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What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is also known as hyperglycemia. It is a metabolic disorder of the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for the production of the insulin hormone. In diabetics, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and is unable to metabolize carbohydrates properly. This causes too much glucose in the urine and blood. When this happens the cells are unable to properly function and provide the energy your body needs. Diabetes has been called “the silent killer.”
There are two types of diabetes. The first one is known as insulin dependent, or type 1 diabetes. The second one is non-insulin dependent, or type 2 diabetes.
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According to Ayurveda, the human body consists of three main life forces or ‘doshas’ also known as ‘tridoshas’, a balance among these life forces is essential for proper health. Vata is the impulse principle necessary to mobilize the function of the nervous system. Pitha is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism into the venous system. Kapha is the body fluid principle, which relates to mucous, lubrication and the carrier of nutrients into the arterial system.
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Ayurvedic Approach to Diabetes
The Ayurvedic approach to treating diabetes is multifaceted. In Ayurveda, diabetes is classified as a kapha disorder. Ayurvedic practitioners address diet modifications, suggest herbs, and exercise when working with diabetics. All three areas must be worked on in order to balance the body.
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Ayurvedic principles teach food is one important element that keeps a person in a balanced state of body, mind and soul. Eating healthy food translates into a healthy body. There are many diet modifications that are addressed in Diabetes Ayurveda. They include:
- Elimination of sugar and simple carbohydrates
- Emphasize complex carbohydrates
- Limit protein
- Limit fat intake
- Eat low-calorie, low-fat alkaline foods
- Eat lots of raw vegetables and bitter herbs
- Drink 8-15 glasses of water daily
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Many Ayurvedic herbs are recommended for diabetes. One such herb is Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia). Bitter melon contains compounds that have been shown to lower blood sugar levels. It also contains an insulin-like polypeptide.
Gurmar (Gymnema sylvestre) decreases sugar cravings. It can assist the pancreas in the production of insulin in Type 2 diabetics and lowers blood sugar in both types of diabetes.
Garlic (Allium sativum) contains allicin which reduces the blood sugar level in the body. It also helps lowering cholesterol levels. It has vasta pacifying properties in Ayurveda.
Onion (Allium cepa) has hypoglycemic properties. It is know for its rasayana properties in Ayurveda.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) helps to suppress the excretion of sugar in the urine.
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Yoga is an essential part of Ayurvedic diabetic treatment. Practicing yoga regularly reduces blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight gain, and complications of diabetes. Exercises like ‘Pranayama’ (breathing exercises), meditation, and poses enhance digestion and help the pancreas and liver function more normally, and regulate blood sugar.
There are many benefits to exercising when you have diabetes. Exercise will aid in weight loss and help the body respond to insulin more efficiently. It also improves the circulation. Proper circulation is important because many diabetics have poor circulation.
Many people with Type 2 Diabetes can control the disease with proper diet and exercise.
Through following this three-pronged approach to treating Diabetes Ayurveda many people can find relief from the disease.
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