Diabetes may very well be the worst health epidemic that has surfaced within developed countries in the last eighty years. In America, the rate of diabetes in general has increased around 1000% between 1969 and 1999. Affecting about 5% of the American population, diabetes is a leading cause of death. Roughly three out of four Americans are overweight, and about one of four Americans have a pre-diabetic condition termed syndrome X. Syndrome X consists of four different diseases: high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood fat levels, and obesity.
There are two main types of diabetes, I and II. Type I diabetes is the result of an autoimmune disease, which usually begins in childhood. In type I diabetes, the immune system mistakes the body’s insulin-producing cells for an intruder, and then destroys them. The hormone insulin is needed to bring sugar from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. A type I diabetic most often needs insulin injections. Type II diabetes is much more influenced by environmental factors than type I. Two of the main causes of type II diabetes are lack of aerobic exercise and excessive intake of simple sugars. Fortunately, since type II diabetes has environmental causes, it can also be helped greatly by a change in the diabetic’s environment. Aerobic exercise (getting the heart rate higher for extended periods of time) is very important for a diabetic, as long as they are otherwise healthy enough for this routine. Before you begin an aerobic exercise regimen, consult your family physician, especially if you have any serious physical conditions. Eating several small meals throughout the day may also help stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels.
When too many simple sugars are taken in, by either food or drink, blood sugar rises. The hormone insulin is then secreted in order to bring the blood sugar into the body’s cells, so that it can be used for energy. When the blood sugar remains high for long periods, the body’s cells often adapt to this situation by developing a tolerance to insulin. When this happens, there needs to be more insulin released to do the same job of putting sugar into the body’s cells as before. This is known as insulin resistance, or glucose intolerance. Symptoms of diabetes include: vomiting, frequent urination, nausea, constant thirst, blurred vision, marked weight loss, and fatigue. Long-term complications of diabetes include: heart disease, high blood sugar, low blood sugar, eye problems, overly acidic blood, kidney disease, and nerve damage.
Diabetics tend to be deficient in many vitamins and minerals. Low vitamin D levels are correlated with glucose intolerance. Middle-aged diabetics tend to be low in the mineral magnesium. If you are a diabetic and choose to supplement with magnesium, have your family doctor first test for proper kidney function. The mineral chromium is very important in helping the function of insulin. Between 25-50% of Americans are deficient in chromium. Both chromium and vitamin E can reduce insulin requirements. If a diabetic is on oral or injected medication, and chooses to supplement with either chromium or vitamin E, they should start slowly, with the knowledge of their physician and guidance of a consultant. It’s recommended that diabetics do not supplement with any potassium, unless directed by their physician. Supplementation with fish oil can have unpredictable effects on the functions of insulin, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels. Megadosing (taking more than 10 times the RDA-Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin B3 (niacin) may raise blood sugar levels. Niacinamide is a safer form of niacin that does not raise blood sugar levels, and may help several other diabetes-related problems. As you have read above, diabetes is a very complicated, multi-faceted disease, which does not often have simple solutions. If you would like more information on this growing epidemic, contact Dr. Jensen via e-mail in the Contact page, or his toll-free number 1-800-390-5365.
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