Insulin is an integral hormone in the process of developing Type 2 diabetes. It is made by the pancreas to enable your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store future use.
Diets high in refined carbohydrates (starches & sugars) and lack of exercise leads to Insulin resistance in which the body produces insulin but the cells are not able use it effectively. When muscle, fat and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin, they cannot easily absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream, and the blood sugars elevate. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose to be pulled into the cells.
According to a study published in the April 2014 medical journal “Radiology”, suggests that chronic high levels of insulin and sugar may be directly toxic to brain cells.
Dr. Nick Bryan, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perleman School of Medicine states “There may be two ways diabetes affects the brain, damage to blood vessels and brain-cell degeneration. For every 10 years someone had diabetes, it looked as if the brain was about two years older than the brain of someone without diabetes.”
The researchers found that the longer a patient had type 2 diabetes, the more brain volume loss occurred, particularly in the gray matter. Gray matter includes areas of the brain involved in muscle control, seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self-control.
Helping people with diabetes is not just about taking a prescription pill. Most patients I see for diabetes have a blood sugar level significantly above normal and their doctors are happy with it and their health problems continue to escalate. If you really want to decrease your factors for developing the health issues associate with Type 2 diabetes (including dementia), you need to pull together at the same time all the factors influencing sugar metabolism.
- Diet: Eating a low sugar, low carbohydrate diet and making sure to get protein with each meal is essential to improving sugar metabolism. No white flour products, no sweet foods including fruit juice, sweet fruits, dried fruits, alcohol, and no skipping meals. Keep starches (including whole grain) low at meal time particularly at dinner. Eat protein with every meal and eat lots of fresh vegetables (cooked or raw).
- Daily Exercise: is another key component that helps pull sugar into the muscles for energy and sadly its importance is often not stressed by doctors and therefore neglected as treatment by diabetic patients. Actually it is better to exercise 15-20 minutes or more twice a day for diabetics, than ½ hour or hour 1 x day.
- Supplements: There are many we utilize safely with our patients with diabetes who are on medication, that help the body metabolize sugars and improve insulin resistance, such as WellBetX Glucose Balance (Natural Factors) or Cinnacare (Future Biotics). As their sugars come down their doctors are able to reduce their medication(s). Make sure to check your sugars daily and keep a log.
Take your blood sugar levels seriously! With glucose monitoring kit the Normal range is between 80 and 100 fasting. Most Type 2 diabetics feel comfortable at a range of 90 -95. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes.
Brain Health: To keep your brain matter healthier Brain-Mate ( Mushroom Wisdom ) & Prevagen (Quincy Bioscience) are good choices. Go to holistichealthline.com for more specific information about these supplements.
The bottom line is if you don’t take diabetes seriously it will eat away, “like termites”, at all your organs including your brain.
As always it is best to seek professional advice about your specific health concerns and what is the best natural health program for you. Telephone and In-Office appointments are available with Naturopaths at the Tree of Life Wellness Center. Call 508-336-4242 for more information.
Jane Jansen Naturopath