Type II Diabetes, the untold story

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I just saw a statistic that stated 1/3 of the population is pre-diabetic. This means that 1/3 of Americans are faced with developing a medical condition that is entirely lifestyle-based. Now, I do believe that most chronic health conditions are heavily lifestyle-based, but Type II diabetes I can safely say is exclusively based on lifestyle choices.  I would not even classify it within the umbrella of “lifestyle,” as it is directly a nutritional problem. It is a sugar problem. This condition has been so overly medicalized through our healthcare setting that it has distracted the individual from understanding their role in healing themselves.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the diabetic process, let’s do a short overview of how diabetes occurs. Your pancreas is the organ in your body that makes insulin. Insulin is the “key” that allows glucose to get into the cells. Glucose is what is derived through metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Although glucose is derived from all 3 of these energy sources, carbohydrates convert into glucose the fastest. When you eat carbohydrates, it has a much greater impact on the pancreas’ need to keep up with metabolism. The problem is that our culture is heavily attracted to carbohydrate-rich nutrition (bread products, pasta, rice, crackers, cookies, etc..) as well as “foods” high in sugar (soda, ice cream, candy, etc…). Even fruit has a impact on glucose metabolism and the rise of diabetes. So, if you begin fueling your body with higher carbohydrate-rich nutrition, you begin overwhelming the pancreas. Initially, the pancreas will increase its insulin production in an effort to keep up with the rise in blood sugar. As this happens, it starts to create a hypoglycemic state where blood sugar begins to get to low. Symptoms like fatigue, irritability, sleepiness, and increased cravings begin to occur. If this process continues, then eventually the pancreas will start downregulating the production of insulin as insulin-resistance begins to occur in the body. Blood sugar values start to rise during this process, eventually being picked up on a lab test. Once this process becomes complete and the cells no longer respond to insulin, diabetes is now established within the system.

The interesting thing about diabetes and prediabetes is that many people have this condition and they don’t even know it. It is typically identified during screening lab work when you go into to see your doctor. Increased thirst and increased hunger are some of the most common symptoms that occur as diabetes is being created within the body, but these symptoms are often overlooked by the individual. As I stated above, when hypoglycemia is happening there are a plethora of symptoms occurring but lab values do not show anything wrong.

The biggest issue with diabetes is over time it will have a dramatic impact on your health. This is due to the irritating effect that glucose creates as it is left to stay in the blood created by the downregulation of insulin. Glucose begins to instigate an inflammatory process, in which tissue breakdown occurs. Tissue destruction is the hallmark of the diabetic environment. The most common places this shows up are in the eyes, the nerves, the kidneys, and the blood vessels, but in truth degradation is happening all over the body. Given the fact that our body is a holistic entity, what is happening in one area is happening in all areas.   If this tissue destruction is allowed to occur without any correction, this is where you see people lose their limbs from diabetes.

As I stated on the title of this blog post, the untold story of diabetes is the simplicity of treatment that can reverse this process and bring about healing in the body. Now I want you to be very clear that I am not stating that you can “cure” diabetes. This is a condition (as with all conditions) that needs to be managed and if managed appropriately, can be completely resolved within the physiology. I also like to point out that something being simple does not always make it easy.  The simplicity of improving and resolving diabetes lies within the food choices of the individual.

The number one thing that needs to be addressed with a diabetic is their carbohydrate consumption. This is where things tend to get a little complicated for people because certain carbohydrates matter to a greater degree than other carbohydrates. For instance, the impact of grain-based carbohydrates has a significantly greater impact than that of the carbohydrate from sweet potatoes. Once stabilization of carbohydrate metabolism occurs, you can begin improving blood sugar through the regularity of eating.  This is often an overlooked piece of the puzzle.

Now, depending on when you start seeking care to address the cause of diabetes and what types of medications you are on, there are some differences on how people start responding and healing. The best time to treat diabetes is before your blood sugar even begins to rise in the blood. But even if you are new to the diagnosis or have been fighting diabetes for years, the time is now to begin addressing it appropriately. You have to be willing to change your choices. You have to be willing to do something different. You have to be willing to understand that you have power in the daily choices that you make. You can do it, you can take take control your health and feel better.

Naturopathic physician who is educating people about their health in order to empower them to practice self care.