“The doctor of the future will give no medicines, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause of disease. ~Thomas Edison ”
While Type 2 Diabetes is very serious and can result in significant complications, it is a condition that can be treated and also reversed. Helping people reverse Type 2 Diabetes is one of the most gratifying areas of my practice because patients learn to become their own steward towards health. To achieve this, I work with patients to restore the foundation of health through nutrition, exercise and herbal medicine. Below are a few of the areas that I address when working with patients with Type 2 Diabetes:
What You Eat
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The role of nutrition in treating diabetes should not be underestimated. Many patients eat processed foods, which contain high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and trans fats, which are incredibly difficult for the body to metabolize. High-fructose corn syrup is perhaps the leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes. It is also highly addictive, and in my opinion, should be banned! For patients with Type 2 Diabetes, I recommend a whole foods diet, which includes healthy fats (avocado, almond butter, extra-virgin olive oil) and healthy sources of protein (organic eggs, some wild fish, beans and seeds). In addition, I advise patients to trade their refined carbs (breads, pastas, cakes, cookies) for healthy complex carbs like quinoa and amaranth, which do not spike glucose levels in the body quickly. Eating this type of diet makes a huge difference in people’s health and it is quite delicious too!
How You Eat
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It’s not only what’s on your plate, but how and when you consume it that matters. I often ask patients if they get dizzy, irritable and/or lightheaded between meals or if they get tired after they eat.
Feeling dizzy, irritable or lightheaded between meals is often associated with dysglycemia, which is the beginning stage of impaired glucose tolerance. This means that glucose levels are reaching highs and lows, which is a precursor to pre-diabetes, and ultimately Type 2 Diabetes. For these patients, it is important to consume a healthy protein within 30 minutes of waking, followed by small amounts of protein every three hours for the rest of the day. The protein converts to glucose slowly, allowing the body time to produce the necessary insulin. Therefore protein helps to stabilize blood glucose levels throughout the day.
On the other hand, if a person gets tired after a meal, it may be that they are consuming too many carbohydrates. I recommend that they increase their protein foods and rely mostly on vegetables for the majority of their carbohydrate intake. Berries are also a good choice.
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Exercise is so important when treating Type 2 Diabetes. Regular exercise increases lean muscle mass, which will use up the extra glucose that is circulating in the blood.
This means that gaining muscle will have the nice side effect of balancing your body’s glucose naturally. My favorites exercise regimens for diabetic patients are yoga and weight lifting because they build lean muscle. Yoga also has the added benefit of retraining the mind to be calm under pressure, and who doesn’t need that?
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There are wonderful herbs and supplements that help improve insulin sensitivity and balance glucose levels, such as Chromium and Bitter Melon. However, these supplements are significantly more effective when paired with diet and exercise. Conveniently, certain herbs that are rather sweet in taste are good for treating Type 2 Diabetes. Many people have discovered Stevia, which is known to improve insulin sensitivity. Also, chocolate, or Theobroma cacao, helps the body balance glucose, but I recommend very high quality dark chocolate for that purpose!
As you can see, treating Type 2 Diabetes is both straightforward and manageable. The most important thing that you can do is give your body what it needs to heal in terms of healthy nutrition and the right kind of exercise.