What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body is either unable to utilize insulin properly or produces abnormal amounts of insulin, which causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Insulin is the hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood by helping it move from the bloodstream into muscle, fat and liver cells, where it is used as fuel.
There are three major types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the body produces little or no insulin. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and the cause is unknown. It is believed, however, that genetics, viruses and autoimmune problems play a role.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1 and makes up most cases of diabetes. It usually occurs in adulthood, but young people are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease. Quite often, these people actually produce excessive amounts of insulin but are unable to properly utilize it. This is often seen in overweight or obese individuals who are eating large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates and the pancreas is pumping out plenty of insulin but the body has become insensitive to it. In other words, the insulin being produced is no longer very effective. In some cases, type 2 diabetes is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, although it is a serious condition. This type of diabetes is becoming more common due to sedentary lifestyles and the prevalence of obesity. Other risk factors include family history, development of gestational diabetes or the delivery of a baby weighing more than nine pounds, heart disease, high blood cholesterol, polycystic ovary disease and previous impaired glucose tolerance. Some ethnic groups, particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Hispanic Americans, seem to be most affected.
Gestational diabetes is high blood glucose that develops at any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life, unless they make a conscious effort to modify their lifestyle and diet.
Symptoms vary between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and may include:
- Blurry vision
- Increased or excessive thirst or appetite
- Increased and/or frequent urination
- Nausea, vomiting
- Unusual weight gain or loss
- Frequent vaginal infections
- Yeast infections
- Slow-healing cuts or sores
- Itching skin, especially in the groin or vaginal area
As the condition progresses, circulation in the extremities can become poor, resulting in tingling and numbness in the feet and, without proper treatment, has even resulted in amputation.
Type 1 Diabetes
The causes of type 1 diabetes are not entirely known, but is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
We do know that the immune system begins to attack and destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which leaves the patient with little or no insulin. This causes the sugar to build up in the bloodstream, rather than being transported into the cells to be used as fuel.
Type 2 Diabetes
The cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown, although again, it is believed to be a combination of genetic, diet, lack of exercise, cigarette smoking, and environmental factors.
The cells of type 2 diabetics become resistant to insulin, meaning it is unable to get the sugar into the cells, in order to be used as fuel. This causes it to build up in the blood stream. Obesity is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes but it is not a prerequisite.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones which make the cells more resistant to insulin. Normally, the pancreas produces extra insulin to make up for this resistance. In some cases, the pancreas is unable to keep up, resulting in too much sugar building up in the blood. This results in gestational diabetes.
Traditionally, diabetes is treated with oral medication, insulin injections, diet and exercise. Diabetics on insulin have to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly. There is a risk of their levels getting too high or too low, causing other symptoms and complications. It is a constant balance that will vary day to day depending on diet, exercise, stress level and more. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with diet alone, but type 1 sufferers require an insulin replacement. This is generally a lifelong treatment, as there is no cure, only symptom management.
At the Magaziner Center, we treat diabetes holistically. We use extensive and unique testing to root out all of the contributing factors and treat them at the source. Many of our patients are placed on a gluten-free, plant-based diet, along with an appropriate exercise and stress reduction programs.
In many cases, the first step is assisting patients with a healthy weight loss program, through either dietary modifications or including medically-based diets that stimulate metabolism, suppress appetite and mobilize fat.
We also use nutriceuticals and herbal and nutritional supplements to assist in metabolism and help combat glucose intolerance.
hyperbaric oxygen therapy is utilized for patients who suffer from the numbness associated with diabetic neuropathy.
In cases where it is identified that the diabetes has already resulted in inflammatory disease that has affected cardiovascular function, we will often recommend chelation therapy, which involves the intravenous infusions of EDTA (a synthetic amino acid) along with other nutrients to reduce the free radical damage that is associate with type 2 diabetes. A recently published study found that patients who were diabetic and had a previous heart attack lived much longer and had less cardiac events if they received chelation therapy compared to a placebo.
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