Diabetes is a chronic health problem that involves elevated blood sugar levels. Proper nutrition, exercise, and dietary supplements normalize blood sugar levels and weight preventing diabetes. Your diet should be high in fibre, found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. More specifically, your diet should include water-soluble fibre.
Jane, a 40-year-old mother of two children, came to see me because her family doctor was concerned about her risk of developing diabetes.
“He told me that my mildly elevated blood sugar levels and excess weight are big risk factors for this disease,” she explained. “My goal is to get this under control before it’s too late!” I reassured Jane that she was in a good position to incorporate proper nutrition, exercise, and dietary supplements to normalize her blood sugar levels and weight–and to prevent diabetes.
I went on to explain that diabetes is a chronic health problem that involves elevated blood sugar levels. The metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats leads to the production of the substance glucose, also known as blood sugar. Glucose is needed to supply energy to every cell in the body. If glucose levels become too elevated, however, they become toxic to the brain and other body organs.
There are two main types of diabetes: In type 1 diabetes, there is a deficiency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that transports glucose into cells. Type 2 diabetes is caused by the resistance of the cells to insulin so that blood sugar cannot enter the cells.
Diet and Diabetes
“Your diet should be high in fibre, found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains,” I told Jane. More specifically, her diet should include water-soluble fibre, as found in oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and apples. Ground flaxseeds are excellent for maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. I told Jane to consume two tablespoons each morning with 10 ounces of water.
I also recommended that Jane eat vegetable protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, peas) or lean animal protein (turkey, chicken, fish) with each meal. Protein drinks with low sugar levels (less than five grams) can be consumed as well.
She should get most of her carbohydrates from whole grains. Besides whole wheat, Jane can choose from brown rice, barley, oats, spelt, and kamut. Jane needs to avoid packaged foods that contain high fructose corn syrup as these can spike blood sugar levels and contribute to obesity. She should choose foods with a low glycemic rating.
A 2003 study by the US Department of Agriculture demonstrated that a small amount of cinnamon taken daily reduced fasting glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes by 18 to 29 percent after 40 days. I suggested that Jane consume one to two teaspoonfuls on food or in a protein shake daily.
Some supplements are helpful in regulating blood sugar levels. First, I recommended a multivitamin/mineral formula to provide a base of nutrients Jane’s body needs for healthy glucose metabolism.
People with elevated glucose levels can also benefit from 500 mcg of the mineral chromium daily. In one study approximately 60 percent of diabetes patients who took it reported improved glucose control.
Also, alpha-lipoic acid may improve glucose balance. The recommended preventive dose of this antioxidant is 200 to 300 mg daily. Lastly, I suggested an essential fatty acid supplement such as fish or flaxseed oil.
Jane needs to focus on sound dietary choices, specific dietary supplements, and regular exercise for better glucose control. These are effective strategies even for those with existing diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes
- frequent urination
- strong thirst
- excessive appetite
- unusual weight loss
- blurred vision
Underlying Causes of Diabetes
- poor diet (particularly in type 2)
- autoimmune reaction due to a viral infection, environmental toxin, or food allergy
(in some cases of type 1)
- stress hormone imbalance
- nutritional deficiencies, especially chromium, B vitamins, zinc, and vanadium