Having diabetes is a major factor in premature aging. Many experts now consider obesity and diabetes to be forms of accelerated aging.
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels in America. The rates of diabetes have doubled just in the last three decades! Today, 17 million people suffer from diabetes. Many more people have the disease, but don’t know it. Type 2 diabetes cases are even rising among young adults and children. In type 2 diabetes, the most common type, the pancreas is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance) or has too little insulin, the hormone that allows sugar to be stored or used for energy.
Diabetes is really a vicious cycle where poor fat and sugar metabolism lead to obesity… which then leads to diabetes. The cycle keeps going. Diabetes makes you more hungry, so its symptoms are aggravated as well as brought on by eating too much fat and too many sugary foods.
Complications from diabetes are the fourth leading cause of death by disease in the world today. Heart disease, high blood pressure, retinopathy (loss of vision), nerve damage, kidney problems, arteriosclerosis, and circulatory problems are all major problems that face diabetics.
But there is a lot of hope. While some cases need to be managed medically, many type 2 diabetics can balance their blood sugar simply by following a low glycemic, low fat diet and getting regular exercise.
What are diabetes risk factors?
People with a family history of the disease (particularly African Americans), who are overweight, or who get little or no exercise are at the highest risk. Clearly, a diet high in refined sugar and refined carbohydrates is another major factor.
Here are the latest statistics: Sugar has become an entire food group, counting for an astounding 20% of total daily calories for adult Americans! But a high sugar diet overworks, then damages the pancreas, so your body can’t produce or correctly use insulin. As refined carbohydrates and sugars cease to be metabolized, they accumulate in the body and are stored as fat. Excess body fat and lack of exercise then bring on insulin resistance.
Do you have high blood sugar warning signs? Common symptoms include:
—extreme thirst with frequent urination
—slow healing cuts and wounds; chronic infections
—recent weight loss or weight gain without diet changes
—severe, unexplained fatigue
If you have any of these warning symptoms, make sure to get medical advice. Diabetes can be serious! Testing your blood sugar when you get up in the morning can provide some helpful clues. Home blood glucose monitoring kits are available from most pharmacies.
How is type 1 diabetes different? Type 1 diabetes is a juvenile, autoimmune condition where the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells. Today scientists are working with Islet-cell transplants as a possible cure with some success. Although diet therapy is helpful to manage reactions, type 1 diabetes is a chronic problem that is almost entirely dependent on insulin to sustain life.
What about metabolic syndrome or “Syndrome X”? Is it the future of Diabetes?
Metabolic syndrome is estimated to affect up to 95 million Americans - It is one of the most serious health threats in the modern world! It’s a complex condition, but the common denominator is insulin resistance; People with metabolic syndrome always have either pre-diabetes, or diabetes. In fact, in metabolic syndrome, blood sugar levels soar out of control, setting off a damaging free radical cascade, inflammation, accelerated aging and a variety of metabolic problems.
Metabolic syndrome often goes undetected by doctors for years, because its complications are so varied. In women, gland problems like infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome and irregular menstruation often result.
Insulin resistance damages the cardiovascular system and blood vessels. High blood pressure is a common result, so people with metabolic syndrome have very high risk of heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.
Excess insulin also provokes the liver to make more cholesterol, dump more fats into the bloodstream, and allow more fat storage, reasons why people with metabolic syndrome have such a hard time losing weight. Excess fat around your waist is a primary sign.
Too much sugar circulates in the bloodstream, creating more AGE products (advanced glycosylation end products) associated with accelerated aging, brown spots, and kidney disease.
The medical approach relies on using a different drug “patch” for each problem, so the person is juggling 4 or 5 different prescriptions, (and possibly adverse drug reactions and side effects). For example, statin drugs used to control high cholesterol are highly toxic to the liver. Using them long term can worsen complications like fatty liver disease and obesity.
What’s causing the Metabolic syndrome epidemic?
Again, our lifestyle bears much of the responsibility. Like diabetes, the main triggers of Syndrome X are lack of exercise, and diet overloads of sugar, refined carbs, saturated and trans fats. Smoking, chronic stress and alcohol abuse accelerate the damage.
Still, heredity can play a role. African American women, Hispanics, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders who have adopted a western lifestyle (and eating patterns) are the hardest hit by this syndrome, but the epidemic is actually growing in all of America’s middle aged baby boomer population.
Are you at risk for Syndrome X? Three or more of these symptoms may be a sign.
• Obesity, especially if you have an apple shaped body (excess weight around the middle) or a protruding stomach (a sign of liver enlargement).
• Diabetes or pre-diabetes (Fasting blood glucose higher than 110).
• Diagnosed high cholesterol, triglycerides Cholesterol deposits on the skin (xanthelasma).
• Poor circulation or arteriosclerosis. Blood pressure greater than 140/85 mmHg.
• Poor immune response with frequent colds, flu or candida yeast infections. Retinal changes, cataracts.
• Polycystic ovaries (signs include irregular menstruation, infertility, hirsutism, acne and obesity).
A holistic approach is well suited to address Syndrome X and diabetes, helping to rebalance blood sugar levels, and to help normalize high blood pressure and cholesterol without serious side effects or drug toxicity.
Natural Therapies To Rebalance Body Systems
1. Start with diet improvements. Do not skip meals. Most diabetics should eat 6 mini-meals a day, especially if they’re on insulin therapy. Ask your physician.
• Focus on a largely plant-based, fresh foods diet for complex carbohydrates that don’t require much insulin for metabolism. Make sure you are getting high quality protein from fish, legumes, and green superfoods like barley grass and spirulina. Add high fiber vegetables, and whole grains like oats and brown rice to stabilize sugar swings and support cardiovascular health.
• Keep fat intake low, no more than 15% of total calories, for heart health and weight management. Instead, boost essential fatty acids (EFA’s). EFA’s promote healthy metabolism and improve circulation.
Low essential fatty acid levels worsen metabolic syndrome by triggering inflammation. Eat seafood (especially wild salmon) 3 times a week for Omega 3 fatty acids. Sea veggies, olive oil, flax seed oil and dark greens like spinach are other good sources of EFA’s. Consider EVENING PRIMROSE OIL 3000mg daily.
• Add more chromium-rich foods to your diet, like nutritional yeast, onions, garlic and wheat germ to normalize blood sugar levels. Supplemental chromium (500 to 1000 mcg. daily) is another good option to explore with your physician.
•Very important! Strive for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. No program for diabetes or metabolic syndrome will work for long without regular exercise.