Type 2 diabetes is one of the most serious health threats we face today. Approximately 171 million people around the world have diabetes. If present trends continue, that number is expected to more than double, to 366 million, in 25 years.
Why are health organizations around the world so concerned about diabetes? Or more importantly, why should you be?
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar, or glucose, levels are too high. Glucose is a simple sugar derived from food and it is your body’s main energy source. Glucose is transferred from your bloodstream to your cells (where it is used for energy) with the help of a hormone called insulin. When your body doesn’t make or use insulin well, the glucose stays in your blood. Over time, too much blood glucose can damage your kidneys, eyes, and nerves, and place you at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.
Although there are different types of diabetes, 9 out of 10 cases are the type 2 variety, which results from unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. Other kinds of diabetes include Type 1, in which the body is unable to manufacture insulin, is a congenital disease; and gestational diabetes, which affects pregnant women. People who are at greatest risk for developing diabetes are: overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, or lead a sedentary lifestyle. And although it was once considered an adult disease, the number of children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes is growing at an alarming rate.
Natural Methods for Managing Or Avoiding Type 2 Diabetes
The good news is, type 2 diabetes can be managed and even avoided by making simple changes to your lifestyle. For example:
A Low-Glycemic Load Diet
A low-glycemic load diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and “good fats” such as olive oil has been shown to be effective in regulating blood sugar and weight loss
Dietary Supplements and Herbs
Dietary supplements and herbs may have a positive effect on people with diabetes. For instance, alpha-lipoic acid may improve cellular response to insulin and promote glucose uptake in muscle. Magnesium affects the way the body uses glucose and is often deficient in people with diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids are important to a number of functions and may improve the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower triglyceride levels.
Regular, Moderate Exercise
Alternative therapies may be beneficial in helping to relieve symptoms associated with diabetes. For instance, acupuncture and biofeedback may relieve the pain from nerve damage caused by diabetes, or neuropathy.
If you’re concerned about diabetes talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can use a simple blood test to determine whether you have this disease or are at risk of developing it. Together, you can develop a lifestyle-modification program to help you get back on the road to good health.