What is diabetes?
Diabetes is the term used to for a group of metabolic diseases where an individual has high blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, because their insulin production is inadequate or because the body’s cells are not properly responding to insulin. Sometimes it is both. Diabetes can be a long-term and sometimes lifelong condition that causes high blood sugar levels that must be controlled if not addressed by diet, exercise, maintaining ideal weight and stress management. In 2013 alone it was estimated that over 382 million people in the world suffered from diabetes.
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes – This is when the body does not produce insulin. Approximately 10 percent of all diabetes cases are labeled as Type 1
- Type 2 Diabetes – This is when the body does not produce enough insulin. Approximately 90 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide are labeled as Type 2
Diabetes can be a very dangerous disease if not properly managed. However, those who manage their diabetes well can live a normal life. Common diabetes symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Intense thirst and/or hunger
- Weight gain
- Unusual weight loss
- Injuries, like cuts or bruises, that do not heal
- Male sexual dysfunction
- Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet
If you have experienced these symptoms, it is important to speak with a doctor and be properly tested and diagnosed. Once you know which type of diabetes you are suffering from, you can better treat it.
Those who do not properly control their type of diabetes can experience severe and sometimes deadly complications including:
- Eye Problems – Those who do not properly treat themselves can experience glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and in cases go blind
- Foot Complications – Without proper diabetes management, a patient can experience neuropathy, ulcers, and in some cases gangrene which can require amputation of the foot
- Heart Problems – Those who suffer from diabetes can also face a greater risk of heart problems like ischemic heart disease where the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished
- Hypertension – common in people with diabetes, which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke
- Mental Health Issues – Uncontrolled diabetes can raise the risk of suffering from issues like depression, anxiety or other mental disorders
- Hearing Loss – diabetes patients have a greater risk of developing hearing problems
- Gum Disease – Diabetes patients experience a much higher risk of gum disease compared with those who do not suffer from the condition
- Neuropathy – Diabetic neuropathy is a specific type of nerve damage that can lead to several other issues
- Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS) – This is an emergency condition where blood glucose levels sky rocket and no ketones are present in the blood or urine
- Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – This is a common issues which leads to pain or tingling in the leg as well as potential problems with walking
- Stroke – If a diabetic fails to control their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels, they run a high risk of suffering from a stroke
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Infections – Those with poorly controlled diabetes are far more susceptible to infections
- Healing of wounds – Poorly controlled diabetes patients will notice that cuts and bruises take a long time to heal
Those who have diabetes run the risk of either having their blood sugar too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Both can be controlled if certain steps are followed for a healthier lifestyle.
Are there treatment options for diabetes aside from medication?
Luckily, all types of diabetes are treatable. Unfortunately, Type 1 diabetes will last a lifetime because there is currently no cure. Those with Type 1 are treated with insulin injections as well as maintain a strict diet and exercise plan.
Type 2 diabetes can last a lifetime, but many patients are able to manage it and eventually relieve their symptoms without the use of medication. Through a combination of exercise, diet and body weight control and stress management those with Type 2 diabetes may not need medication. It is important to note that Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. This means that it will likely continue to get worse if the root of the disease is not addressed. Many people unfortunately think if they take the medication or the insulin they can eat whatever they want. This is a very dangerous strategy that you will not come out ahead on. However, by following a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and closely monitoring your blood glucose levels and controlling stress you may stall and even reverse diabetes.
Those who are overweight and considered obese have a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes when compared with those who maintain a healthy body weight. Those with a lot of visceral fat, also known as “belly fat,” are considered higher risk. When you are obese, it causes your body to release chemicals that can destabilize your cardiovascular and metabolic systems. If you continue to remain obese, physically inactive and maintaining a poor diet, you are contributing to your risk of developing or worsening Type 2 diabetes. Consider this, researchers from the Imperial College London have found that drinking just one can of sugary soda per day can raise the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent! The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes also increases as you age. Experts do not know why, but they say that as people age they usually put on weight and their physically activity levels decrease.
Though you may immediately think you need insulin, you will find that treatment for diabetes usually includes many elements such as diet modification, exercise plan, stress management program traditional medications, and complimentary alternative approaches.
What alternative treatments are available to those with Type 2 diabetes?
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, defines alternative and complementary medicine as a “group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.”
It is important to note the differences:
- Complementary Medicine – These treatment options are used alongside conventional treatments for Type 2 diabetes
- Alternative Medicine – These type of treatment options are used instead of conventional medicine
Alternative therapies offer a variety of options including controlled diet, increase in exercise, mental conditioning and sometimes major lifestyle changes. Examples of alternative treatment for diabetes include:
- Guided imagery
- Chiropractic treatments
- Relaxation exercises
- Herbal remedies
- Special Diet
- And more!
If you are suffering from Type 2 diabetes, there are many natural treatment options for you that do not necessarily involve medications. If you are interested in learning more about diet modifications and natural treatment for diabetes, including controlling your blood sugar, Living Nutrilicious can help.