Type 2 diabetes is one of the most severe health threats today. Approximately 171 million people around the world have diabetes. If present trends continue, that number is expected to 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 is your body’s primary 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. The glucose stays in your blood when your body doesn’t make or use insulin well. 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 cannot manufacture insulin, a congenital disease, and gestational diabetes, which affects pregnant women.
People at the most significant 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 diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and “good fats” such as olive oil effectively regulates 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 how the body uses glucose and is often deficient in people with diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to several functions and may improve the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower triglyceride levels.
Regular, Moderate Exercise
Regular, moderate exercise of just 30 minutes a day has been shown to benefit insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Alternative therapies may be beneficial in helping to relieve symptoms associated with diabetes. For instance, acupuncture and biofeedback may alleviate 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. You can create a lifestyle-modification program to help you get back on the road to good health.