Home > BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
by Dave Foreman
I first covered the subject of Diabetes four years ago. With recent information about the prevalence, cost and risks of developing the disease, I thought it was time to revisit the subject. According to information I obtained from the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/ndfs_ 2007.pdf), here is where we stand:
There are three common types of diabetes; Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. Of these, Type 2 diabetes is the most common. It is estimated that up to 95% of all diabetics have this form of diabetes. The 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet claims:
Other shocking information about diabetes - it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney disease, and nervous system diseases. That makes blood sugar control a critical factor for those of us who wish to live a long and prosperous life.
Why prosperous?Well, the estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2007 was $174 BILLION (this includes direct medical costs, disability, work loss and premature mortality). By factoring in additional cost factors such as pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes, the total is closer to $218 billion. The average medical expenses for people diagnosed with diabetes are over two times higher than those without diabetes. Want to solve the health care bill issues? Put a tax on ALL foods that contribute to this condition. Just like taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, etc., the money raised would help pay for the treatment of those who become ill. The increased cost of these foods may act as a deterrent to some of us as well. I call it the FAT-TAX. (Ok, I don't usually talk politics and will stop now. just my idea).
Type 2 Diabetes: Let's focus on something we can change.
This form of diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and ethnicity. Of these, we can control our weight, physical activity and what we eat. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin (also known as insulin resistance).
There really shouldn't be a "special" diet for those with diabetes. I preach the same diet for all of us, regardless of what we are trying to achieve health wise. (If you get tired of reading about it, encourage your friends, family members and anyone else you come in contact with to eat this way and we won't have to read about it anymore - LOL).
Eating a diet low in refined foods/starches (white flour, juice, packaged foods, rice, potatoes, etc.) would be a great start. Try to consume more whole foods such as fruits and veggies. The fiber alone from these foods can also have a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar levels. Adding in nuts, seeds and legumes will also be beneficial. Avoid hydrogenated fats and consume more good fats like fish and flaxseed oil. Make sure you are eating enough protein while avoiding meats high in fat. It may be necessary to increase the number of times you eat per day from 2-3 to 4-5. Eat off of salad plates not dinner plates. This will help you with portion control. If you have cravings or energy dips, DO NOT reach for a quick fix like chips, snack foods or an energy drink. Better alternatives would be to keep some unsalted or lightly salted nuts close by. Even certain fruits and veggies can be kept near your desk: Granny Smith apples (lower in sugar than most apples, celery, etc. can be cut, and kept in sandwich bags for the better part of a day without going bad. These are much better choices for those concerned with high blood sugar.
Increasing your activity levelcan also help. Slow and steady wins the race every time. You don't need to do hours of aerobics, but just 30+ minutes a day of brisk walking, biking or weight lifting can assist your body in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Activity helps your body process and use the glucose in your bloodstream. The more activities we can do, the lower our blood sugar will be.
With regards to supplements, I always start with minerals, primarily Magnesium, Chromium and Vanadium. We are a mineral deficient society due to our over-consumption of processed foods. In most cases, processing takes out good nutrients, and oftentimes companies need to "fortify" their foods to put back what they just processed out. Recent research has shown that people with blood sugar control issues usually have low blood levels of these three key minerals. Research from the 1900s showed that Chromium-rich Brewer's yeast was helpful in restoring blood sugar levels. Current research shows that chromium supplementation with doses as high as 1000mcg per day has been helpful at improving glucose tolerance in those with Type II diabetes. You should consult with your health care provider before using high doses of any supplement. Magnesium consumption has been shown to improve insulin production in those with Type II Diabetes. The last of the three minerals I recommend is Vanadium. Most people haven't heard of this mineral, yet research has shown that it can help improve blood glucose control in as little as 6 weeks. Another supplement that is helpful with supporting healthy blood sugar levels is Alpha Lipoic Acid. Alpha Lipoic Acid could end up being the big winner in the future for those with blood sugar control issues. This supplement has been shown to increase the burning of glucose. It protects not only against the dysfunction that causes diabetes, but also against the damage caused by the disease. L-carnitine is a popular dietary supplement because it has been shown to produce many health benefits, one of which is to help control blood sugar. L-Carnitine improves insulin sensitivity, increases glucose storage, and optimizes carbohydrate metabolism. The previous supplements are on top of my list of nutritional support for blood sugar control. The following is a list of other nutritionals that possess benefits:
Herbs work great too (maybe better). There are several that stand out above the rest: Gymnema, Cinnamon, Maitake and Bitter melon. Gymnema has been shown to improve the ability of insulin to Continued from page 1 Continued on next page lower blood sugar levels in both Type I and Type II diabetes. It seems to help in three areas: decreasing insulin resistance, blocking glucose absorption and increasing the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas. Cinnamon (yes, the spice) extract is known to improve blood sugar levels and lipid levels in those with Type II diabetes. The extract of Maitake (Sx Fraction) has also been shown to be extremely helpful for those with interest in blood sugar control. To take some of the guessing work out of picking the right supplements for your blood sugar issues, consider using a combination formula that is designed to address your specific needs. Formulas like M.D Select Advanced Sugar Support, Doctor's Choice for Glucose Regulation and Wellbetx Glucose Management are just a few you can find at your local Vitamin Shoppe. If you are looking to take control of balancing your blood sugar, then you need to be aware that popping pills is not the complete answer. Even if you subject yourself to the pharmaceutical answers to blood sugar control, you are not going to "cure" yourself of the problem without other lifestyle modifications. I firmly believe that the answer to your problem lies in proper diet and activity. If you can get these two aspects under control, supplementing or taking prescribed medications will not be necessary in most cases. The choice is yours, but in the meantime, you now have some tools to assist your body in overcoming your blood sugar issues.