One of the fastest-growing diseases is something most people don’t think much about: Type II diabetes. Long known as "adult-onset diabetes," it’s a condition in which the body’s ability to use carbohydrates is impaired by inefficient insulin function. Characterized by abnormally high blood sugar and insulin levels, Type II diabetes greatly increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve disorders, kidney disease, cancer and impotence.
Type II diabetes differs from Type I diabetes. In Type II diabetes, adequate amounts of blood-sugar-lowering insulin are produced but the hormone doesn’t function efficiently. In Type I diabetes (or insulin-dependent diabetes), a malfunction of the immune system leads to destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, so little or no insulin is produced. Type II diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes.
Not long ago this disease only affected people in their later years, but that situation has changed dramatically. Today, Type II diabetes has ballooned into an epidemic that now afflicts all age groups, including children as young as 10 years old.
The statistics certainly show that it’s no longer a disease that should be considered out of sight and out of mind. Between 1990 and 1998, the overall incidence of diabetes among Americans increased by 33 percent. Among people in their 30s, the incidence jumped by an astounding 70 percent.
What’s more, many people who don’t yet have diabetes are on the fast track to developing it. Being overweight is a major predisposing factor for Type II diabetes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 61 percent of Americans are now overweight, and 27 percent are clinically obese. Weight around the middle is an especially bad sign, as is frequent thirst and frequent urination. In addition, heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol and high triglycerides (a cluster of symptoms collectively known as metabolic syndrome), are warning signs that a person is at serious risk for diabetes.
Some of the earliest signs of prediabetes are fatigue, sleepiness after meals, sugar cravings and difficulty concentrating.
The root problem in Type II diabetes and in prediabetic conditions is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance develops slowly, primarily from a diet high in carbohydrates—especially sweets, breads, and flour- and sugar-based snack foods. The more these blood-sugar-raising foods are eaten, the more the pancreas pumps out insulin, which shuttles glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. In time, though, the cells become resistant to the effects of so much insulin, and blood sugar levels eventually start to creep up into ranges that are considered diabetic.
Is there any good news? Absolutely. Type II diabetes is a nutritional disease with a nutritional cure. The type of diet that offers protection against Type II diabetes is a protein-rich, low-carbohydrate plan in which the carbohydrates come primarily from nonstarchy vegetables such as salad greens, green beans, asparagus, celery and broccoli. Eating this type of diet and using supportive supplements shouldn’t be considered alternative medicine but rather the treatment of choice for Type II diabetes.
The diet should also be rich in “good fats”, such as monounsaturated fats in olive oil and omega-3 fats in cold-water fish and fish oil. Although fat is considered taboo by many people, good fats really should be considered essential medicine for diabetics because they improve insulin sensitivity and don’t raise insulin levels.
Supplements also play an important role in natural diabetes care. I often recommend that my patients with Type II diabetes take two nutrients that help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The first is gymnema sylvestre, an Indian herb that helps slow the transport of glucose from the intestines into the bloodstream. Preliminary human studies with type 2 diabetics the herb also lowers triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. I recommend taking 400 mg. of an extract that is standardized for 25 percent gymnemic acids each day.
The second is vanadium, ultra-trace mineral that helps support healthy blood glucose levels. It also activates the synthesis of enzymes for carbohydrate metabolism. If you have confirmed Type II diabetes, I advise taking 100 mcg. daily.
Physical activity, adequate sleep and stress reduction can also be helpful adjuncts to nutritional treatment. Physical activity directly improves diabetes by improving insulin efficiency, while stress reduction lowers cortisol levels, which in turn should lower insulin levels.
Hu R. Effects of insulin-mimetic vanadyl-poly(gamma-glutamic acid) complex on diabetic rat model. Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. 2010;99:3041-3047.
Wei JH. Experimental [corrected] study of hypoglycemic activity of conduritol A of stems of Gymnema sylvestre. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2008;33:2961-2965.
Dr. David J. Blyweiss began his medical career as a clinical pharmacist in South Florida prior to earning his medical degree from St. George's University School of Medicine in 1982.
His dual background allowed him to appreciate the relevance of conventional pharmaceutical/surgical based treatments in acute medical conditions, and recognize where these approaches fell short in treating the majority of patients who suffered from the chronic degenerative diseases of "western civilization origin."
Over the last twenty years, with the nutritional medical knowledge base expanding in the fields of nutrigenomics, protemics, and other related "orthomolecular" disciplines directed towards patients' biochemical individuality, Dr. Blyweiss became an early adherent and experienced practitioner of what would become known as "functional medicine." This knowledge allows him to effectively manage and alleviate the symptoms related to the most "difficult-to-treat" conditions by addressing the underlying causes, allowing the body to heal itself.
Dr. Blyweiss was one of the initial researchers doing the early work on chlorhexidine (Phisohex) while earning his first post graduate degree at Temple University School of Pharmacy. During medical school he worked with the WHO (World Health Organization) in vaccinating children in the islands of the Carribbean. He has traveled much of the world, most recently to Belize, Central America, Gabon, Africa, and Zagreb, Croatia working closely with teams of specialists to identify new plant life and natural products for possible human benefit as well as researchers and their stem cell transplantation teams. He has consulted for and created state-of-the-art nutritional supplements for multiple nutritional companies since 1999. He is currently in private practice in South Florida where he resides with his family.
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