting symptoms (everyone is different). Herbs are the most effective in regenerating and maintaining function of the pancreas. By using liquid herbs I get fast, reliable and lasting results. Herbs that are used among others are: Goats Rue. Jambul, Nettles, Sweet Sumach, Fringe Tree Bark, Gymnema and Fenugreek.
The pancreas hates cold foods and drinks, caffeine in all or any form, sugar in all or any form, and the inability to control stress. Herbs nourishing the nerve system are the fastest way to help deal with stress. The most popular nerve nourishing herbs are: Verbena, Avena, Hypericum, Rosemarinus, Cola Nitida, Withania and Damiana.
Alex Strande is a Microbiologist and Naturopath. He can be reached at (949) 553 1882 for questions and appointments.
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