Diabetes is a chronic illness characterized by either an insufficient supply of insulin from the pancrease or the body’s inability to utilize insulin effectively. In either case, higher-then-normal blood glucose levels result although the glucose is unable to do its job in providing fuel to the body. There are natural measures you can take to help in lowering blood glucose levels but it is important to note the following:
If you have Type I diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or IDDM), you will have to take insulin for the rest of your life because your pancreas is unable to manufacture it. If you have Type II diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus - NIDDM), it is possible to control your condition without the need of insulin or drugs.
Diet plays a major role in controlling glucose levels. Besides curtailing refined sugars, the following can help:
Water-soluble forms of fiber can slow the absorption of carbohydrates and prevent rapid rises in blood glucose, increase the sensitivity of tissues to insulin and improve uptake of glucose by the liver and other tissues. Many vegetables, apples, pears, oat bran, beans, nuts and seeds are all good sources of water-soluble fiber.
The glycemic index measures carbohydrate’s effect on blood glucose. People with diabetes are encouraged to eat foods in the low (55 or less) and medium (56-69) range. The carbohydrates in these foods are absorbed more slowly than foods with a high (70 or higher) glycemic index, thus preventing rapid rises of blood glucose. However, not all foods with a low glycemic index are considered good. For example, ice cream has a low glycemic index but it is also high in fat. Foods high in fat can impair glucose uptake. There are other factors that should be taken into consideration such as what other foods are being eaten at the same time and how you prepare your food.
Finding the right diet can be complicated. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you speak to a dietitian to help meet your particular needs.
Gymnema has been used for many years to treat diabetes. It has been shown to reduce insulin requirements in people with Type I diabetes and according to one study involving 22 people with type 2 diabetes, 16 participants were able to decrease the dosage of their oral hypoglycemic drugs considerably and 5 were able to stop their medications.
It is believed that fenugreek seeds can delay gastric emptying, slow the absorption of carbohydrates and inhibit the transport of glucose. It has been shown to decrease fasting glucose levels significantly in people with Type I diabetes. In people with Type II diabetes, it not only decreased fasting glucose, it also decreased values one and two hours after meals.
Before using any herbs, it is important that you consult with your health care provider first.
Exercise can not only help in lowering blood glucose levels, it can also help improve overall health. However, precautions should be taken. Check you blood glucose beforehand and if it is low or too high, exercise should be avoided until it improves. You should also check your levels afterwards. Always keep a fast-acting carbohydrate like juice on hand if needed. Your health care provider can help you choose the best exercise routine for you.
Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)
WebMD: Glycemic Index and Diabetes - https://diabetes.webmd.com/glycemic-index-good-versus-bad-carbs?page=2
Diabetes Health: Fenugreek - https://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2005/01/01/4193/fenugreek/
Family Doctor: Diabetes and Exercise - https://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/living/351.html
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