Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Greetings Journal reader. In continuation of my heart health series, this month's column focuses on Diabetes mellitus. Although really a disease of the endocrine (hormonal) or immune system, diabetes has a number of undesirable effects like promoting the progression of vessel & heart. Diabetes occurs when your pancreas can either no longer secrete enough of the hormone insulin, (which helps keep your blood sugar stable,) or the cells in your body no longer respond to the insulin that is secreted. Because of this, blood sugar goes up, which if uncontrolled results in harm to several body tissues. Whether or not you have diabetes, you can benefit from this month's Ask Dr. P, as some estimates suggest that 40% of us will develop diabetes by age 60!
Q: Dr. P., my doctor says I'm borderline for developing diabetes. What can I do to avoid getting it? Paul
Paul, you must be suffering from hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). When high blood sugar is sustained, then you have diabetes. There are many things you can do to improve the situation. First, eliminate simple sugars from your diet. This would include things like candy, pop, cake, or basically anything with sugar added or mixed in with it. This in and of itself can go pretty far in improving your blood sugar, and helping your body cope with the sugar it does get. Second, add fiber to your diet. This also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, by slowing absorption of what you do eat. Third, try to balance your meals with protein, carbohydrates, and fats. If you're not sure what that means, a trip to your local library to find a book on basic nutrition will provide you examples of what foods are in each of these categories. Third, exercise. Exercise, can profoundly improve your body's ability to stabilize blood sugar. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions about what to do.
Q: Dr. P., I've heard that Natural Medicine can help manage my diabetes. How? Shirley
Shirley, aside from what I mentioned in the answer to Paul's question above, there are many things that can be done to improve your blood sugar control (glucose tolerance,) and prevent the complications of diabetes. Some examples include adding garlic and onions to your diet. Nutrients like magnesium, chromium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, have been helpful. Finally herbal medicines like Gymnemma s. Trigonella f. g., and Momordica c. have been shown helpful. Patients will either be able to reduce or discontinue their diabetes medications after using natural methods over the course of a few months. This is desirable, as even if you are able to reduce your medications, you also reduce the side-effects and risks of using them.
Q: Dr. P., I've tried all the dietary approaches, and have been on insulin for about 4 years, and my blood sugars are still uncontrolled. What's next. Chad
Chad, nearly every patient I've seen who thought they had tried all the dietary methods, had not. Each had tried the American Dietetics Association "exchange" diet, which was developed about 25 or more years ago. Understandably, it is outdated, and ineffective. Although many nutritionists and dieticians are forward thinking in their recommendations, and have learned more than was taught in their schooling, many have not and are still recommending outdated diets for blood sugar control. You could benefit from some more-current dietary recommendations, individualized nutrient and herbal medicine treatments. If after this you're blood sugar is still uncontrolled, then I would work with you on optimizing dosing & frequency of your insulin. Doing this is important as insulin is "atherogenic" or promotes vessel disease, what we're trying to avoid by treating the diabetes in the first place. I've seen so many diabetes patients who were just told to take a few shots of insulin a day, and never really give any good instruction on how to optimize dose based on their very unique individual needs. It's criminal.
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