What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic (lifelong) disorder of metabolism – the way the body uses digested food for growth and energy.
Most of the food people eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar by helping it move from the bloodstream into muscle, fat and liver cells, where it can be used as fuel.
People with diabetes have high levels of sugar in their blood because their pancreas does not make enough insulin, their muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond to insulin normally, or both.
There are three major types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood, but many patients are diagnosed when they are older than age 20. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin. The cause is unknown, but genetics, viruses, and autoimmune problems may play a role.
- Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1 and makes up most diabetes cases. It usually occurs in adulthood, but young people are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease, which is caused by the pancreas not making enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to insulin. Many people with Type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, although it is a serious condition. Type 2 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.
Symptoms vary between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and may include:
- Blurry vision
- Increased or excessive thirst
- Increased and/or frequent urination
At later stages, many may notice numbness or tingling in their legs or feet, or develop problems with kidney function or retinal (eye) health.
Who is Affected?
One out of every 10 Americans are diabetic and the prevalence of diabetes is increasing. In fact, it is predicted that within 20 years, one in three people will suffer from the condition.
Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor. Diabetes is also linked to insulin resistance, which is also triggered by or exacerbated by being overweight or obese. If high glucose levels in the blood persist, it may damage the eyes, heart, kidneys or nerves. Diabetes has been linked to heart disease and stroke.
What are the Options for Treatment?
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we look at each and every patient’s unique biochemistry by testing blood and urine, as well as identifying any vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and/or food allergies or sensitivities.
In many cases, our first line of defense in helping treat patients with diabetes is a healthy weight loss program. We work with patients to help them achieve their ideal body weight – either through dietary modifications, or, often, through more aggressive approaches that help patients take the weight off more quickly, including medically-based diets that utilize naturally-occurring hormones that stimulate metabolism, suppress appetite and mobilize fat.
Diabetes is an inflammatory process so one of the best approaches to managing the disease is following an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, unrefined and unprocessed grains – plant foods that are rich in fiber, which is beneficial for helping control blood sugar levels. Essentially, we advise our patients to eat foods that are slowly metabolized – often called low glycemic index foods. For example, we have found that certain plant foods like Brewer’s Yeast, broccoli and other related greens, okra, peas, Fenugreek seeds and sage have helped our patients with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition.
Regular exercise is not just recommended – it is crucial – to help insulin work more effectively.
We also use nutriceuticals and herbal and nutritional supplements to assist in metabolism and help combat glucose intolerance. These include chromium, magnesium, zinc and vanadium. In some cases, we will utilize intravenous vitamin infusions to help protect the body from nerve damage – this procedure allows delivery of vital nutrients directly to the bloodstream, rather than having to be routed through the intestines where many may be partially absorbed.
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) to help remove heavy metals that may increase the production of free radicals that could further damage the tissues of the heart and perhaps contribute to poorly functioning arteries.
Lastly, we use hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a supplement to other treatments for patients who suffer from the painful numbness of diabetic neuropathy.